Conference photography: London Power Forum

Sometimes being a corporate photographer gives me an insight into areas of business that I would  otherwise never have expected to have come across in a month of Sundays. This was a classic case in point – the extremely niche, but extremely fascinating, world of power station insurance. The London Power Forum gather once a year, and I was lucky enough to have been chosen to photograph this year’s conference. It was held right in the middle of London, a stone’s throw from the Houses of Parliament, which I guess is kind of appropriate for a conference on power…

The venue was Altitude 360, at the top of Millbank Tower. I’ve photographed here on a number of occasions before and it’s always a pleasure. Not only does it offer a spectacular panoramic view of central London, looking along the Thames to the City and Canary Wharf in one direction, and across to Battersea Power Station the other way, but it’s a great venue to shoot in too. With wall-to-wall windows, the place is flooded with natural light – I find this great for working in an unobtrusive manner as there’s less need for flash, but it also allows for lovely light backgrounds and that nice high-key lifestyle look.

Despite the very specific subject matter, from a photography point of view, this was a fairly standard brief for me. Key with this sort of thing is to try to capture the buzz and feel of the event – and with this kind of subject matter, where there are a lot of experts exchanging ideas and information, I find it can be a real gift. As a photographer, I try to capture moments that show interaction or some sort of emotion, while at the same time keeping an eye on composition, lighting, and using a suitable depth of field to make the key element of the frame stand out. (This was something that I found was key when I was challenged by Nikon to a shoot-out with an amateur photographer).

The other obvious element to conference photography is to make sure you’ve got a good coverage of all the speakers, and plenty of shots of interested-looking audience members, plus of course plenty of branding too. My images for this kind of thing (ie annual conferences, summits, or forums…) are usually used not only to provide a report of the event, but are often utilised to help promote the following year’s event. So a good coverage of the day, including a broad selection of marketable shots is essential. The perfect shot for me is something that is able to combine all of the above elements – it will be well composed, show a particular key moment (whether some interaction between delegates or a particularly interesting expression from a speaker), plus it will provide context, which means often having some reference to the event in terms of branding in the background.

As usual with this kind of shoot, I make the images available to the client via a password-protected web archive. In the case of regular annual events, I group all of the events together in galleries that are all accessible from one page, so over the years a useful archive starts to build up. This can be useful for clients to refer back to, and of course all the high-res images remain accessible to download online. Have a look at my conference photography samples if you’d like to see more of this kind of work.

Some of the shots from the day are below, including an image of the spectacular night-time view from the tower once the sun had set. This was a really enjoyable day for me – a satisfying collection of images, plus a chance to learn something new – and see some pretty spectacular videos of what happens when a power station catches fire…

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