Photographing corporate events – flash or no flash?
Mirrorless cameras offering an electronic shutter which is truly silent, is one of the best advantages to using mirrorless cameras over DSLRs. With these types of events, I really do prefer using a silent shutter, so I can take enough photos where the speaker doesn’t have odd expressions and weird mouth shapes. You really have to over-shoot to be sure you have enough usable images which you can give to your client. With flash and the shutter sound, at quieter events, I am sure it can be distracting to the speaker to have every movement tracked with a *click* and the flash. And in turn, I too start to cringe every time the shutter clicks. So taking a huge number of photos without the shutter sound, is a major advantage to me.
The sequence of images above are from a recent corporate event I photographed. But with this event, the personalities were more gregarious and the crowd rowdy .. so me taking a fair number of photos of each speaker, wasn’t nearly as potentially distracting as it might have been … so I used bounce flash here to augment the spotlight on the person speaking.
I gelled my flash with 1/2 CTS gel to better match the spotlight in color balance. Here’s more about why and how I would gel flash for Incandescent light / Tungsten light
And as usual, I bounced the flash up and behind me into the room and onto the ceiling. Just enough light returned to make the light very sweet indeed. The thought-process for me with bouncing my flash, is that I bounce my flash into the direction I want the light to come from. In this case, I bounced my flash into the room behind me, partially hitting the ceiling. But I rarely bounce my flash straight up, since that isn’t the direction I want my light to come from.
1/250 @ f/2 @ 1600 ISO
The shutter speed I used here was unusually high for event photography indoors — except they had a spotlight on the speaker at the podium. I therefore used a high shutter speed – specifically maximum flash sync speed – to keep the spotlight under control, and allow me maximum efficient use of flash. If you’re curious about the significance of using maximum flash sync speed here to give me maximum range of my flash, here is a video tutorial on High Speed Flash Sync (HSS)
Camera settings for these images
- 1/250 @ f/2 @ 1600 ISO
- bounce flash, gelled
- Sony A9 camera (B&H / Amazon)
- Sony FE 135mm f/1.8 GM lens (B&H / Amazon)
- Profoto A1x flash for Sony (B&H / Amazon)
- Event photography in low light
- gelling flash for Incandescent light / Tungsten light
- Electronic / silent shutter of the Sony A9 vs Sony A7iii + A7Riii
- Silent Shutter / Electronic shutter vs mechanical shutter
- video tutorial on High Speed Flash Sync (HSS)
- Bounce flash photography – when to use maximum flash power
- review: Sony 135mm f/1.8 GM lens
- Event photographer NYC & NJ – New York – New Jersey
8 Comments, Add Your Own
As usual, your lighting is excellent. The light is even throughout the majority of each image.
Since you used a Sony camera, what flash are you using? Are you using a Profoto A10/A1X, a Sony-branded flash, or something else? I’m familiar with your Nikon setup from past articles and posts, but not your Sony setup.
1.1Neil vN says
I use the Profoto A1x flash. I will add it to the list of gear.
2REGINALD HUGHEY says
As I shoot more events(corporate, weddings, baby showers etc.), there’s usually a Videographer hired for the event. Oftentimes, I work/collaborate with this professional because I KNOW he/she is at this event for the same reason I’m there: to capture great visuals AND get a check!!! The last (2) events, the video professional “told me” that my flash,
(4) Quantums, one in each corner of the room, and (1) on the bracket, “messes with his/her video”. It took every fiber of my being to not tell these individuals, “there are limits to our respective technologies AND “I get paid for RESULS: not EXCUSES”!
Are there such “concerns” weighing on your mind when you’re shooting an event inside with flash?
(Sorry to be so wordy)… Thanks for any advice you can offer.
Reggie Hughey, ATL
2.1Neil vN says
I try not to use flash for these types of indoor events, but often enough the existing light is very uneven, and just horrid … then I have to sweeten it with some (gelled) flash.
And yes, I am very aware of this when there is a videographer, and try to avoid using flash. Which is why I prefer fast prime lenses. But when I am stuck between having to choose whether I get the photos for my client, or inconvenience the videographer, I will have to choose getting better images for my client.
2.1.1REGINALD HUGHEY says
I’d like to thank you for your “in-sight” and advice, as this issue has troubled me for quite some time.
2.1.2Simon vail says
Thank you for the post. I’d like to ask if you experience banding when using electronic shutter under artificial light. With some venues using colour changing LEDs this can be especially tricky. I have a canon r6.
18.104.22.168Neil vN says
There is a distinct possibility of banding when using the electronic shutter. Some cameras are more resistant to this, such as the Sony A1 and Sony A9 series.
It usually helps playing with the shutter speed to see if you can lower it to the point where the banding is less obnoxious (or gone), but still have a handhold able shutter speed.
3Valent Lau says
I agree, flash can be distracting, and an angry speaker may even call you out for it! I’ve seen it happen. And once a videographer got royally told where to go when they stayed “under his nose” from in front of the stage for too long. Poor guy, he was donating his services to the event too.