Maria Russinovich April 26, 2022 at 2:00 PM 15 min read

Photo-Ruining Event Rental Blunders With Ana Isabel Photography

While attending events is always a great time, seeing the photos afterward is almost as fun as the event itself! Photographers have the important task of capturing the moment and energy of events, but sometimes rental blunders can ruin magical moments. Goodshuffle Pro spoke with events photographer Ana Isabel, who has photographed weddings, political campaigns, and corporate events. We wanted to pick her brain on what event rental blunders can ruin photos, and how these can easily be fixed!

What is your experience in the events industry? 

I started out as a photographer in high school, and that kind of snowballed into college where I did photography for the school newspaper. I went into a full-time career in communications after college, but I still worked at events on the weekends, and soon realized I liked that far more than my 9-5. I went into full-time photography and fell in love with how every time it was a different event, I liked being able to get a front-row seat at some of these really neat events. Sometimes they were people’s big life moments or they were companies’ big milestones. I really enjoyed it and I’ve been doing it ever since 2009! 

When you're at an event, what is the best way to avoid rental blunders? 

Usually, at the beginning of the meetings, we start talking about whether or not it’s an outdoor or indoor event, which usually gives me a sense of if we need a tent, if there’s going to be different lighting, or using the space at hand. It’s important to know where the event will be and what the typical things that take place in that space are. Planners will also usually send out floor plans, which is another great opportunity to take a look at everything and see how the event is laid out. Using this information it’s a great way to think about what types of photos the client would want, whether they’re speakers, speeches, toasts, or dances. These early stages of planning are a good time to speak up and say something about all the differentials that come along to make an event.

Pro tip: All vendors, planners, and photographers should communicate beforehand to avoid blunders as soon as possible.

What are some examples of rental blunders that you have experienced and would like others to take note of?

Uplighting at Events

Image by Ana Isabel | Planner: SG3 Events | Lighting: Atmo Lighting | Tent: Sugar Plum Tents 

The first one is always lighting, it’s what makes the event shine! Uplighting is key. I have been in events where there was no uplighting, but when there is uplighting it truly makes a big difference. It makes your event more elevated and allows you to put color into the theme of your event. Say you are hosting an event for the holidays— you can have red and green lights. Or, if it’s a nice “Summer-y” theme, you can add blues. Colored uplighting completely changes the tone of the photographs. Uplighting makes it so there will still be that nice hue of color wherever you are at the event. 

Pro tip: Make sure your event has uplighting. Your photographer (and memories) will thank you!

Almost every event has seating for guests— what is the best type of seating for you to take great photos?

Seating at events

Image by Ana Isabel | Venue: Wardman Park Marriott

There’s a lot that goes into seating! For conferences, the more mixed seating, the better. The easiest way to do this is to have the center aisle, and then seats on the side. I’ve also seen a lot of recent conferences where they’ll have rows of forward-facing seats and then tables where people can take notes. These are great because people can still work, but have a different setup to do that instead of a simple seat. Mixed seating is exciting because it allows me to take more interesting photographs of everyone facing one way. 

Something that’s also key in both conferences and in weddings is having side aisles. A lot of the time photographers will go down the center aisle to photograph a speaker or whoever is at the front of a room, but we can only get that one angle unless we are allowed to go on each side of the room. Being able to go to the sides of a room and get a different angle of what’s happening is great to offer variety in the types of photographs we can take! 

Pro tip: Having varying seating and tabling options allows for people to interact with an event however they want.

If you were to have “the perfect event’ as a photographer, what would your ideal options be with regards to tabling and seating?

Mixed options are huge! Especially for big conferences, give me options. It could be people facing forwards, facing each other, tables, couches… the more options, the more variety of photographs I can get. For weddings, it’s the same, actually. I’ve seen settings where there are different types of seating for the ceremony or reception, it opens up a lot of opportunities for great photos. Couch areas, high-top tables, short tables, long tables, circular tables, all make it so that your event is unique and the energy of the wedding can be captured.

Pro tip: The more mixed tabling and seating options, the better your event’s energy will be captured.

Tenting has hit its stride in the events industry lately. What are easy rental blunder fixes for tent renters to focus on?

There are a few things that can be fixed early on to avoid blunders! A lot of times I’ll see things hanging off of tents in the background, like excess strips or strings, and I know a lot of times these are things that must go up as a part of tent security, but sometimes these can be hidden away or covered. 

For example, if you’re folding up a tent or rolling the edges at the bottom, making sure that this is done neatly is imperative because it can easily distract from the focus of a photo. Another example is if you have to open and close the tent due to weather, having an attendant there to open and close the tent will help avoid loose door flaps, or if the door can be zipped open and closed, having someone there to do that will make sure that the tent is always looking its best for photographs.

Making sure that tenters or the attendant know what to do and what I need as a photographer comes from those very first conversations with the event planner, and they are a great resource for communicating with the other vendors and people involved in the event setup. 

Pro tip: Make sure that tents look as beautiful and put together as the rest of an event! Loose ends can steal the spotlight.

What can be done to make sure that florals are beautiful from every angle? 

Florals at events

Image by Ana Isabel | Planner: SG3 Events | Tent: Sugar Plum Tents | Florals, Decor, Rentals:Pretty Little Wedding Co

Florals and decorations are definitely a staple at any great event, and there are some things that can make these decorations great for photographing. Pinspot lighting is one way to perfect florals, especially if you’re going to have a lot of uplighting. This makes it so that each floral piece is nicely and brightly lit and can stand out from the background of photos. Another important thing to note is making sure that florals are able to be photographed from all angles, and what I mean by that is making sure that florals aren’t just beautiful from the front or one angle, but that the bouquet looks the same all around. 

If I’m taking photos from the side aisles or back of an event, I want to be able to still show how beautiful the flowers are. There have been times where there are beautiful, huge centerpieces but the backside is not as well-done or put together as the front, and this greatly limits the types of photos that can be taken of the flowers. 

For decorations or foliage that isn’t in an arrangement, like draping vines, making sure that whatever is holding the plants, like a pot or trestle, is covered up. Being able to see the container is distracting in the same way that being able to see ropes from a tent is distracting, and covering these is an easy fix, whether it’s covered by the plant itself or another means. 

Pro tip: Make sure your foliage is lit properly to make it stand out from all other lights. Try pinspot lighting!

Everyone wants their event to be perfect, and nothing is better than being able to remember a perfect event with beautiful photography. If communication is clear and open amongst all vendors and renters, the photographs captured will reflect the energy and memories made at a great event. No rental blunders here, just photos that are worth a thousand words.

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Maria Russinovich

Maria Russinovich is a recent graduate of American University and is a Campaign Marketing intern at Goodshuffle Pro, a software company dedicated to empowering events industry professionals.