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Creating An Event Photography Shot List That Tells A Story

Updated: Sep 5, 2023

Guest Contributor: Travis Hull, Spoken Motion Studio

Editor’s note: Scurry Street partnered with Spoken Motion Studio to capture the visual story of the Planet Philanthropy 2023 Conference in Orlando, FL. You can see more examples of their work in this month’s featured story. [Planet Philanthropy photo recap]

Don’t underestimate the impact of event photography. It can stir emotions and share captivating stories. When planning an event, it's essential to keep your target audience’s key objectives in mind. Think about the lens they’re viewing your event through: “How will this event further my objectives and help me accomplish my goals?” Your event photography should be able to answer that question.

Why Should You Make An Event Photography Shot List?

A shot list ensures you capture key moments that convey the atmosphere and attendee experience. It helps the photography team understand the timing, themes, goals, and expected photography deliverables. Investing time planning the shot list pays off when your team is confident, well-prepared, and organized on-site. You’re also collecting a marketing asset inventory. If well-executed, you’ll have materials to help build impactful campaigns well into the future. Let’s dive into the three components of an event photography shot list.

Pre-Event Preparation For Event Photography

Make a schedule in line with the event's structure so there is a guideline for the shots you want and when to take them. The run of the show allows your photographer to be in the best position as the event ebbs and flows.

Create a list of can’t-miss shots–the essential images that tell your desired story. The photos should also illustrate the event’s theme or aesthetics. Prioritize the creative elements that make the event stand out.

Also, have a list of moments or things to watch for. These might not be "essential" images, but they could prove advantageous if captured. When working with creatives, an excellent way to leverage their thinking is by sharing how you anticipate using the images. What are the 2-3 areas of focus? Do you want to highlight the exceptional networking opportunities, or are product demonstrations a draw for attendees? The images tell the story of your event and allow for better story-driven marketing. Communicating your goals is critical to ensuring it's done to your standards.

Shot Types You Should Know How to Leverage

In event photography, it's essential to have a well-thought-out shot list to capture the right moments and convey the atmosphere. Here's a guide to the types of shots you may want to prioritize, along with terminology to discuss with your photographer and achieve a specific creative direction.

● Generally, close-ups help reveal emotions and reactions, filling your frame with an attendee’s face.

Wide shots (or long shots) will capture an attendee’s entire body without it filling the whole photo.

● The medium shot will capture event attendees from around the waist up to the torso, emphasizing the subject while ensuring their surroundings remain in view.

● A point-of-view (POV) shot typically involves capturing an event attendee looking at something. The photo is taken as if it’s through their eyes.

Establishing shots show buildings or landscapes (e.g., the event venue or venue property) and are typically wide or extreme wide shots.

Photography Shot List Essentials

Be sure to get event photographs of the following:

● Close-ups and wide shots of speakers as they give speeches on stage (capturing any branding where possible).

● Show your audience engaging and interacting with each other (ensure they are enthusiastic, laughing, or smiling).

● Exhibitors and sponsors (to surprise and delight the companies supporting your event.

● Branding and experience shots to differentiate your event.

● Before and after shots to tell the story of the entire event.

Who Should Take Your Event Photographs?

Event photography is an art form that requires years of practice and honing to perfect–and your business deserves nothing less. The company you hire to tell the story of your event should have the combination of experience and professional equipment that truly sets its offering apart.

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