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PechaKucha is an awesome global speaking event using a unique format where people share their ideas, works, thoughts, passions – just about anything really…. And they have only space for 20 slides and can speak about each slide for just 20 seconds. A very unique platform.

I am the official photographer for PechaKucha in Cape Town. This is one of my “giving back” shoots and I get to sit in and listen to some amazing people sharing their story.

The photography side is a little challenging as the usual venue is completely black – black floors, black walls, black ceiling. I don’t think there are even windows! Looking back at my previous post about bouncing the flash you’ll understand that black does not work very well when trying to bounce any light while trying to capture images.

The format of the night starts off getting images of each speaker beforehand. Here I use my off camera flash mounted with an umbrella to soften the light. I also seek out a little piece of coloured wall or wooden door to lighten up the background.IMG_0326

After the profile photos I set up two off camera speedlights using PocketWizard wirelsss triggers. These are angled at the speakers on the stage in such a way as to minimise any shadows cast by the bare flashes – there simply isn’t any room to use any umbrellas in the jam packed room. Also once I’m set up I’m pretty much hemmed in to my spot – no getting up and resetting or changing settings. I am thankful here though to my assistant, Darren, who manages one of the lights.


During the break the brief is to capture the audience networking and checking in with the speakers. Here Darren walks around next to me and hand holds the flash – he acts as my off camera flash handler. Then it’s back to capturing the rest of the speakers on stage.


PechaKucha means chit chat in Japanese….

“Stephen’s photography at PechaKucha Cape Town is outstanding.
It is a challenging situation with the hustle and bustle of people, low light and a dark environment.
However, for every event, he manages to pull off a series of winning photographs.
Dave Cotton – PechaKucha Cape Town License Holder

The next PechaKucha event in Cape Town is at City Hall on Tuesday August 18th. See you there.