Event photography is basically capturing photos of events such as birthdays, weddings, parties, sports and concerts. However, most often it refers to corporate events including conferences, galas, anniversaries and more. It may seem to be cut and dried, and even boring at first sight. But, it is challenging to capture good photos. It takes some strategy and practice to acquire the skill.
While it is not rocket science, event photography takes some preparation. Corporate events and even celebrations can appear dull in photos. To make a story of suits mingling around, you need to get creative. Also, you have to be alert to capture the opportunity when it arises. That way you will be able to tell a compelling story.
There are countless ways, settings, and techniques to capture the perfect image or to ruin it. But, there is a rule that always applies, no matter what kind of photo you are up to. You want to engage the viewers and tell them a story. So, let’s start with the basics.
Usually, indoor events happen in low light conditions. So, for indoor events, it is best to use a low light camera. On the other hand for the outdoor events, fast cameras will do the best job. Since most of the events happen indoor I’ll focus on indoor gear. Full frame DSLR with interchangeable lenses will fit the bill. A wide angle and telephoto lens will cover all of your needs.
As for lighting, you will probably need flash for posed shots. Avoid in-camera flash. It can be too harsh. Also, firing the flash at the same angle with your lens will flatten the shadows. An external flash unit with diffuser will provide better lighting and you can position it as you prefer. You can bounce it off the white ceiling or walls to get softer light and natural look.
And last but not least, always pack extra batteries and cards when doing event photography.
While you may incline to artsy or documentary style, it is more important what your host expects of you. Open dialogue is necessary to avoid potential misunderstanding. You will have to ask who and what must end up in photos. What style does the host prefer, and is there something or someone to avoid? This will allow you to prepare and set up the priorities.
“Looking into the camera creates a special eye and soul contact.” – Chiara Ferragni
Take Pre-event Shots
With the event photography if you arrive on time – you are late! You should arrive early for many reasons. Taking pre-event shots can add up to the story. The venue, table settings, food arrangements can make interesting bonus images. Also, this will allow you to find the best settings for the event. You can test the light conditions and create compositions in advance. As the guests come, you can use this opportunity to interact with them and build a relationship. So, coming 20 minutes earlier can make your job a lot easier.
Event photos can be repetitive if not boring. To avoid this shoot from interesting angles. Don’t be afraid to be creative even with posed shots. Your shots should stand out and you have to show some courage to achieve that. As long as you do this in an unobtrusive manner, you might lighten up the mood overall. If you manage to do so, you will improve your chances to capture some great candid shots.
“Photography was a way for me to freeze time and to capture the moments that were happy and healthy. I saw a photo as a way to go back to a memory if I ever needed to.” – Rachel Morrison
As for candid shots, you should have your camera set up in advance. So, you’ll be ready to capture the moment when it happens. Look for details, action, gesture, conversation. And I don’t mean capturing someone gobbling up the food, or scratching the backside! Your photo should indicate that there’s a story behind it. Capturing the scene, emotions, that is what you’re after.
Besides all this, you will need to be calm and polite. Try not to interrupt the attendees. In other words, you should be everywhere, but not in anybody’s way!
Settings depend on specifics of the event and light conditions. Generally, you will have to higher your ISO in low light conditions. Higher ISO will allow you to use faster shutter speed to keep the images sharp. A wide aperture will allow more light to enter. It will give a bit of artistic touch, as well. Shoot in RAW image format. This will allow you to fix possible noise and over or underexposed images. Correcting the JPEG format in low light conditions is hard if possible at all.
Shooting events can be challenging, but it can be fun as well. You need to take care of many details, while you can’t influence your subjects. Well, not as much as you would like to anyway. Also, you have to be on the lookout in order to capture the best moments. I know, it is a lot of work.
But, don’t worry. Practice makes perfect and over time you will gain an ability to do most of these things automatically. So grab your camera and go for it!