How to Take Great Photographs at Beakerhead

Beakerhead’s lead photographer shares a few essential tips for taking high-quality photos during this city-wide arts, science and engineering event.

For Neil Zeller, June 2013 was a major career turning point. When the flood submerged most of downtown, the burgeoning photographer used his creative eye and social media savvy to capture all the trials and tribulations. Now the lead photographer for Beakerhead, Zeller first became involved when he “crashed” one of the inaugural science and tech festival’s events in 2013 and impressed the organizers with his signature style of shooting.

Working as the key photographer that year was an incredible but daunting gig. “In the first year [of Beakerhead], I shot, uploaded and captioned 50-plus events in five days,” says Zeller. “Needless to say, sleep was a foreign theme that week.”

Here are Zeller’s tips for shutterbugs attending Beakerhead.

Find that angle

  • Shoot from where others aren’t standing. Beakerhead has brilliant visuals, so it’s more a matter of finding the exceptional shot that no one else has. Use that moxie!


Be bold

  • I preach “no barriers” when shooting event photography. Don’t ask where you ‘can’ go, only where you “can’t” go. The “can’t” list is always much shorter.


Don’t fear the dark

  • Expose images using available light from the night scene. If that’s all you have, you’ll still get some really cool silhouettes.
  • Setting your camera for highlights makes it easier to ‘slow down’ your camera to capture more subtle moments.
  • When practical, use a tripod.


Talk to the talent

  • I like to arrive early to watch the rehearsal and then find a way to talk with the performers.
  • Ask questions like “Do you have any surprises I should be ready for?” This is how you get the unique shots.


Think fast

  • Use your camera’s high-ISO capability for moving objects.
  • Focus on keeping your image sharp and don’t worry about digital noise; this can be fixed during post-production.


Go to the light

  • If you can use natural or introduced light, do so by simply repositioning someone. This makes for much better portraits. You don’t want to overexpose an image to capture the scene because it may completely blow out the highlights on a person’s face.


Beakerhead takes place Sept. 16 to 20. For more information visit

More Beakerhead photos by Neil Zeller

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