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5 Things to do or think about when photographing an event

Updated: Jan 9, 2023

If you've ever wanted to get into the world of event photography then here's a few things that should help you get on your way to create some great photos for your clients.

Events photography is a great way to make money with your camera. You don't need a lot equipment compared to other genres, which means you can travel light. Which is a huge advantage if you're shooting in a big city like London.

Having good photos of an event is important as your clients have likely spent a lot of time and money to organise it, so having images they can share on social media etc is a must. Especially if they're looking to hold other events in the future, they can use the photos you take to promote and market their next ones.

So here's 5 things to think about or do when photographing your next event:

  1. One question to ask yourself about your photos is, "Would my viewer know what this event is about just by looking at the photos alone?" Your aim as the photographer is to tell a story through the images enough so that your viewer can have a good idea of what the event was for. Some points to have in your head next time your out on a shoot: • Have you told a story through the way you've shot the event? • What company is it for, or who is hosting it? • Are they're selling something at the event, if so, what are they selling? • Who are the main people of influence there? • Where was the venue? If it's in London, have you got some photos to at least show that it's in the city and not in the suburbs etc?

  2. Think of event photography as if you’re shooting a movie. • Start by getting the wide establishing shot. - Use a wide angle lens (like a 16-35mm f/2.8 lens) to get some nice wide photographs of the venue for context. It sets the scene, people can see where the event is taking place and the other shots you take during it will make a lot more sense when the viewer knows what the venue / location was like. • Then you can get some full length head to toe shots of the guests and participants talking and interacting with each other or the products etc. These photos will show who’s there and you'll get a bit of the venue in the background for context and detail too. A 24-70mm f2.8 lens for these photos usually works well. • After the full length shots, you can then get closer up with a 50mm prime lens all the way up to 70-200mm. Get some over the shoulder shots of the guests having conversations. Focus on the person talking, but get the shoulder of the person they’re talking too blured in the shot to make your viewer feel as if they’re there at the event. You see this technique a lot in the TV/movie industry as it shows that the person is in conversation and not just talking to no one. It adds more depth to the photograph too, helps to tell more of a story, and adds more context to what's going on. • If there's talks on a stage etc going on, then make sure you get a few good shots of each and every person that's speaking. Always think of the three types of shots you need: wide establishing shots, full length, and close up. Get some pulled back wide shots so you can see the room, how many people were there etc. Get some closer up shots full length of the speakers/presenters. Then get your close up photos with a 70-200mm lens of the speakers with head, shoulders and hands in the frame. - Look for animated hand movements during the talks, as these add a bit more interest to the photos. Another important thing to capture is people in the crowd looking interested, laughing and having a good time, writing notes, etc. Clients love these shots as they're good for marketing the next event and shows that the event was a success if people are engaged with the talks.

  3. Use Two Camera Bodies A professional photographer of any kind should have two camera bodies with them on every job anyway! - You need a backup camera incase you get to the shoot and one isn't working for some reason, or you drop one and it smashes. Clients pay a lot of money for your services, so you have to be prepared for any disaster that may arise. If you only own one camera, then make sure you rent another one identical to yours so you know how to use it, you know the layout of the buttons and settings, and your lenses fit on it. Now back to the main point... Using two cameras at an event means you can have one lens on one camera, and another lens on the other. Having two cameras with two lenses at your disposal means you'll not have to keep running back and forth to your bag and risk missing important moments! For usual walking shots, it's a good idea to have maybe a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens on one of the cameras and a 70-200mm f/2.8 lens on the other camera body. This means you cover a large range of focal lengths from wide to close, so you're prepared for any moment.

  4. Wear all Black Wearing all black at an event means you're identifiable as a photographer, it looks professional, you can blend in more and don't call attention to yourself. It's also good if you're shooting towards things that reflect like windows as black doesn't reflect all that much. Recommendations for black clothing to wear... - Black Polo Shirt: They look smart. You can shoot at a black tie event, a business or corporate networking meeting, or even a private event in someones home. It just works anywhere in any situation as a photographer. - Black Crew Neck Sweater: Good for when the weather gets colder and still looks smart with the rest of your outfit. - Black Smart Looking Jeans: They're hard wearing if you're kneeling down a lot for low angle shots. - Black Socks and Underwear: Sounds silly but just get everything to match. If you bend over or stretch up high for a shot and the top of your underwear shows a bit then it won't be noticeable really if they're black. - Black comfortable footwear (trainers/sneakers): You'll likely be standing for hours as a time, so having a good comfortable pair of shoes is essential. Bonus tip: Buy a good set of comfortable insoles too, they really help!

  5. Rules of Thirds This is a very basic point, and if you've been a photographer for any amount of time, then you should hopefully know all about the rule of thirds. - If not, then read this article here. You can't go far wrong if you keep most of your shots obeying this rule of composition. It's an easy way to make your photos look professional, and if you get lost for finding different angles then you can always fall back on framing your shots on the third lines. Sometimes there's a lot going on during an event, so having a basic rule of framing a shot to fall back on is a good tThere's definitely a lot more to say on this subject, so there may be another blog in the future to carry on from this one. - But there we have it, 5 things that have hopefully helped you if you're thinking of, or already photographing events.

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