I have often told people that one of my favorite things about being an event photographer is that there is an anonymity associated with being behind a camera.
“He is a photographer, not someone I need to schmooze with or impress or cater to,” is what the exaggerated reality tends to be at conferences and events. I say this tongue-in-cheek, of course, because event attendees are great sports. Some like to stop and chat for a bit and some even offer to get me coffee or a snack. People are great!
The huge advantage, in my opinion, that comes with the anonymity of being behind a camera is that I can scan the room at an event with a long lens and find honest moments that are happening. A smile. A laugh. A handshake. A toast. If I were to pull together a group of people and have them clink their drinking glasses on cue it would remove a bit of the authenticity. The photograph could still turn out great, but capturing it as it happens saves myself and event attendees time.
Candids are of course also a great way of capturing true, raw emotion in an unobtrusive way. If you have never done a search for great emotional images from weddings or celebrations, you will be blown away at some of the wonderful photographs that have been captured over time.
Another extremely useful reason I love candid photography is that capturing a great image of a public speaker is one of the hardest things to do. When people talk, their mouths are moving constantly and their head and line of sight is also frequently changing. It is a dreadful feeling to not come out with a “keeper” or “deliverable” image in that scenario.
One thing to keep in mind: before and after the speeches, the speakers are often engaged in conversations with fellow dignitaries or attendees. This is a perfect time to capture a candid of the keynote speaker. Perhaps they are listening to someone speak or sharing a laugh. That photo could very well turn out better than one of them giving a speech, especially if other uncontrollable factors are also making the photographer’s job difficult. Some examples of uncontrollable factors: the room or stage is barren, poorly lit or simply not photographer accessible.