5 Selfie Faux-Pas

The CSE National Expo was so great this year! Aside from our photo team covering the event (see album here), attendees constantly had their smart phones out trying to take it all in. And when there is a camera in everyone’s pocket, there is a strong temptation to “selfie”! Love them or hate them, they seem to be the latest trend.

Being the social media coordinator, I thought that I’d share some tips on this newest photo genre…

  1. WHAT’S THAT BEHIND YOU? Be mindful of your background. I have to start off by saying kudos to those of you who took advantage of the logo, me and Stef definitely did haha! But this simple tip is so easily ignored. When you’re attending a gorgeous event, you are surrounded by creative lighting, wow pieces and incredible entry treatments, so why not use them? Get a selfie on that custom leopard print couch or pose with the man made of mirrors. It will make for some interesting hashtags as well as a more exciting photo. If you choose not to incorporate background elements, then get closer and fill the frame with your face(s)!
  2. DITCH THE DUCK FACE  (Don’t know what a Duck Face is? Click Here)- I will admit, I have recently looked back on images and found myself guilty of this faux pas. But to my future self, and to everyone else out there: smile, laugh, wink or stare. But under no circumstance, do a duck face. It’s not flattering and it has unanimously been labeled lame. There have been many events we’ve covered where we point a camera at a beautiful group of girls and instantly they have their lips puckered out and eyes wide. There is a subtle way to show off that gorgeous shade of lipstick without looking like an aquatic animal (and while we’re on the topic of posing as a group…no need to lean in or bend down to fit in the picture. Your photographer will take a step back if needed and you can just stand tall and strong).
  3. ARE YOU SNAP HAPPY? Make sure to pace yourself. This goes for all photos, whether on Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook. That’s awesome you had a fun evening, but no one needs (or probably wants) a play by play. If you feel so inclined to share this much then maybe wait until you have a few different shots and throw together a quick collage (make friends with InstaCollage) of your favorite moments. But probably best to leave it at that.
  4. NO DRINKING AND POSTING. You’ve all heard “Don’t drink and drive”, well the same goes for selfies. I get it…you’re celebrating or you can’t believe that you’re finally a guest at an event…that’s great! Take a quick team photo to document the moment. Try to do this BEFORE ordering your second round of tequila shots. You may not only be looking a little less than your usual lovely self, but chances are you’ll end up with a dark, blurry, unflattering image. When in doubt, take the photo but maybe wait until the next morning to decide if it’s post worthy.
  5. SMURFS NEED NOT APPLY. The point of a selfie is usually not to show where you are, or what you’re doing, but to show you. It’s a self-portrait. Don’t stand in front of a window (back to it) because you’ll become a dark, faceless silhouette. Instead, face the window and try again. If you’re at an event, look for natural or tungsten light, which your phone camera can render much easier. Avoid standing close to LED lighting: the last thing you want is to look like a smurf (unless you plan on putting #smurf #selfie).
Award Winning

Visual Storytelling: 9 tips on how to choose photos for award submissions

After my first experience judging the ILEA Esprit awards in late Spring of 2011, I was inspired to write the following article. What an amazing experience and honor this was for me! I have since been invited to judge again and every year, I learn so much from the experience. As many of you are in the process of writing your award submissions, I wanted to share with you some tips as it relates to choosing photos for your award submission.

In the midst of all the production schedules, scripts and site plans, as a special event photographer, I am always especially curious to see the visual collateral that is Award Winningbeing submitted. To me, this is where it all comes together and how I can really start to picture myself (no pun intended) experiencing the event. Sorting through photos, rating them and choosing the top ones to highlight or publish is part of what I do for a living, but after going through these award entries, I have been wondering…
As an event planner, how do you choose which photos will best illustrate your event, and which to include in your submission from the possibly hundreds of photos produced by your photographer? In other words: how do you “story tell” your event with images?
Obviously, there will be nuances to apply depending on the category that you are submitting for: the Best Event Design-Décor category will call for more décor photos, for example, and the Best Event Technical Production category may have behind the scene shots. Without going into this fine of details, here are 9 tips for choosing photos for award submissions:

1. Read the guidelines carefully: this seems like a no-brainer, but make sure that you are submitting no more than the allowed number of collateral pieces and also, that you are submitting as many pieces as you can. For example, for the ILEA Esprit award, you can submit an additional multi-media piece, which could be video, but could also be a simple photo slideshow done in PowerPoint.

2. Smallest to biggest: You will not be able to show a photo of each and every element of the event. However, make sure that you have some detail shots as well as wide angle images. This gives a sense of depth to your visual story.

3. Closest to furthest: Again to give more visual interest and depth, look for shots that are close-ups and others that are taken from afar. An example could be a close up of a speaker, or a tight shot of the signature cocktail being poured. A far away shot could be a photo from the rafters or, for an outdoor event, from the roof of an adjacent building.

4. Before: Consider adding photos before the guests arrive, such as a wide-angle room shot just before the doors open, or even setup photos or behind the scenes, for example a table full of giveaway bags, or appetizers being assembled in the kitchen. In any case, “Show-Ready” photos, taken minutes before doors are a must because of their huge wow factor: use these high impact photos as “opening shots” for your submission.

5. During: Photos of the event at its peak in energy, attendance or activity. With the right timing, equipment and visual angle, your photographer will be able to capture the excitement of the party (and leave out the rest), whether or not the dance floor or the conference room were ever full at any given time.

6. After: I am not referring to strike photos, but rather to include a “closing shot”. Remember that you are telling a story and so there should also be a conclusion. Wedding photographers are used to do this: they take photos knowing ahead of time which will be used for the last pages of the wedding album such as the couple walking away on the beach at sunset, or the couple waiving from the limo. For an event, it could be a far away shot of the outdoor event with the fireworks going on, or the crowd applauding a speaker. It does not need to be what actually happened at the end of the event, but a shot that summarizes or somehow closes the story.

7. Branding: I am not necessarily referring to a logo created for an event, or even signage, although it could be part of it. More generally, it is about theme elements that show the unique personality of your event. For a corporate event, this would be how the corporate message was illustrated; for a social event it may be colors and textures that were part of the design, and for a wedding, it could be the monograms of the couple, or other elements from the original inspiration board. In any case, make sure that you leave your branding out of it, as this would disqualify your entry. (that happens more often than you probably think..and it’s so heat breaking!!)

8. Be mindful of the sequence: Start with a good, impactful opening photo and end with a closing image. Then add a good mix of the other elements as explained above. The photos could be placed in chronological order but most often are not. Rather, they should be organized based on factors such as orientation (landscape together, portrait together), location (outside then inside), people (empty rooms and details first, then crowd/people photos), activity (décor, then speakers, then food, then entertainment), etc. However you achieve this, aim to create a flow and it will be easier for your audience to grasp your event.

9. Collaborate with your photographer: Lay out clear expectations by mentioning that you are planning to submit for an award, offer a shot list and you can even share this article if you’d like! Why not use your photographer’s professional skills to your advantage even after the event by inviting him or her to collaborate when you are choosing which photos will best tell your visual story.

These tips are meant for choosing visual collateral for your award submissions, however you can use the same guidelines when selecting which photos to post to your blog, website or Facebook Page. A well-constructed visual story is powerful, and will gain you an interested audience and (this is my wish for you) many awards!

Was this post helpful to you? How do YOU choose which photos to submit? Please post your comments or questions below; I’d love to hear from you!