- Hide menu
I’ve been a professional event photographer longer than I’ve been a professional at just about anything else. It started off as “Hey, you have a camera, take some photos at this fundraising gala.” To full fledged official event photographer status for a number of corporations and not-for-profits in Toronto and Ottawa. The Canadian Internet Registration Authority, a fantastic client based in Ottawa, brought me in to cover their Internet Forum from a new venue at the Museum of Nature (as seen above).
The Canadian Museum of Nature recently underwent extensive renovations and has a number of rooms and facilities outfitted for events and weddings. This was my first time working in this particular space and, like so many, it presented its challenges.
The room is a half-circle and surrounded by windows. Natural light that changes over the day will force a photographer to always pay attention to the exposure as it becomes dynamic (as opposed to constant in a controlled lit room). Though it was a nice change to actually be in a room with windows that bring the mood in the room up from those that are in dark and cavernous spaces.
Ottawa’s new Convention Centre boasts a lovely all-glass exterior that allows natural light to flood the building. The challenge is that almost every event is set up to present the sweeping glass vista as a feature view of Ottawa, which results in event photographers shooting directly into the sun…
…Which is cool and, while I’m posting a lot of sun-flare photos in this post, it’s not something I want to overwhelm my clients event imagery. It’s a neat-trick, but no way to document everything that happens. This particular event, photographed for GTEC, recognized public servants honoured for their distinct and important contributions to their field. While it’s best to keep the liquor out of photos for this kind of event, sometimes people can’t help but show they’re having a good time.
I was a contributing sponsor to the Greater Ottawa Home Builders Association Housing Design Awards Gala earlier this month, which also took place at the Ottawa Convention Centre. The gala took place during the evening, where the very smart event planners maxed out their lighting allowance to create a beautiful colour palate of oranges, blues and purples that made a large room, that would be tricky to photograph with camera-flash alone, clear as day.
It was also a pleasure to be in front of Roy of RND Construction and John Donkin, Architect, as they won the award for Green Custom Home of the Year (which I wrote about a few weeks ago).
You can also see the full set of GOHBA HDA Gala photos here.
Sometimes you get a call to photograph an event on relatively short notice, you show up, and it turns out you’re photographing the president of South Korea, Park Geun-hye, at the Chateau Laurier.
That’s part of the fun of living and being a photographer in Ottawa. You may have access to dignitaries and important political figures you probably wouldn’t run into on a daily basis in another city of this size.
The National Arts Centre is a visually striking venue, that’s pleasing to the eye, but what a pain to photograph in. The ceilings in many of the event rooms are high and dark – meaning a bounced flash off the ceiling is not very effective – and in some spots, a sudden flood of natural light can completely throw off the balance of the subjects in the room. It’s definitely a place to constantly be checking your exposure to make sure everything is looking good and balanced.
Not all events are created equal and this was a relatively small location with not a lot of room for me to move. The space itself did provide enough creative angles for me to play with photographs of the speakers and attendees alike. But, as is the case with so many of these events, a simple photograph of happy people holding their award is often the most precious take-away of the day.
The Canadian War Museum is full of military artifacts, housed in an incredible hangar-like facade with ceilings at oblique angles ,and spotlights that are farther away than any other venue I’ve mentioned above. It’s a photographers nightmare, but darn if it’s not a pretty location to hold a gala.
Dark and vacuous – that’s what you can expect from photos taken here. The light falls off into nothingness, so it’s important to expose the camera and flash properly for the subjects you’re focused on. The stage is lit from far enough away that the light hits the presenters faces pretty hard, but it’s almost completely black behind them (this is the inverse square law at work for those interested in photography, light, and physics). Lianne Laing of CTV was the MC for the evening, with a bevy of talent from Peter Voith (live bands will always trump pre-recorded music), to Ottawa Cocktails.
Henry Burris, QB for the Ottawa Redblacks, also made a fantastic appearance helping to auction off some season tickets in support of Habitat and, like any good gala, there was some great dancing to be had after the more formal program came to a close.
You can check out the entire Habitat for Humanity NCR “Steel Toes and Stilettos” Gala event set here.