Get the Right Shot - Public Speaking Photography Tips

Jonathan Peters and Monica Cornetti high five on stage.
Who doesn't want a great looking photo of him- or herself speaking? Though I am not a professional photographer, I have been asked to photograph speakers speaking on several occasions and thought I would share some tips that will deliver the shots you want:

- Prior to your presentation, have the photographer scope out the room and stage. This will allow them to evaluate the lighting, seating, and room layout to get the best shot.

- Let the photographer know when you will be making your most impactful points during your speech, such as: large gestures, audience participation, off stage activity, displaying meaningful presentation slides, holding props.

- Good shots to get:
Photographer facing you: tops of the audience heads while you speak; audience standing and cheering with arms in the air, pumping fists, or some activity you ask them to do; you and the screen with a projected slide of your brand or impactful point; you on stage with your table of props/books. 

Photographer behind you: your entire body in front of an engaged audience; waist up with hand/arm gestures and audience in the background.

Photographer at your side: your profile as you lean in with the audience in background; a profile of you smiling while the audience is clapping and smiling.

Other shots: you interacting with attendees, event host, and other speakers; your back of the room table with people looking through items; your table setup with products without people; you speaking with people at your back of the room table; you shaking hands or hugging people; visiting with vendors at their exhibits; pose with people in front of your retractable banner or other branded signage; pose with the event host, sponsors, and other speakers; pose with your book or product with a busy or interesting background.

- Hire a professional photographer who is familiar with journalism photography. Studio and outdoor photographers may not have the knowledge to get the best shot. Look at a photographer's portfolio and hire the one that speaks to you most. Tell them which photos you like and ask if they can do that for you.

- If hiring a professional is not an option, you can ask a friend to help but make sure they know their equipment. Most digital cameras with a 6-megapixel sensor set at full resolution will produce a photo that can be used for printing up to 15 inches wide (at 200 dpi) without much loss in quality. For large printing projects such as a 6 foot retractable banner or 24" x 36" poster, a digital camera at 10-megapixels or more set at full sensor resolution is desired.

- Avoid using a mobile device, like a cell phone, to take a photo. Even if the photo turns out fantastic, it may not be the right size for use on printed materials such as a speaker sheet or banner. Most point and shoot cameras offer better quality than a mobile device.

- Be sure to include in the attendee registration and speaker and vendor contracts that photos will be taken and you reserve the right to use their likeness in your marketing or promotional materials. Inquire with an attorney and/or local laws to ensure you are not violating any rights.

Alicia White, CEO of Back of the Room Productions™, helps speakers, coaches, authors, business experts and thought leaders monetize their message every time they speak. From speaker sheets to back of the room products, clients receive high-level graphic design and expert branding strategy on how to use their marketing products.

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  1. Great Article Alicia!
    Great Tips since I will be needing one in January.
    Going to reach out to You ��

  2. Awesome article with great tips!