We’re bringing you a helpful and insightful six-part series on photography! Why? Because we want to show you how low-light photography can be mastered and used to expand your mobile entertainment business. Read on!
Part 2 — What to Shoot?
by Ben Dickmann, Product Manager for CHAUVET Professional and ILUMINARC
Sell the sizzle, not the steak. Besides being a photographer and product manager, I spent many years in marketing. In fact, that’s what I went to college for. I’ve spent a lot of time researching visual stimulation as a trigger for purchase, as well as the emotional impact of visual imagery — in other words, the “science” of advertising. One thing that always sticks in my head is something a professor once said; sell the sizzle, not the steak. This means show the person what they are getting, not what it takes to get it. I’m a technical person at heart, a gadget geek, as I’m sure many of you reading this are. However, most people, especially brides, AREN’T. While a picture of your mixing gear (turntables, laptop, etc.) or speaker array is impressive to you, that is steak — there is no sizzle. Remember, you are selling an event and a service. So, while showing that you have quality equipment is important, it’s secondary. Put the client in the scene because they want to see themselves in the scene.There are two types of shots we’re going to look at: scenery and action. Both have a purpose — how and where you use them is important, but you need both to effectively market yourself. Scenery shots, these are the shots you want to lead with on your website or brochure, need to be in the fanciest venue you work, with your best lighting and audio rig. Remember, you want the customer to place themselves in the scene to get that emotional connection — are you picking up on my repetitive theme yet? Do you want to picture yourself in that dreary, mid-century decorated, multi-purpose room at the local Moose Lodge or in that opulent lakeside ballroom at the best hotel in town? Let’s choose the latter, trust me on this. So, a little pre-planning is needed here. When you know you are going to be working in one of these premier rooms, see if you can get in a little earlier. Get your rig set and get shots of the entire room with no one in it (we’ll get into this more later). This is the scenery. You are giving the customer a scene to put themselves into.
Action shots are the other major category of shots you want to get. This is where you can be creative and let it show. Have someone you trust photograph your party including the full dance floors, special effects (like bubbles or low-lying fog), you working the tables, etc. Also, don’t be afraid to use a flash or fill light, but allow the light from your rig do its job. You can achieve an outstanding photo simply by playing with the horizon line. In the industry this is called a “Dutch Angle.” You’ve seen it before — it’s where you take a shot with the camera tilted 25-45 degrees off level. It’s a very unique prospective, but don’t overdo it either. One word of caution: be careful with people’s faces, ESPECIALLY kids. There is an expectation of privacy at private events and you should get a written release to use someone’s face in your commercial materials. 999 out of 1000 times, it won’t be an issue. However, legally speaking, anyone recognizable in a photo used for commercial purposes is considered a model and needs to grant permission for you to use their likeness. An easy, creative way around this is blurred crowds, but we’ll get into this later.
Gear shots are good to have and nothing says you can’t be creative with them. Again, dramatic splashes of color across a speaker grill or a turntable is MUCH more interesting than just white lit, straight on shots. Be creative with the angles, shadows and zoom. Make it something you WANT to look at.