Speakers And Presenters: Let The Photographer Be Your Friend

Guest speakers and meeting organizers usually present for civic or professional organizations. The organization may have a professional photographer or a member on hand to photograph the event.  After all, they may wish to publish photographs for marketing purposes on the organization’s web site, blog or newsletter.  

When the audience listens to you speak, they see facial expressions, hear your voice, and watch your mouth as you make your presentation.

A Thomas Image - Photography
Figure 1

Everything the audience sees and hears combine and flow smoothly making the speaker sound normal.

However, the camera freezes a single instant in time.  The camera doesn’t listen or see as we do.  The camera catches the facial expression, the shape of your mouth and your lips just as you speak in a single instant (See figure 1).  Trust me these expressions can be hilarious.  

So do the organization, the photographer and yourself a favor.  Think about working with the photographer!  

He/she should be easy to spot – they’re the one with a camera getting paid to shoot the event… although there may be multiple photographers present.

As if there wasn’t enough pressure on you in front of a crowd, now you’re saying – “A photographer?”  

Don’t worry; here are a few tips to help create good images that make you look like the entertaining, confident and expert speaker that you are! 

Do’s and Don’ts of working with a photographer

DO look your best

Regarding hair and clothing; most speakers will make sure everything is fixed, tucked, zipped, the tie is straight and the hair is combed.  The camera will catch everything little thing.

DO pose a bit

As you move about the room or podium and see the photographer, go ahead and pose. We’re not talking about posing for a portrait, but a quick stop or pause, look at the photographer and smile (See figure 2).  

A Thomas Image - Photography 2

Figure 2

In the beginning it may seem long and drawn out, but over time it will become second nature. A careful intentional pose will help the photographer and he/she will notice your cues. Soon the photographer will pick up on your timing and these “poses” will become almost invisible to the audience and have a natural flow.

DO stand up straight

All speakers or emcees should have good posture, so remember to stand up straight. If you’re the type to work the podium or use certain movements or body positions, don’t worry.  It’ll all look great when photographed.  The action will stand out.

DO consider your props and flip charts

Consider your props and “flip-charts”.  Colorful and bold lettering and graphics photograph well and help tell the story.  Besides they’re easier for your audience to read. Also consider your position relative to these items and the photographer.  Pause when holding the maker or pointer, rest it right on the chart, and then give a glancing look at the photographer.

And here are a few don’ts…

DON’T worry too much about movements or expressions

While it’s true that animated speakers or those that use gestures photograph well and are more likely to look calm and professional when photographed, you can easily mimic a few of these gestures when you intentionally pose for the photographer.  And if you’re not the most animated speaker, try becoming one.

DON’T hide the awards

If you’re handing out an award, turn yourself and the recipient in the direction of the photographer and smile for the camera.  Don’t forget about the award; hold it in front of you (right side up is helpful) so it’s visible to the camera. If the award is bright white or behind glass, tip it forward and downward to minimize glare.

DON’T neglect the handshake

Hold onto to the other person’s hand, stop the handshake so the photographer can catch that moment and again, look at the photographer. This makes for a great shot. You can even prompt the other person by pointing to the photographer or go so far as to quietly tell the other person to look at the camera.  Don’t worry; chances are the audience won’t hear you direct the other person.  And if they do – so what?

DON’T be quick to run off

A good photographer will want to take multiple exposures of the moment.  You’ll be given “nod” or quick wave when the photographer is finished. 

A guest speaker is special at an event or a meeting.  Take the time to work with the photographer.  It lets the audience know they’re attending something special.  Why shouldn’t you appear special to them?  Attendees will also feel the event or meeting was a wise use of their time when they see it being photographed. 

All you have to do is pause, look at the camera and smile.  You’re happy to be talking about your favorite topic – right?  Let it show and smile. The images will speak for themselves.  Keep these simple suggestions in mind and you’ll look like the pro that you are!

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