Event photography is a special skill. It takes a lot of practice to know just when it’s the right moment to click the shutter and to decide in that split second how to best compose the shot. Of course, it works best when you have a digital SLR camera because those cameras can shoot more frames per second and don’t have a distracting delay like some point-and-shoots. But anyone can learn to get great event photos, no matter the camera you’re using. Of course, for the most important events in your life, sometimes it makes sense to hire a professional – visit my website to see some of my work and let me know if I can help document those special moments!
1. Know your Camera
This is always the first tip for every “how-to” when it comes to photography. The better you know your camera and the functions it offers, the better prepared you’ll be to take wonderful photos. During events like graduations, award ceremonies, and recitals the action happens fast – your kid is only going to be on stage for a few moments! Learn your camera BEFORE the event and hit the ground running.
2. Get in front
Sometimes being in the front and taking pictures is rude. But when it is appropriate to be in front – and when you won’t be annoying the people around you – get there. You want your kids’ faces in the photos, not the backs of their heads, especially when it comes to award ceremonies, solo performances and other events where your child is the star. Don’t wait in the background – with a standard zoom lens you’ll never get good pictures from more than 20 feet away! Be polite always, but when you can, get in front of the action and be the first one to get the shot.
3. Be one second ahead
The best event photographers are the ones who know before something important is about to happen – they always end up in the right place at the right time. This takes a lot of practice, but when we’re talking about school plays, football games or science fairs you can usually predict what is coming next. So get to where your child is going to be before they get there, so you’re ready to shoot when the perfect moment comes along.
4. Stop looking at the screen on the back of the camera
Every once in awhile during an event, I will take a few moments to look through the photos on the back of my camera. This helps me remember what I have captured – and therefore encourage me to take new and different photos next time I click the shutter! But aside from jogging your memory every now and then, looking at the back of the camera can be a tremendous waste of time. Trust me, the picture is there. So keep shooting!
5. Just keep shooting
Candid photos aren’t easy to make, but if you are patient, keep getting in the front, keep one second ahead of action, and just keep shooting, you’ll get the shots you want. If you try too hard to direct the scene, or spend too much time looking at the pictures on the back of the camera, you’ll miss it all and the shots won’t have a natural flow. You can put the time into editing the photos when you get home and look at them on the computer. Try not to edit yourself while you’re in the action. So just keep shooting.