Photographing events is not as simple as it looks since you have to know in advance what you want to photograph, stay aware of what’s going on around you, and work around obstacles in order to get good shots. Great photographers, manage to take eye capturing photographs without disturbing the guests and seem invisible. However, getting good event pictures first time round is possible if you come prepared. So check out 10 tips for better event photos and don’t repeat common beginners mistakes.
Over the last 2 years, I was lucky to photograph lots of wedding and gardening shows.Today would like to share my experience on how to capture events professionally.
Besides learning to charge batteries before the events, I learnt many valuable lessons. Here are my top 10 tips to taking better event photos:
5 General photography tips
1. Your photography style and gear will depend on the type of event you are capturing
Event photography is a very broad term. It could mean sports photography, party photography, exhibition photography or even wedding photography. All of those events are different and require special approaches and gear.
Sports will be all about speed and image stabilisation.
Gear wise you will need the fastest (widest maximum aperture) and longest lens. Such lens will allow you to get in close and keep high action-freezing shutter speed. Image stabilisation would also come handy.
Party photography would require advance preparation as a lot depends on the type of environment that you will be shooting and good social skills.
Gear will depend on the type of lighting. If photographing in a nightclub think flash and a good 50mm lens as you mainly will be photographing portraits.
Exhibition photography is all about capturing stands and products beautifully and making the event look fun in the photographs while battling the crowd.
Gear wise you will need a tripod and a good selection of lenses as you will be trying to capture the event from different angles.
Wedding photography is probably the hardest one as so much goes into event organisation and there is no second chance. This is not a good type of event to get practice if you are the only photographer at the event, but it is ok to practice if you a guest and a couple already has a professional photographer. An extra camera is always good at weddings as there is so much going on.
Good photography skills here are more important than gear. So if you are a guest and want to take a couple nice shots at a wedding then read on a bit on basic photography composition first and only then think about buying a better camera ( which you most likely won’t need for awhile).
2. Know what you are going to shoot before shooting it.
Most of event photography is preparation. Before you even head out to the event, visualise what photographs you want to take. This may seem challenging, but if you only get a few seconds to capture the moment you have to make your pictures count.
I suggest writing down a list of photographs you want to take (something like a nice overview of the stand, a close up of the product, a model at the catwalk etc). It could also help to sketch out the important shots that you want to take. For inspiration use Pinterest, but limit yourself to a certain amount of time or a day will pass and nothing will be done.
3. Attitude – relationships are the key to great event photography.
In the past person with a camera was most likely a professional photographer, but this no longer holds true. Today everyone has a camera and this presents challenges to event organisers as they no longer can accommodate the needs of all photographers. So how should you behave at the event in order to get great pictures and get invited to the another event?
Firstly, talk to organisers as it can give you an access to behind the scenes and special photography previews. It is also a good idea to make sure that people being photographed do not mind it. As a photographer/blogger I have been in many situations where people exhibiting did not want their products photographed. This is counter-intuitive, but it is better to grant those wishes then get into disputes.
Make sure that you fulfil your promises. Be specific and make sure that you are on the same page with organisers. So if you a blogger make sure that you blog about event if such thing was promised. If you said that you will send them pictures do so. Snapped nice picture at the event as a guest then share on social media don’t keep it yourself. This increases you chances of being contacted next time.
4. Know your gear!
When you know what kind of photographs you want to take and what event organisers, clients, readers want it is time to select right gear.
When shooting with a DSLR the choice of lenses can be overwhelming, but there is a limit to how many you can carry to any event. For exhibition photography, you want to cover all your bases with a wide, prime, and telephoto lens. If you lucky to have these options then use them.
If you are limited to a standard 18-55mm kit lens, you’ve got your wide and mid-ranges covered, but zoom will be missing. Which I find quite important for exhibition photography, so would recommend to bring along your point and shoot for zoom shots.
Think about lighting at the event as you don’t want pictures that are too dark or blurry. If shooting inside think about taking a tripod you may have to shoot with low shutter speed which does not allow to hand-hold your camera. Lens with low f-stop (f1.8 or lower) will also be handy.
5. Check your photographs before leaving.
Make sure that you checked your photographs on the big screen before packing up and living thinking that you took great photos. The picture could look great on built in screen, but appear to be out of focus when enlarged.
If your camera does not have built-in wifi get a wifi memory card and preview all photos on an iPad/any other tablet. This will illuminate situation where pictures do not turn out well.
5 Blogger specific tips
6. Dress like you belong there but don’t overdress.
When photographing an event you should dress like you belong there and blend in with the crowd. But don’t overdress, high heels will make you tired and ball gown will restrain your posture, so find a middle ground between dress up and casual wear for special events.
7. You need a story
In most cases, you will need a story, so don’t shy away from taking a couple of pictures with people in it. Behind the sense can also be great for presenting a story.
8. Edit your event photos and deliver quickly
Take advantage of editing as it will make you pictures stand out. But don’t take forever as a blog post about an event a month later in too late.
I find it hard not to overshoot an event, and so have to trash over 70 % of what I take. This is mainly because some photographs illustrate the same thing and you don’t want to overwhelm the reader with repetition.
Once you selected best pictures edit them. ALOT. (I am a Photoshop gal, but there are other great editing programs out there). The best thing about events is that for the most part, all photographs should be similarly styled and so there is a potential for some automation. Like applying the same custom made action to all photographs.
9.Take pre-event pictures
There is nothing as good as the pre_event picture, but it could be hard to get it when you are not a shortlisted blogger. So be proactive, arrive early, and build relationships.
When you ask for something, you will most likely get it, so just go for it.
10. Sometimes it is about being in the right place at right time.
Don’t forget that luck still plays a part, so don’t bit yourself hard for missing some dramatic moment. Next time you will be lucky and turn out to be close to the action.
All Photographs were taken at the Quintessentially Weddings Spring Atelier 2016