If you are organizing an event and there is a stage or riser with speakers and panelists, professional stage-lighting should be seriously considered. Here’s why:
Sound is usually well taken care of, but I am always amazed when there is a stage or a riser with no professional lights (ie) just the lighting of the room.
Some thoughts on the ins-and-outs of stage-lights and why they are important:
(a) With only overhead lighting, you can get a raccoon-eyes effect for panelists and speakers. Bad for pictures. Highly unflattering for those on stage.
(b) With only existing light, if the panelists are recessed on stage, the light can fall off drastically once it reaches their face. This results in your speakers not being very visible to the audience. Additionally, this darkening effect is exacerbated if they are sitting underneath a large screen that mostly shows content with white or light backgrounds.
(c) If your panelists/speakers are not properly lit, your photographer will have to stretch the technical capabilities of their camera to get decent shots - and even then, they will be limited by how well the person(s) is lit. I have been in some circumstances where the ONLY way of getting any good shots is to use a flash.
(d) Having to resort to flash is very problematic when photographing speeches and panel discussions. It’s highly distracting to both speakers and the audience. The upshot: WAY less shots will be taken, with less probability of getting, at minimum, the required shots and ideally, some excellent and flattering shots of everyone on stage.
(e) Sometimes, your boss is one of the speakers and he/she doesn’t like stage-lighting because it can be very bright for those on-stage. This might make the boss think this means they look overly lit. This is not the case. Indeed, professional lights can seem a bit bright to speakers but still not be illuminating them enough for the audience – or the photographer. Ultimately, sometimes it becomes an interplay between the stage being appropriately lit and those on stage feeling a little ‘hot under the lights’. If you are paying a professional photographer and the quality of the final images is important (ie) for website, marketing and social media use - then those on the stage might need to accept a modicum of discomfort in order to get good pictures.
(f) Breakout rooms – sometimes the main stage is lit but other smaller rooms at the event with risers/speakers are not lit. These rooms can sometimes have a basement feel to them and they can also be long so that people toward the back can barely make out the people on stage. Terrible for both photographer and audience.
(g) Budget - Of course, there are always budgetary considerations when organizing a corporate event. Stage-lighting may seem like an optional expenditure, until you consider some big picture consequences which are not always obvious, yet certainly impactful. Unless the room is bright, the absence of stage lighting is consciously/unconsciously noticed by the audience. It looks and feels unprofessional. Like something has been overlooked or skimped on. Aesthetics is very important in our world. People appreciate when things and people look good – which, like it or not, gives more credibility and pizzazz to the content, look and feel of your event. It may be an event, in part, to entice members of the audience to become new clients. Isn’t it worth it to spend an additional $1000 that will make your company look like it crosses its t’s and dots its i’s on all fronts? A company that understands and considers the unprecedented significance of aesthetics and visual imagery on all fronts in today’s corporate world?
Our recommendation. Spend that little extra on stage-lighting. It will make for a better audience experience and better corporate event photography.
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