I've been shooting corporate jobs since about 2010. At first, it was a little rocky. I didn't really know what I was doing, I hadn't shot enough with other photographers to learn the ropes, and I was just a self-taught photographer trying to make ends meet. Fast forward to 2017, and I'm shooting high-profile executives at Fortune 500 companies, and am expected to do it quickly. I'm shooting luncheons where half of the attendees flew in from another hemisphere on their private jets, and am expected to do it quietly. And well. So, here are a few quick tips for people who are just starting out in the freelance corporate photography world.
Time is Essential.
If you don’t keep time a high priority through all parts of the process, you’re done for. Don’t be late to gigs. Don’t take too long responding to e-mails. Know what questions to ask about scheduling to make sure enough time is allotted for everything, or at least so you know how rushed you’ll have to be during the shoot. Under-promise and over-deliver on the deliverables from the shoot; if you say it will take two weeks, try to deliver in one — and never deliver in three. Be dependable!
The Big Wigs Are People Too.
It’s easy to become "star struck" when you’re in close quarters directing and photographing celebrities or executives of Fortune 500 companies. One thing I try to keep in mind when this is happening is that these people are… people! They're like me. They have personal lives. They have families. They have needs and wants and are depending on you to make them look good. So, take a deep breath, and if you treat them like a friend, call them by their first name, and are just nice to them, things will work out. If they see you're relaxed, they'll relax too. Treat people -- even if it's the CEO of Walmart or Hugh Jackman -- like they're an old friend, and your images will be all the better.
Be a Ninja!
Over the years I’ve learned the importance of being stealthy during corporate events. When you get hired to shoot events for a company, generally, they want to know you’re there, but they don’t want to see you. They don’t want to hear you (And they certainly don’t want to smell you!).
So, be a ninja.
Wear dark colors — all black is preferable. Try to be as quiet as possible. Don’t wear loud shoes, space out your shots and use whatever “quiet” mode your camera has, if possible. Try to be gentle when changing lenses, and avoid loud velcro at all costs. If you don’t need a flash, don’t use one. Be a fly on the wall, a ghost, and your client will be that much happier. Don't have too much equipment while shooting events; you should be able to slip through the crowd pretty easily without causing a ruckus. Crouch at the front of the stage instead of standing. Perfect your duck-walk. You'll thank me later...
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