Photoshoot Tips for Charity Event

Sending out your big check photos to newspapers and online sources is a huge part of publicity for the big check. I interviewed a local photographer, Tania Palermo, to find out some techniques to improve photo quality in big check photo shoots.

I'd like to ask you some questions on how to make our customers’ big check stand out better in photos and if you have techniques they can use to improve photo quality.

I'm assuming most folks are using a point and shoot camera on Auto mode - and I use a DSLR on Manual - and my ability to control all my settings makes a huge difference in the image quality. I also have studio lighting to take advantage of.

What can big check customers do to make the check stand out in a photo?

An important element in any image - and especially in one where you want the check as the subject to stand out is to think about the surroundings. An uncluttered background is key. Separation from the background is also important. If they can find a blank wall to use as a background - and stand 5-10 feet away from the wall - it will help them, and the check stand out. The second thing to know is that the eye goes to the lightest area in an image first. So - if the check is white, having all the people dress in darker tones may draw the eye towards the check.

What lighting is appropriate for a picture like this?

I would try to use broad lighting with few shadows. Again - this is something I would handle with my camera settings, reflectors and studio lighting. Having people at a 45 degree angle to natural window light could work. You can use any sort of reflective surface - like a white piece of foam core board for example - to bounce light back onto the subjects. So - if you had everyone at a 45 degree angle to the window light and then had someone holding a white reflective surface towards the window so it bounced light back on the subject it could ensure that everyone was lit properly. Florescent lighting is not flattering. If the camera allows - I would read the manual and change the White Balance - this would greatly improve the effects of florescent lights.

Is there a difference in lighting between 2 people and 10 people in a photo?

Sure. It's harder to get broad, even light on more than one subject at a time. That's what things like reflectors are used for. Light falls off quickly. So let's say you are indoors again - using that natural light from the window. It will be brighter on the subjects closest to the window and quickly get darker just a few people away from the window. That's why you need an equal amount of light coming from the other side to balance everything out. 

How can you reduce glare on dry erase checks?

You can certainly play with the angle of the lighting, the check and the camera. Sometimes it's a matter, as the photographer, of moving around your subject until you find the right angle.

What can you do about outdoor lighting?

Best times of day to shoot outdoors are dawn and dusk-ish. Never at noon - to midday. You want the light to fall on the subjects at an angle. Open shade works well. Never under trees or anything like that - as it will just create splotchy, unflattering light. I prefer an hour or two before sunset. Being 45 degrees to the light can be flattering - and again - use something to help reflect and fill in the light. This could be using the wall of a white building to reflect light - or carrying white poster board or foam board to use as a reflector.

Anything else you can think of to help people make their check stand out in the photo. They do these for charity events and have limited funds (probably can't buy a better camera).

It's important for them to know that getting a decent group shot can be hard - even for a professional photographer - so tell them to just do their best. It's OK to take your time. Consider the setting you are in, walk around looking at the way the light hits the check at different angles. Consider taking several photos - make one eye level, one from up above (bring a step stool to shoot from) - etc - to give themselves choices. There is something called the "rule of thirds" that you can look up. It explains where the eye naturally falls when looking at images - and could help them position the check in their framing. Uniformity might help - like having everyone dress in complimentary colors - with no big logos, patterns, stripes, jewelry, etc - so that the check is the main subject and is not competing with everyone's outfits for attention. The camera doesn't make the picture, the photographer does. They can get a decent image with a point and shoot if they familiarize themselves with it a little. Use a tripod or and stable surface as a tripod - to prevent camera shake in the image. Read up about White Balance. Take time setting up the shot.