When it comes to attending conferences, work events, retreats, or any other sort of professional experience, I’m very focused on making sure that the event is documented by photos and video. In fact, if we’ve been together at an event, I may have bullied, er.. organized you into the best pose on a step and repeat (a publicity banner at an event), group photo, or in front of a panel. On my own website, I share some of my favorite photos under my "Paulantics” section.
My love of photo and video documentation is twofold. First of all, my father is a
photographer, so I'm probably one of the most documented people you'll ever meet; I have pictures of myself from infancy up until yesterday. What was true when film cameras were the only choice, is definitely the case now, when we can take high quality and high resolution pictures and videos on our mobile devices (#TeamAndroid).
Secondly, I am passionate about preserving life experiences utilizing the eye and lens (pun intended) of the photographer!
As someone who has done many fun things and also lost people who have been foundationally important to me, including my mother, I love the fact that I can go back and look at pictures that have been taken. They capture moments when we have experienced joy, momentous occasions, and even challenging
experiences. It’s powerful to be able to reflect on memories in that way, and that’s part of why I believe people should take photos seriously.
Here are ten rules that I’ve developed through my years of taking photos and documenting events:
1. Curate your outfit to align with your personal branding
Before you attend an event, you should strategically select what you’re going to wear to it. There are a couple of different
methods to this. I'm a big believer in personal branding, and part of that entails understanding what is authentic for you. Who are you, how do you show up/how do you want to be perceived? For example, I have a necklace that has my social media handle on it: “@Paula Edgar”. I always wear it, regardless of whether I’m at a gala, on a panel, or speaking at a conference. It’s a part of who I am and a key part of me showing up authentically.
If you know you'll be at an event where many attendees will be industry professionals, or from a specific industry, think about how they tend to show up. For example, as a member of the legal profession, (although some things have shifted) many of the events I go to have people often wearing blues, blacks, grays, and
browns. I try not to wear any of those colors unless there are bright pops of color or patterns on my outfit so I stand out.
What you wear at an event should not just be arbitrary; you should put consideration into it and it should be a well-thought out aspect of your
personal branding proposition – how you want to be perceived by others (both people at the event and people who will see your photos at a later time).
2. Consider the logo/colors of the event or organization
This could be a subset of my first rule, but I’m going to give it a standalone section. When I choose my outfit for a speaking
engagement, I think about what the event is, the logo of the organization that I am speaking for, and the colors in the logo. And yes, you might think this is a lot of thought to put into what you’re wearing to an event, but I believe that people should prioritize their personal brand. Even small considerations can make a big impact.
For example, if I'm speaking for an organization whose colors are red and blue, I might wear a red dress with a blue accent, a blue dress, or I might choose a black dress and have accessories that will amplify and use the colors of the organization. I do this because when you align in that way, two things happen. First, it looks better in the photos. Second, when you're taking pictures where the logo also
appears, you literally coordinate and the photos are complementary to the brand. Not many people I know put that much thought into it, but I do think that the outfit and accessories you choose are very important.
3. No name tags in photos
My third rule for events is that when you are taking a photo, remove your name tag.
I'm sure there are people who’ve been at events with me who know that I am really, really, really serious about this. A name tag blocks a part of your outfit, it impacts how you show up and what you look like, and it just doesn't look good in photos.
Recently, I was at a conference where I was standing at the step and repeat and helping people improve their photographs. I either helped them take the picture, or I assisted with the photo’s composition.
Every time someone would show up at the branded step and repeat, I would say again and again: “You have to take off your name tag.” One woman asked me, “Well, how are people gonna know where we were?” And I told her, “Turn around, you're standing in front of a step and repeat. You don’t need the name tag to do that.” The step and repeat displayed the organization's name, logo, and
specific details about the event.
Even if your picture isn’t in front of a step and repeat or logo, you can use your social media/photo captions to tag organizations and use event hashtags to make it clear where you were without impacting the look of your
If you're moving quickly or folks are resistant, then go ahead and take the picture with the name tag, but I know that photos look better without them!
Want to help your employees understand how to take photos that help them amplify your organization and leverage their personal branding? Connect with me or respond to this email to find out more about how I can help by facilitating a workshop or speaking at your organization.
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