10 Tips on Taking Story-Telling Photos at Trade Shows

by June Jiang | August 4, 2013

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After months of careful planning and preparation to attend the trade show, you, the business owner, or company representative, finally made it to the show with some striking product photography to showcase your products or services on trade show print marketing materials such as banners, brochures, tri-folds, booklets, and more. Perhaps you have not realized, it’s equally important to photograph your presence at the show so that customers gain knowledge on your position in the industry.  You may want to photograph your booth, your speakers, and the trade show as a whole, then use these photos in your blogs, news update, newsletters and print marketing materials. The following tips will help you take better photos at trade shows.

1. Be an Early Bird. Big crowds accumulate quickly at large scale trade shows. It could be hard to maneuver close to your subject, or the crowds can be obstructive for your images.  It is wise to arrive as early as possible to avoid the crowd.

tradeshow photography tips from Smartpress.com 2. Use Wide Angle Lens. With hundreds of booths and thousands of people at large trade shows, you will want to tell the story by taking a wide shot of the large exhibit space. Bring your fisheye lens if you have one to get a unique perspective. If not, use the widest focal length on your mid-range zoom lens. If you have neither lens, find a high spot to get a wider coverage of the room.

3.  Zoom in. Shooting wide is story-telling, zoom in is also story-telling. Sometimes you can compose a powerful image by zooming onto a product, may it be an interesting logo, a nice shape or color contrast, or some details you want to document. As shown in the sample photo, the car logo on the spare tire makes an interesting composition which attract viewers attention.

4. Choose a Unique Angle.  We often take photos at our eye level, try a different angle, go higher or lower, you will get a very different perspective. This means you can not stay at one spot, walk around, climb some stairs, and maybe get down on the floor, good photographers will constantly be on the move.

tradeshow photography tips from Smartpress.com5. Shoot Manual. Lighting can be complex at the exhibit hall with all kind of lights from all directions. Automatic modes may not give good results because the camera is not as “smart” as we want them to be. It is essential to shoot manual where you have total control of your shutter speed and aperture.

6. Use Small Aperture. When shooting wide, you want a clear, sharp image of the trade show as a whole. Use a small aperture as long as you can keep the shutter speed high enough to not blur the picture. A tripod might not be feasible due to limited floor space and the crowd.

7. Use Large Aperture. If you have a speaker at the trade show, or if there is an industry leader at the show that you want to take a photo during the speech, it’s good to use large aperture to blur the background so viewers will focus on the speaker’s face and expression.

tradeshow photography tips from Smartpress.com

8. Shoot in JPEG. I always stress the importance of taking pictures in RAW format regardless of the occasion. However, at a trade show, you will need to consider shooting JPEG because these news worthy materials need to be uploaded to your blog and website right away.  You may not have much time to edit and convert RAW images, either. My advice is to choose the RAW + JPG option on your camera when you shoot. The camera will automatically save a JPEG copy along with the RAW data.

9. Use an External Flash. Flash is useless when shooting wide, but when shooting your display booth, an external flash might be needed. Since the ceiling might be too high to bounce the flash off, you can use a stroboframe to increase the space between the flash and your camera to get a better result.

10. Set the Correct Color Temperature.  As lighting might be tricky at trade shows, so may the color temperature due to mixed type of lighting around. Auto white balance may not work well, so you should consider setting the color temperature manually on the camera. Daylight color temperature is 5500 K, indoor exhibit halls might have a much lower color temperature, so estimate the color temperature with some trial and error and you will get the correct number set.

With these photography tips and tricks, you’re sure to get some great imagery from your trade show experience to include in your future online and print marketing materials.

If you liked this post, please check out our photography tips and tricks category for more great information like this.

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