Photo tips

September 5, 2012

I had to prepare a brochure on photo tips for my current client. The idea is that anyone leaving on mission would take one of the organization’s cameras and take photos. This brochure should help them improve their shots, which are mainly taken in conferences.

It starts with a checklist:

  • Signed checkout form
  • Camera
  • Camera Bag
  • Main Battery fully charged
    • Secondary Battery fully charged
  • Memory Card formatted and ready to go
    • Extra memory card
  • Charger
  • AC adaptor (check this site before you leave to make sure you have the right one:
  • Cables: USB to connect to a PC (or Card Reader)
  • Cables: HDMI/VGA to connect to a projector or TV

Then the photo tips:


Avoid using the zoom: walk instead. The less zoom the more light goes into the photo. This means sharper images, and less possibility of shooting moved photos.
Avoid the flash: flash gets unpredictable results… unless you are a professional; from unwanted shadows, to too bright or too dim photos, red eyes, etc… Avoid using the flash. The camera will/can use higher ISO to compensate for the lack of light at the expense of bringing noise to the photo, so try to have enough light for your shot by do not using the zoom and choosing lighted spots.
Use the flash only if: when shooting a portrait with a lot of light behind the subject and there is no way you can change perspective.
Watch the lighting: if you have a big window behind your subject most likely in the photo you will only see the silhouette (unless you use the flash, but we should try to avoid using the flash, remember?). Try
Pay attention to the background: often a light, tree or something appears to be going out of your ear’s subject for instance. Recompose.
Rule of thirds: imagine the frame decided in 9 parts. Try to avoid taking photos with the subject placed in the centre, but a 1/3 from it.
Same with the horizon, either on the top 1/3 or the bottom 1/3.
Try to be at the same hight than your subject: If he is sitting reposition to his/her same hight. Do not stand up while your subject is seated.

What and Where

Take casual shots: casual shots are often better than those where the audience is posing. Try to be unnoticed so the photos will look real, natural and relaxed, telling the story of the moment. Be unobtrusive.
Change your point of view: alter your perspective. Take photos of the audience. Talking heads are not interesting. Take the must haves and have fun looking for new angles: take photos from the translation
cabins, even adding a front blurred element such as the translators.
Take photos from the side of the speaker, from the back with the audience behind, shaking hands, moving hands, having coffee, having a discussion with both subjects in the same frame, doing something like opening a briefcase, etc..
Take unconventional shots: like the badges on the table, people doing casual things. Take photos before and after the event.
Do close ups: concentrate on body parts instead of the whole body. Be creative. Try to capture when parts of the face are obstructed with hands or other objects. Try to fill the frame.
Photograph people doing things: people with people. Frame photos with foreground elements,
Take photos of the subjects/themes of the topics: Try to go out of the conference to see the reality of the subject and take photos in hospitals, camps, manifestations…
Take photos of the **whatever your organization does**: and photos of details such as a chair, a hand in a chair, a microphone, other close-ups.
Let your imagination fly and have fun!


Take photos during the breaks, before and after the conference.
Take a lot of photos: you can fit tons of photos in your memory card, so don’t be afraid of shooting. From 100 photos at least 5% will be good, so shoot sequences of more than one shot whenever is possible, in
particular if shooting portraits.
Know the agenda: so you can anticipate and take photos to the more senior people and you don’t miss key topics or key people.
The golden hour: most of the photos you will take will be probably in conferences and meetings. In any case, the best lighting to take portraits and in fact photos in general, is what it is gold the golden hour:
1 hour before sunset (and even 1 hour after sun rises).


Who is who: where did you take the photos and to whom. For this a good tip is that if you take a photo of someone and immediately after you take a photo of the badge or you ask for the visiting card or you write down his/her name in a piece of paper and take a photo, so one follows the other: photo of the subject + photo of business card. Or photo of a place + photo of banner/note.
Take the camera always with you: the best photo opportunities are when we don’t expect them in casual situations. If you forget it and you have a smartphone or a phone with a camera with you do not hesitate
to take photos.We’ll help you out to extract them once you are back in the office.

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