Photographing Smidig 2014

Posted: 2014-10-28

So I've just spent the last two days being the conference photographer for Smidig 2014. Last thursday my boss (who is also on the management team for the conference) said "I'll get you free tickets if you photograph the event". Now I know that Smidig is run by a volunteer team - quite a few of whom I know from other activities - so I said OK.

Jim Benson's keynote
Jim Benson's keynote
Jim Benson's keynote
Jim Benson's keynote

Planning

I've never been a conference photographer before - so it was also a learning curve for me. What do we need pictures of, what times do we need to get things done by. Who's publishing what and where?

I'd set up a sort of workflow in Lightroom. Started with a standard import preset for metadata. Then I created a collection set and an All collection. From there I created four smart collections - all based on Image is in the All collection and adding 3 stars and square for instagram, 3 stars and not square for other social media, and finally one filtered by date (for each day).

Finally two publish collections - on dropbox - one for instagram - one for not instagram. These used a custom renaming format for providing timestamp information to the users (helps to find out who's who when you know what timeslot the image was taken in).

So how was it?

Johannes Brodwall
Johannes Brodwall
Ketil Jensen - Lean Coffee
Ketil Jensen - Lean Coffee

Social Media

Looking back - the photographer should not be the person doing the social media interaction. There simply isn't time.

I was supposed to be pushing images out on twitter and instagram.

Instagram is especially difficult - it blocks and prevents all posting methods that are not on a mobile device. This takes time. In addition - all the time you're tagging names in the photos, posting etc - you're not taking images. We figured this out underway - and got someone else to do the instagram work - but this should be prepared for in advance.

There should therefore be a specific person at any given time who's job is to pick up incoming images from dropbox, finding out who they are pictures of and pushing out to all social media channels.

Lighting

Conference rooms are never lit well enough. I was lucky that the main room had extra lighting - but the smaller rooms - no. Be prepared to drag every slider to bring the photo back to life - and shoot raw.

Lunch
Lunch
Lunch break
Lunch break

Other

You're going to do a lot of running from room to room (given that smidig uses a lot of lightning talks - 10 mins per speaker).

Shoot in raw.

Set up your presets - metadata, perhaps clarity/vibrance and sharpening (just as starting points).

White balance shifts from room to room - hard to keep up. Use the white balance dropper - often at conferences there are tables with white tablecloths - these work well.

Shot List

Shots we wanted:

  • Rigging
  • Speakers
  • Audiences
  • Workshops
  • Sponsors
  • Mingling
  • Food

etc etc.

I think I did OK - you an see a few shots here - and more on twitter and instagram.

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