Texas Event Photography
Event Photography can be very lucrative for you as long as you keep getting gigs. But to keep getting those gigs, you need to improve your photography skills. Photographing events isn’t really all that easy as it requires you to constantly be aware of what’s going on around you, meter effectively, and get good shots. Ideally, you want to do this without disturbing the guests and people. Essentially it combines elements of photojournalism and street photography. You need to move amongst the crowd without being noticed very much and you also need to document what’s going on while not interfering.
What is Event Photography?
There are things to look for when doing event photography. What I stick to is the elements of photojournalism: the newsworthy, the unusual, the emotional and the intimate. In between all that there are loads of filler images. Shooting each event is like telling a story. In fact you need to tell a story. You need to get:
– Cover Shots (the image that sums up the entire story and makes people want to view it.) – Establishing Shots (Where are we?) – Detail Shots (Perhaps glow sticks, alcoholic beverages, parts of a costume if the event is themed, etc.) – Closing shots (A final ending shot that tells us good bye in some way.) – Filler – Event Photography relies heavily on this!
It’s the art of capturing a story. To get into event photography is to get into storytelling. There are other things to keep in mind as well. For example, why are we having this event? What’s so special about it? Is there someone in particular I should be trying to photograph? Who amongst the crowd is the most photogenic and loves the camera? How can I get around making that person not look into the camera when I shoot? These are just some of the things you should consider.
In between all this, there is a lot of portraiture tied into it. You are shooting people afterall. My particular style is usually to try not to interrupt or disturb anyone, but a big DSLR with large lens attached doesn’t always accomplish that. Further, there is a strong presence to my personality. Because of this, I tend to stick to the telephoto approach but I will get in very close with primes as well.
Techniques for Event Photography
There are lots of techniques that you can incorporate to suit your shooting style when photographing events. Some of them are by use of your camera, some of them are by the way you function as a photographer, etc. Either way, keep in mind that you and your camera are working together to get this job done.
A good thing to do is usually going around from area to area to capture emotions on people’s face. For example, maybe there is a beautiful girl that is chuckling at a joke with her girlfriends. The person paying you to shoot the event would love to see photos like that because they’re candid. And candids make for excellent photographs as opposed to constantly gathering everyone together and posing them.
Other things may be happening as well. Let’s say you’re shooting a birthday party for example: there are bound to be people all over the venue, house, bar etc. You should be moving around and reading your subject’s body language to see who can provide for great fodder for your camera. Maybe a game of beer pong is going on: at things like this, players tend to show off emotions of excitement.
Or perhaps there are people dancing on a dance floor and they’ve got glow sticks. Some yummy long exposures can be made from this.
Additionally, keep in mind that there are always the people that love to pose for the camera and will be crazy and zany things as soon as they see you. In this case, interact with your subjects make it all really fun. It will translate over in the photos.
People are also always playing with the dog, cat or other pets. Maybe the animals can do something worth capturing?
Whatever you do though, be sure to get up close and personal in terms of composition. Your viewers want to feel like they’re right there in the photos. If your client is going to put them on Facebook or another photo sharing site, the photos will really elicit lots of great comments and smiles from people.
As far as technicalities go they have to do with auto-focusing, manually focusing, shooting in manual or shooting in aperture as well as dealing with your ISO settings. Parties usually have terrible lighting. One might think the lighting is ideal for shooting but it really usually isn’t. If shooting in Aperture will help you get your photos faster vs taking the time to change your settings in manual, figure out what you value more. Do you want to get the photo now (aperture) or do you want to possibly spend less time in Photoshop or Lightroom fixing them (manual.) It’s up to you and how impatient and slow moving your subjects are.
Similarly, your auto-focus can be terrible as opposed to your manual focusing. As a general rule of thumb, spot focusing is best. This is where you select a specific point on your auto-focus points to get the results you are aiming for. If that doesn’t always work or if you find that too time consuming, you may be best off manually focusing your lens. In this case, try to ensure that you get sharp images all the time.
Spot focusing becomes even more critical in low light photography where your auto-focus isn’t always as reliable as you’d like it to be. If there is party lighting, it can even ruin your focusing more. For reference, party lighting is like what you would find at a local venue for an underground show: lots of different color lighting being flashed over and over again. This also messes with your cameras white balance settings and you will have to change them in post production.
For this reason, shoot in RAW. ALWAYS SHOOT IN RAW.
What could help though is using a flash, if the client doesn’t mind you using it. Try to get one with a tiltable head like a Canon 430 EX II. Also, I’d recommend using the Gary Fong Lightsphere as it tends to soften the already harsh flash.
For best results, turn down your flash’s output using your DSLR.
As a blind photographer, I tend to have trouble with this. Even when using the big, bright viewfinder of my Canon 5D Mk II it can be problematic. In this case, an electronic viewfinder like those on some Micro Four Thirds cameras can suit the photographer well.
Staying Focused with Event Photography
Part of being a professional is being polite, efficient and focused. This can mean anything from trying to get your images right in one or two shots to making sure that the Terrier jumping on you doesn’t mess up your shot to monitoring your technical parameters to stay efficient.
It’s very easy to get caught up in the party and not want to work. That isn’t to say not to talk to people. There are always going to be people that will want to see your images and talk to you about it all. The client will most likely want to do this.
In my experience, that’s never hurt me too much. It has helped for me to build relations with people and get more gigs as well as have more people view my blog. It’s especially useful for when you’re near the end of the gig and things are starting to slow down. These are when you are more likely to get repeat images, things that look the same or are from the same viewpoint over and over again.
If you’re shooting something high profile like a wedding though, stay focused on basically nothing else but taking images.
Follow these techniques and pointers and you should end up with great work to show off to future clients.