From time to time I get the opportunity to photograph Celebrities or TV personalities, this isn't on a one-to-one portrait basis, but usually as part of a opening ceremony of a hospital, school or charity event. I'd recently photographed the Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy's school prospectus and was asked back to photograph their official opening ceremony.
On this occasion, I had the pleasure of meeting/photographing comedy legend John Bishop. He and the local Mayor were amongst the VIP guests invited to partake in the opening of Ormiston Bolingbroke Academy and they were extremely generous with their time and praise.
In my experience the only real difference between photographing celebrities and non-celebrities is the level of comfort that they have around cameras and John Bishop was no different. He was a gentleman, a very clever and funny man (it's his job), he'd grown up and previously went to the old school at Bolingbroke, so it was very kind of him to show his support for the new Academy.
The day consisted of the usual speeches and a tour of the school. In the main atria the students put on an impressive display of young talent, dancing, ball skills and computer technology and they were eager to convey their enthusiasm for their school. John was warm, approachable and offer encouragement to all the students, especially to those in the drama class who were busy rehearsing a scene in Shakespeare's - MacBeth.
Time is always a huge limiting factor with events of this type, the VIP's have a small window to offer and its essential to get the key shots taken with as little fuss and interruption to the schedule as possible.
Tips: Gaining as much information about the activities and timings ahead of time is crucial. Arrive early to your event, this allows you to scope the locations out and to start thinking ahead about to the lenses and camera settings the different locations will require. Moving from an inside to outside can be pretty challenging (weather permitting). So when the pressure is on, having a plan and minimising your lens changes is key to being ready and not missing the moment. Of course changes to the plan are bound to happen, so when the VIP goes off schedule and does something unexpected, you can be ready to capture this without fumbling inside a camera bag looking for a new lens. When time is really tight, dedicated bodies with different lenses on each can be useful, but not essential. Being familiar with your kit and knowing the locations is far more valuable.
I look for and attempt to predict 'touch points', these are where you can build a story for the audience to understand the importance of the event. Look for creative angles within your environment and chose locations that frame the VIP's in context to the event. It's too easy to lose your focus in the fickle hype of celebrity fame, so keep in mind the images are for promotional purposes; capture images in areas that really sell the benefits of the school that the students work in.
I hope you find this useful and I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences with event photography. Please feel free to share them below.
In the meantime, here's a small selection of the PR style images from the opening ceremony.