Unlike studio photography where you have perfect lighting, conventions pose a whole new environment every few minutes.You could start in the convention hall where large windows allow in sunlight and the interior light is simply a fill. Inside the next door is the stage area where a mix of color gives it that new look everyone expects. This means the light is now in control of your shot and your auto white balance has no idea what setting to use.
For those who understand DSLR camera functions if the white balance is off then, the exposure is off and things go downhill fast from there. This is why you see so many stage photos that look deep orange or have a heavy pink cast to the skin.
The light used for the stage is usually very warm, around 2800K. The mix of blue and other colored light tricks the white balance of the camera into thinking it is closer to 5000K so the end result is not pretty.
Many photographers simply don’t have the knowledge to handle constant color balance adjustments or understand that the high-cost camera they purchased is made to handle this situation.
Custom White Balance
The camera manufacturer built in an option for using “Custom White Balance“. This covers any light color you could mix together. If you do a light test and lock in this special WB then any photo from that spot on stage will have the correct skin tones and clothing color.
Now the problem comes when people move around on stage. This can be handled in post processing. If you had locked the color to a known kelvin temperature it is easy to modify this number in post processing and then fine tune the color using a color wheel. This action can be applied to all stage shots taken on the left side of the stage and another action made for the right. The center was already correct with the in camera settings.
Unfortunately, many photographers don’t shoot in the format that allows this post processing to happen. They opt for faster processing and smaller image files to save time and disc space. If you take a look at jeffreytruitt.com, he provides a video showing the difference in color and how to adjust it within a few seconds during post processing. This simple adjustment means the difference between beautiful images and those you are embarrassed to publicize.
The key is to hire a professional. Not a part time beginner. Make sure they have liability insurance as well as some form of errors and omissions coverage. This means they are serious about doing business.