How To Photograph The Mayor…

I thought about titling this tutorial using common slang, but the idea of posting “How To Shoot The Mayor” just didn’t sound right. If you are coming here to look for some sort of deviant tutorial, you just wasted a click of your mouse or a tap of your mobile device. If you came here to get some ideas on how to successfully photograph an important public event, please read on.
I’ve photographed several Dallas mayors over the past decade, and I will most likely take pictures of several more over the coming years. Though each event serves a different purpose for the community, the key to successfully photographing it is basically the same. Follow the suggestions below to get the best shots…

The first thing to look for is an area around the edges of the room or the back of the event that you can take photos without interrupting or distracting people. Once you’ve done that, focus on getting some images that show the mayor and some of the environment. This will usually involve any important logos on the podium, and important banners or something else to help describe the where/what/when/why of the image.
Look for smiles, hand gestures and other emotions to capture. Anyone can snap an image of someone standing in front of a podium. It is your job to make the image look like the person is actually talking, inspiring and moving the audience.
Sometimes you’ll also want to get a tight shot. Not every client will have a use for these tighter shots, as they don’t really tell what the speech was in relation to. There’s no environment showing to connect with the speech and the speaker. It could’ve been shot anywhere. However, sometimes the tight ones can be the winning shot of the day, especially if the speaker is very animated. You may not focus on the tight shots for more than a few seconds, but snap a few just to be safe.

I find that the best images are ones that show people reacting to the speaker. The above sots show guests intently listening as the mayor gives his speech. Plus, there are hand gestures and big facial expressions, along with event logos and other environmental clues to let you know exactly what is taking place. These shots are usually the most important to capture.

Let’s not forget the posed shots that are often available before or after the event. Many publications like to run these images, so your client may consider them to be a crucial part of your photo assignment. They capture the key speaker with other VIP’s and/or community members. Sure they are the most boring shots to take at the event from a creative standpoint, but they are vital. Do not skimp on these shots. Give them just as much effort as the rest of the event.
Plus, these “grip and grin” images can be the best way to network yourself! I usually have people hand me their card after taking one of these shots with the mayor, celebrity, keynote speaker, etc. and ask how they can get a copy. Sending them a photo has occasionally led to some very lucrative jobs… shoots I never would’ve had, if I didn’t follow up on that business card!

And finally, some clients are tired of sending out the basic posed photos, and would prefer an image with a bit more action. This is where you can get some good shots of the mayor interacting with guests, shaking hands, laughing and telling stories. Keep an eye out for photos that show your speaker engaging with other important attendees.
If you need someone to photograph your next important event, please contact me through my website at

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