3D to 2D: Photographing TED Speakers

TED talks have been around for 25 years. Even though people associate them with our current technological life, these conferences have been a part of our lives for the better part of the last three decades. During this time, thousands of speakers from all walks of life have shared their ideas with millions of people all over the world. In this video, Duncan Davidson shares his view on how to perfectly capture TED speakers during their time on the stage:

For this talk, Davidson goes to the other side of the stage than he is normally used to and talks about how he captures the perfect moment in a TED speaker’s presentation. He explains how the first thing they want to do is to capture a still image of the subject, yet try to convey the motion through that image to show that they are giving a presentation. If the speaker has some props on the stage, it’s very important, Davidson explains, to include them in the shot so that viewers get the idea behind the presentation at a glance. Over the years, this type of shot has been perfected and is now associated with TED.

Apart from capturing the right moment, another key element is to capture all the right elements on the stage; the stage lights are a perfect example:

ted talk speaker photo

A moment in time. Duncan captures a moment from a TED performance.

“What any photographer is trying to do is take what’s happening in front of them, translate it into a frame that they can then hand to somebody else that wasn’t there, and they get a story out of there.”

I think this quote by Duncan, when viewed with the photo above, perfectly describes what he tries to do when taking shots on the TED stage.

moment in time ted talk

Another moment in time, perfectly frozen in this image.

In the rest of the video you can see some of Davidson’s other work—fantastic travel shots taken from his travels all over the world. The tactics he uses to capture TED speakers can easily be applied to any scenario, even when walking down the street in a random city thousands of kilometers away from your home.

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