Lately I’ve been called upon to do some event photography. I have covered fashion shows, cocktail parties, some meet and greets, and a charity event that included zoo animals to name a few. As much as I love nature and landscape photography, event photography has started to grow on me – a lot! One event I don’t think I will ever do is weddings. Those are far far too important and daunting for me at this time. Not to mention bridezillas and their families can be scary people.
Before I cover an event I meet with the client and ask them just what it is they are looking for – products, crowd shots, these particular people, speeches, etc. That is very important to do because the last thing any photographer wants is to have a client come back and say “Where is Mr. Smith cutting the ribbon?” You get the idea here. Some companies want everyone covered while others do not want certain staff members in the photos or that part of the building. Know what the client wants before you begin to shoot and if necessary during the shoot ask them for clarification if you sense the tide may be changing.
Event photography often poses two main difficulties to a photographer (in my opinion) and those are lighting and movement. Portrait shots tend to hold somewhat still for you or you can at least get the subjects to strike that pose again – hopefully – but when covering events? No do overs! When that model comes down the walkway in that particular dress, that is it. When that guest shakes hands with the author, that is it. They usually don’t want you asking them to do it again but there are always exceptions. To assist in this issue take multiple shots of things; set your camera up to do that if necessary. Bracketing can be your friend. Then there is movement. You have to set your shutter speed at a fast enough setting in order to freeze that movement unless of course it is something like a sporting event where you may want to convey that sense of movement with a bit of blur.
But when it is someone modeling, shaking hands, tossing their head back laughing…you don’t want blurring. You want everything about your subject/s in full focus. Your options here are to shoot in shutter priority which can work very well for those not comfortable with total manual setting but that can sometimes lead to DOF issues along with ISO problems depending on the lighting you are working with. You might capture the subject perfectly but because of your other settings the picture may be too dark or full of noise. Experiment with the settings that will work best for you and the situation. And mentioning lighting, event photography, unless it is outdoors, can give one the willies when it concerns lighting. Indoor lights can often give that icky yellowish cast to a photo if the WB isn’t set properly, there may be a spotlight which can play havoc with metering, or it may be a dinner party in a place where it is very low lighting and candles. Options here are to use a white or grey card to set your WB, use an Expodisc, just shoot in RAW and worry about it later in post production, or a combo of these. Lighting is still my Achilles heel.
Remember, during event photography the photographers goal is to get the shots without being in the way or “noticed” that much. Learn to weave in and out to get the shot you want. I’ve leaned against walls, gotten down on one knee, apologized for sneaking up behind someone, and sometimes gone in a bit early to the event to get some shots before the crowds arrived. This is where what type of lens you have comes very much into play. For those head shots or closer body shots I use my 50mm lens. But for shots taken further away or for good product shots I use my 100mm. You may find a good zoom lens of your choice could be a great one and done lens for you. Again, what works for you and what you are most comfortable with and the event. Event photography can be fun and rewarding – there is a certain energy that goes with some that I enjoy – but as with any photography it has its challenges too.
Having said all of that, here are some of my favorite captures from some recent events I have covered.
Some of my photographs were also used on Rebecca Minkoffs blog page. 🙂