AEC Event Photography: Crowd Control in the Digital Age
I recently photographed an AEC ground breaking event last month in Suffield, CT for the Kent Memorial Library Groundbreaking Ceremony: Mary Anne Zak Entrance.
When I arrived, there was some site prep work to do, even for a simple event shoot like this one. Surveying the situation, I cleared fallen branches from the hill, and repositioned the AV power cord for the loud speaker in a better spot on the lawn (which minimized it for easy removal in post-processing). I was there for the Town of Suffield to capture their shot list, a short and clearly defined one. As I do more and more of these support events, more and more participants are ready and waiting with their smart phones and tablets in hand (don't get me started!), crowd control and taking overall control of the subjects, to get the images required for your client, are front and center every time.
I was thrilled that so many in the community turned out for the event, see the group image below, but I also need the public to understand that I'm there, on a paid job to 'get' the shots. Once I get them, all are welcome to take their own, but kindly asking everyone to hold off until I've completed what I need to do, is essential.
Images like the above with a larger of participants in motion, offers a slim chance you'll get them all doing the preferred thing (looking at the camera), so there is always some post-processing involved to get it just right. We guarantee no one there got the shot we did. It took pieces of four photographs to create this final image.
I enjoy local community events and the energy of a crowd is always a huge part of it. As photographers, we need to be aware of the 'bigger picture'. Pun intended. In the lead image (above) for example, I had to ask someone standing at the very top (and center!) of the hill in front of the building entrance to please move. First they stepped to one side, which you know did not do the trick. So I had to ask them again to please come down from above (aka, exit the shot). I know they wanted to take images with their Smartphone from up there, but I needed to get that shot and again, minimize the editing involved wherever I have control over it to keep the project in budget. Someone said 'just Photoshop it' to remove them (some low volume LOLs rippled through the crowd), but in this case they were standing in an area with limited ability to clone similar background elements and remove them. So no, in this case, the choice was not to Photoshop them out. That costs extra time and money and was not in budget. So when you're not being paid that extra time and money, kindly asking the person to move out of the frame and get the shot right in-camera is required. Period.
For this final image, I wanted full community participation, so the gent (formerly up on the hill) was also welcome to get in the frame along with everyone else now. All did a great job ensuring I got the shot!
I offer this perspective to you so you get an inside view of my process during even the smallest of event projects. They require planning in advance as they move swiftly, and they also require me to be very alert and aware on my feet as it unfolds. With each project, I welcome a new challenge to raise the bar of my skill sets and how well I work to deliver results for my clients. It's a very good thing.
About Heather Conley
I've been a marketing professional for more than 20 years and am still marketing now, with my camera. I'm happiest when interactively collaborating with my clients and shooting on location - - particularly when I can get up high on a ladder or in a lift bucket! Gone are the days when a creative 'team' came to the table to manage a project. The middlemen have disappeared, so the creative direction, technical knowledge and project management skills I offer give my clients great value and help them simplify the process. As the daughter of a custom woodworker, one of my first gifts as a child was not an Easy-Bake Oven, but a tool belt to start building something. An appreciation of the finer details and quality of craftsmanship is at the foundation of what I do; the passion and artistry I deliver for my clients is why we continue to collaborate year after year.