Event photography can be great fun but capturing the perfect shot isn’t always easy. With the fast-paced, ever-changing scene, knowing when you capture your next frame or where the next award-winning shot is going to come from is difficult.
In today’s article, we look at some essential event photography tips so you can capture jaw-dropping shots in no time. Whether you’re a complete beginner in the event photography scene or a more seasoned photographer, these tips and tricks are sure to help you up your game.
Must-Know Event Photography Tips:
Capture Human Emotions
The first tip is to focus on capturing emotions. An expression speaks a thousand words. And that, in essence, sums up what event photography is all about. It is all about capturing emotions throughout the event.
Note that we don’t mean you should go and simply seek intense emotions. Any candid shot can portray emotion very effectively when timed and framed just-right. While this isn’t the easiest of techniques, it is definitely one that will produce rewarding results. With patience, a well-trained eye (keep practicing, you’ll get there!), and good timing, you can get some really emotive event photography shots.
Seize the Moment
The most important tip you can get is to “seize the moment”. As an event photographer that is what you should be looking to do. When it comes to getting top-quality event photography, the best moments are never posed. Once they are gone, they are gone for good. You are either ready to capture them or not.
For the most memorable shots, you really need to be prepared to capture the expressions, atmosphere, and mood as soon as it crops up. If you’re a second too late, you could’ve missed the shot. So to put it simply, you have to be prepared for your next shot at any second. While there are some predictable moments, you need to be aware of any instance when there could be a good shot in the making.
As an event photographer your clients are paying you a lot of money to capture traditional images along with the not-so traditional, candid images. It becomes your responsibility to deliver images that capture the moments of the event in a beautiful way. If you are marketing yourself as a candid photographer then it becomes even more important.
If you’re new to photographing events, please keep in mind that it should be enjoyable for you. While capturing the moment is a great event photography tip and will seriously improve your images. If it is hindering your enjoyment or increasing stress to focus on every moment, take a step back and shoot when you feel is a good time, over time you will develop an eye for knowing when jaw-dropping shots are about to occur.
In any event, posed photos assume some amount of importance because they are usually done for record purposes.
For example, the delegates attending a corporate meeting, or the players from the opposing sides pose for a group shot before the match, or the bridesmaids and the groomsmen pose with the couple. The list goes on.
Obviously, the approach to setting up a group shot will vary according to the event. You cannot hope to simply line everyone up and make a group shot at every event. It does not work that way. At least not always. You need to mix things up and use your creativity at times.
There may not be any posing involved for formal corporate group shots. But posing is a requirement for wedding group shots. That is if you are to make things look interesting in the photo.
Try and complete the posed photos before the main event begins. Once the main event begins you should concentrate fully on getting those candid moments. They will provide you the best pictures from the event.
Fill the Frame
This is one of the most oft-repeated pieces of advice in the photography world. As a matter of fact, this is one of the basic rules of photography. But just as in the case of every other rule, you must also know how to break it in order to create exceptional images.
But today we are not going to talk about breaking the rules of photography. We are going to talk about the process of filling the frame and, in doing, so creating beautiful images.
Human emotions are often best captured when you are able to move in close and fill the frame. This is best achieved using a telephoto lens. With wide-angle lenses, this is simply not possible. If you have to pick only two lenses for an event then we recommend the 24-70mm f/2.8 and the 70-200mm f/2.8 lenses.
When it comes to event photography, there are three main gear components, your camera, your lens, and any kind of accessories you may need. For some event photography, only a camera and lens are needed.
These next tips should help you select the best gear for event photography:
Cameras are the second most important aspect of photography gear. Second only to the lens.
For event photography you need a camera with a good low light performance. In an ideal world you need an ISO invariant camera. That way you can shoot your raw files at a lower ISO and then bump the exposure later in post.
The advantage of this is you can use a faster shutter speed, which non-ISO invariant cameras won’t allow you to use.
Some good event photography cameras are the Canon 5D Mark IV, the Nikon D850 in the semi-professional segment. In the professional segment there are the Nikon D6 and the canon 1DX Mark III.
A lot of people reading this may not be professional event photographers (nor aspire to be one). For casual event photographer, it is not necessary to go for high-end camera/gear.
Cameras like the Nikon D780 or the Nikon D7500 or the Canon EOS 90D are ideal for such photographers.
If you are a pro-shooter, having two cameras is vital to never missing a moment with your camera. With a different lens fixed to each camera, you can easily and quickly switch between the two when you need a tighter shot or a wider shot.
Ideally, you should have a wide zoom lens for capturing aspects like the ambience, interior and general feel of the event. Then you’ll also want a tele-zoom lens like a 70-200mm f/2.8 that would allow you to zoom in tight and capture those expressions that make a great photo.
Your choice of lens will depend on the kind of event that you want to shoot. A wide zoom lens is probably one piece of optics you cannot go wrong with at any event. Whether it is to shoot the ambient atmosphere at an event, or to capture a group of delegates meeting, or to do a wedding photo-op, a wide zoom lens is a must have.
Some event photographers prefer to use a 24-70mm. Which is the go-to lens for most weddings and other events. To pair with that lens they use a second body with a 70-200mm lens.
You can go for either the f/2.8 or the f/4 versions, depending on the kind of ambient light at the event. If budget is a concern, the f/2.8 lens will cost a lot more than the f/4 lens. Most OEM and third party manufacturers make at least one 24-70mm lens. This is one of the most popular focal length lenses.
Though accessories sounds a bit comprehensive, we are only concerned with two items – lighting and a support system. And even though a support system sounds a bit expansive what we really mean are monopods and, in some situations, tripods.
Whether you are a wedding photographer or covering a corporate event, there is no room for big clunky, unwieldy tripods. It is simply not practical in these situations. If you have to use a support system then a monopod makes more sense. Though ideally, at a majority of events you should expect to shoot hand-held.
The other accessory that we recommend using is external lights. Mainly external flashes. These are not required at every event though. But they do come in handy in certain cases. A speedlight is a great investment if you are shooting in poorly lit areas with little additional lighting support. Examples of this includes venues for weddings and receptions as well as larger corporate events.
Setting Up for a Shoot
When setting up for an event, finding your source of ambient light is an important task. Not all events are held as open-air events and that is why it becomes so crucial that you know where your source of light is coming from in order to stay a step ahead.
As a wedding photographer it will serve you well to scout for large windows for making those getting ready shots and/or the portraits of the bride and the groom before they step out of their dressing rooms.
If it is a closed door event, like a church wedding, you will need to use external flashes. Find out how feasible it is to set up external flashes and how many can you set up without over-imposing on the special event.
Sometimes though, your hands are pretty much tied, and you have to make the most of what is available.
If you are aware of these parameters before shooting at the event, you will be much better prepared.
Push Up the ISO
Don’t be afraid to push up the ISO in certain situations. Especially when there is not enough ambient light to go around and you’re unable to use external flash.
Related Post: Best Noise Reduction Software
These days DSLRs and mirrorless cameras have become so powerful and they are capable of shooting at such extreme ISOs that no one thinks twice when dialing up the ISO number. And really there is no reason why you cannot shoot at ISO 1600 with a good sensor. The advantages are numerous. You do not lose the dynamic range and you can shoot at a higher shutter speed. That reduces the chances of getting image blur.
With advancements in photo editing software it is possible to eliminate whatever noise there is in your images like magic.
The actual process flow for editing will vary from person to person. When shooting an event, you really don’t have the time to review your images. It is only when you are back home or in your studio can you go through the images on a large screen and decide which are the ones to keep and which ones should be thrown away.
Usually Lightroom comes into the picture right when you download the images to your computer. A simple process that can be followed is this:
After downloading the images open them up in full size and, review them for focus and composition and then decide whether to cull them or push them through the process of editing.
If you do not want to cull them right away at least labelling them with one, two, or more stars will allow you to sort the images based on their overall usability. Images with five stars should be the best and automatically go through the editing process.
Based on the final selection you can move on to the next steps where you correct white balance, remove chromatic aberrations, do any cropping and exposure adjustment as required.
The most important thing is to remember to enjoy the moment. Event photography is stressful, especially, if you are shooting as a professional event photographer. But you have to know how to not get bogged down by that stress. Stress is never great for delivering great work. Stay relaxed, enjoy the moment, bust most importantly do your homework well. Hopefully the tips discussed above will help you along the way.
If you have some great tips of your own you would like to share with us, go ahead and let us know in the comment box below. We would love to hear from you!
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