Photographing formal events are a very special time. You’ve been invited to photograph the premier event in the year for most industries. Below are some ideas and tips on how we see these gala events.
Gala Dinner Photography Tips
One tip is that during this early phase of the corporate event, we keep that little bit of extra distance. We watch closely for photo opportunities, but only when the time is right. Give the newly arrived guests some space is an important tip. Use slighter longer focal length lenses. After the invited guests have had their first or second drink is a better time to take some small group shots. Using a speed-light / flash is quite common. To be more comfortable to the guest try to bounce the flash from ceiling or walls. Or use a diffuser to soften the light. Guests will appreciate the softer look on their skin the the photos are delivered. And very quickly the first networking session settles in and the clicks of the camera start to capture all the friendly emotion in the room. More drinks are served and before too long all the excited guests are called into the ballroom.
The Dress Code
Invited guests follow the formal dress code guidelines and look fabulous. Most of the male guests will be wearing either full traditional tuxedos or a formal suit. Mostly in black, this is important from a photography point of view. Black show lint really quickly and when you post process the photos you want to make sure there’s the full dark colour spectrum in the shot, ie don’t crush the blacks.
In Australia the black tie dress code for females is to wear a cocktail dress, not always but that’s what we see the most in Sydney for gala fashion. Many dresses have vivid colours. A fashion photography tip is to pay careful attention to not blow out white and red dresses. Review the raw file histogram on the back of the camera so your not out of gamut.
Photographers will need to also keep to the formal dress code. Black shirt, shoes and pants is recommended for the guys and similar colour scheme for the female photographer, although we see a white blouse being reasonable common.
These events provide a great opportunity for business people to network. For some this is the one of the few times they see their industry allies and competitors. Most sections of the Corporate world have business competitors that are also friends from job hoping over the years.
Whether new or old business friends during the early part of the night, there is some tension in the air. Some guests are eagerly waiting to see if they are the winners in one of the national or international awards. So as event photography service providers we give the guests a little more space to be served their first round of drinks. Which no doubt helps settle the nerves.
Formal Speeches & Presentation
The Master of Ceremonies opens up the night and addresses the guests when everyone is seated. These days in Australia many Corporate networking events invite a First Nations Elder to formally welcome the guests. Great to see and hear this intro to the awards night. Definitely capture photos of the Elder.
After the formal intros and welcomes the MC will mention the sponsors. Photograph all sponsor and VIP tables and guests. They’ve paid big dollars to the support the event so give them lots of attention.
Awards Night Photos
Be sure to photograph every award winner. It’s their moment to shine on stage and receive the accolades of dedication to their craft. These photos will be treasured for a lifetime. Award winners get a chance to say a few words, thank their colleagues and customers after picking up their trophy. A photo at the lectern is also a good idea. Awards night photo tip, if you have just been taking photos of the guest at their well lit tables, remember to make the necessary camera adjustments for the spot lighting on stage.
The excitement really started to show through the photos as the night progressed and the winners’ list became clearer. Great buzz.