Event photography is an acquired skill. It takes a lot of practice to know just when it’s the right moment to click the shutter and, in that split second, decide how to best compose and light the shot. I love working with new, aspiring photographers, who want to learn the art of photographing events and weddings, and love sharing my expertise. If you want to get better at event photography, keep these five tips in mind as you practice document events.
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 – the award winner may 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 clients faces in the photos, not the backs of their heads. Don’t lurk in the background and around the sides of the event – with a standard zoom lens you’ll likely not get good pictures from more than 20 feet away! Photographers like to be unnoticed, but great event photography requires being in front of the action.
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 after you’ve photographed a few dozen fundraising events, graduations, and conferences you can usually predict what is coming next. I am always scanning the room to see where the action is happening, where the best interactions are occurring, and what exciting event may be in the works. Then, when the photo-worthy moment comes, I’m in the right place at the right time.
4. Stop looking at the screen on the back of the camera
Every once in awhile during an event, I’ll pause and find a quiet spot to look through the photos on the back of my camera. This helps me recall what I have captured, and consider what types of shots I want to seek out. But aside from those few minutes here and there, my eyes are up and on the event always. Looking down, you could miss something! Stop looking at the back of your camera, and 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 key moments and interactions that the clients love. And don’t get discouraged if you do miss something, or you messed up the light, or that last shot was blurry. Just keep shooting and you’ll get better with every click.