When undertaking event photography it is important to have an understanding of how events operate. Corporate event photography is quite different from a more personal event such as an engagement party however, they all usually have a schedule to ensure proceedings are kept on track.
Being the photographer at an event is a very responsible job. You definitely need to make sure that you have the right equipment and technique before accepting the job. It is a mistake to assume that if you can photograph outside portraits, you can easily photograph any event. You need to know how to work in low-light environments, how to use external flash, as many events take place indoors with a very limited amount of ambient light.
As a professional photographer undertaking event photography it is important to be professional and blend in. You are there to cover the event not be the event.
· Scout the location If possible prior to the event or undertake some research on the location to work out the equipment you will need.
· Get a schedule of proceedings for the event from the event organizer. You need to know what is going to happen and when, and when they need you the most. Key are the important aspects of the function e.g. at a corporate event: guest arrivals, the speaker prior to commencing and in action during, overall room shots, detail shots, networking shots; at a private event such as a birthday event: guests, family shots, shots with friends, birthday cake, gift opening, catering, capturing guests having a great time.
· Do not get locked up with just taking photographs of people. Look around you and most likely you will find something interesting to photograph.
· Read the scene. Don’t interrupt in-depth discussions. People who are relaxed will notice you and be happy to pose for a photo.
· When offered drinks and food respectfully decline. You are there to do a job that you have been contracted to do. You are not a guest at the event. This is different if you are covering a long event and meals have been organised for you. You remove yourself from the room and eat elsewhere within the vicinity of the event.
· Do not take pictures of people eating food! Would you feel comfortable if someone took your picture while you were chewing on something?
(2) Photo Equipment
Equipment plays a big role in event photography. In addition to a good camera and lenses, you will most likely need other tools as well, especially when working in low-light environments but the size of the event will determine what additional equipment will be required as well as additional photographers and/or assistants.
For an event such as a single guest speaker then one photographer with external flash may be suitable whereas a high school formal will require you to set up a mini studio to capture more formal shots of the students, their partners, family and friends so additional photographers, assistants and equipment will be necessary.
2.1 Best Camera
It goes without saying that you will need a professional camera – forget about corporate event photography with a point and shoot. Although you can get away with one camera body, I would recommend two cameras, one with a wide-angle lens and another with a telephoto lens. That way you can quickly capture any action without the need to frequently change lenses. Plus, the second camera body will be your backup in case the first one fails.
In terms of type of a camera, I would recommend a low-noise full frame DSLR camera that can shoot at ISO 800 and above. Many event photographers use a full frame camera as their main camera while having a smaller and lighter backup camera for special needs, which also works great.
2.2 Best Lenses
When it comes to lenses, I suggest professional-level lenses that can work very well in low light and produce pleasant bokeh. I highly recommend having at least two lenses – one for portraits and one for wide-angle shots (for groups and extreme close-ups). I use Nikon lenses and always carry with me for event photography a Nikon 50mm, 85mm and 70-200mm and 14-24mm wide angle.
2.3 External Flash
Unless you are shooting during the day outdoors, an external flash is a must! An adjustable head enables you to bounce flash off white ceilings and walls, creating a more natural-looking light with very soft shadows. I use a Nikon SB-900 flash.
If flash photography is prohibited, you will need to talk to the event organizer about increasing the amount of ambient light in the room, or perhaps adding more continuous light (such as video light) for your photography. In that case, having a low-noise DSLR camera with a fast lens is going to be extremely useful.
2.4 Off-Camera Flash
In some cases, you might be asked to take pictures of arriving guests in one specific area. If you are shooting from one location, it might be best to set up an off-camera flash for better quality light.
While bouncing the light off the ceiling or a wall produces nice-looking images, having a separate off-camera flash setup is still undeniably the best way to obtain great-looking portraits.
2.5 Other Accessories
· Extra batteries for cameras and flash. I
· Chargers as well and recharge your batteries during breaks.
· Additional SD Cards
It all depends on the event so research before the event is pivotal in knowing what gear you will require.
3) Composition and Background
Although you are primarily photographing people, do not forget about composition and try to be a little more creative in your photographs. It gets boring if all pictures you submit to your client have people centered in the frame. Try to frame your shot differently every once in a while and position yourself so that you do not have messy backgrounds behind your subjects.
4) Group Shots
You should always plan for these kinds of shots and this is another item that you should ask from the event organizer beforehand.
Preference is to shoot groups outside, as your biggest issue is going to be putting the group together and making them all look good for your pictures.
Photographing groups indoors is a challenging task. You will need to know how many people will be in the group and you will also need to find out about the dimensions of the room, lighting conditions and whether the room has dropped ceilings or not. Bouncing the light off the dropped ceilings produces the best-looking group shots. If you have a relatively large group of people in multiple rows, you could set up two or three light stands with external flashes.
A ladder or standing on a chair is also good for group portraits as it raise peoples’ faces up towards you and no one is hidden.
In terms of lenses, this is when you need to switch to your wide-angle lens, because you need to fit the group into the frame and need the most depth of field.
I hope this has been a simple but useful blog for when you next undertake event photography.