By Douglas Gritz
Bausch Health held their annual awards event at a hotel in Denver’s Cherry Creek neighborhood this week. They hired me to provide corporate event photography services.
When we spoke about the plans for the evening, their primary focus was on the awards presentation. They desired a posed photo of each recipient holding their award with the presenters. This is a common event at a corporate conference so I have a lot of experience shooting this type of thing. On first blush it sounds simple, put the people together, hold up the trophy, tell them to smile, and snap the photo. However, it is anything but.
Awards presentations are held in dark rooms. The stage is lit, yes, but you can’t count on the award winner actually stepping on stage to get their award. And often there is a bright PowerPoint slide on a screen above the stage, which looks terrible in a photo. In the case of Bausch Health’s event, the stage was too small AND they had a bright white PowerPoint slide up. The kiss of death.
So to work around this, I bring an on-camera strobe and I set it to manual. Sure, “auto” is easier, but few things drive me nuts more than images taken with a flash where the subjects look like they are on fire in a dark cave. So I use manual instead so that I can balance the flash output with existing ambient light to get a much more natural and pleasing look.
The other crucial element is finding a good spot to have the subjects stand. They will naturally want to stand in front of the stage, which means again you’re faced with an ugly PowerPoint screen behind them. Often there is other paraphernalia in the way, like a stair railing going to the stage, a piece of the podium, etc. These look ugly.
So I always make sure to scout out a good backdrop beforehand and then get my bossy pants on to get my subjects to move into that spot. They might think it a hassle, but usually they see me as the expert and will follow my lead. Also, that moment lasts, well, a moment. The photo lasts forever. Photographs replace memories so it is important to get them right.
Below is an example of the award presentation shot I got at the Bausch Health event along with some of my favorites from the pre-party mixer beforehand.