The Beginner’s Guide to Shooting Events so you Get Hired Again and Again!

Some might regard photographing events as not necessarily the most interesting things to do when it comes to photography, mainly due to the lack of creativity you can exert on a job, given that you're being paid for a specific task only.

Events could be anything from outdoor to indoor or from small events in a room, to big events in a huge hall or outdoors. Whatever the type, size or location of event, as a photographer it is your responsibility to create some great images.

Event photography can be a great place to get trained as a good photographer.

event photography for beginners

Image by Mari Smith

Event Photography for Beginners – Our top Tips

Bring the Right Gear!

If you know what the venue is going to be like, the size, the lighting available and the type of event beforehand, it will be helpful for you to carry the right gear along and do a worry-free photo shoot.

Indoor venues are rarely well-lit and so are evening outdoor venues. So have these in mind when packing your gear and preparing yourself.

It is best to have a lens with a fast aperture, preferably f/2.8 or even faster. Most photographers go for the 24-70mm f/2.8 and the 70-200mm f/2.8 “combo” as these lenses are fast in focusing, have good low light performance and produce sharp images.

But, if your venue is a small hall, you may not need a zoom lens, but can go for prime lenses like the 50mm f/1.8 or f/1.4 or the 85mm f/1.8 or f/1.4 – benefitting from large apertures for indoor photography.

If you want to shoot indoors in the available light, you will need a camera that performs well at high ISO and low light.

You may also need to use a flash in low light, but, make sure that you learn how to use it. Use a diffuser to avoid those shiny reflections from the face. Better use a white wall or a white ceiling to diffuse or to fill light.

photographing events for beginners

Image form Pexels

Be Prepared for Absolutely Anything

Event photography can be quick so don't be surprised when things change very quickly. In order to avoid missing anything during an event, it is important that you learn how to use your camera properly.

There can be a sudden change in ambiance and movement of people around.

You do not want to end up taking photographs that have nothing recorded (plain black) because the lighting changed all of a sudden while something important was happening.

Events can be quick and you as a photographer constantly need to be looking around the venue and capture anything that’s happening. So learn to quickly make use of the settings in the camera to capture good images.

photographing events for beginners

Image by Kris Atomic

Take Pre-Event Shots Before the Guests Arrive

Do not wait till the guests arrive at the event and are all settled in. Taking photographs of the neat arrangement of the venue before the event actually starts will be a great asset to the client as they will be able to use these photos later for their ads or catalogs to showcase their business.

This will also help you earn a good name as a photographer.

Make Sure you Cover Everything and Everyone

Do not always go for posed photographs. It is important to document the event as it unfolds by making candid photos of attendees having a good time.

You can see people laughing and engaging with each other, or a band interacting with a crowd, making for good moments to be captured.

Try your best to use the ambient light available as it will bring in the natural mood to the picture. In order to do this, you will have to increase the ISO a bit.

When guests sit down for dinner, try not to take pictures of people having their food as it can make them feel uncomfortable. If during this time, there are other things happening around or on stage, focus on those and photograph.

photographing events for beginners

Image by Photo Mix

Don't Expect People to Pose (or Pose Longer for You)

Attendees at an event would have come there for many reasons. Some guests may have even paid for attending events and hence as a photographer, it is our responsibility to be as discreet and quick as possible.

Attendees may be tied up for time and hence it is best to take a few shots quickly and move on. When there is an important meeting or discussion happening in a room or on stage try your best to use a long lens and shoot from the back.

When it comes to shooting events, it could be anything from a wedding or a birthday to a concert or conference.

Whatever the event, do not ask people to pose or give them directions to pose. When you are one among the crowd, it is best to look for candids where people do all sorts of things. Document their natural mood, feelings, and expressions.

If there is any action happening, capture it as and when it happens rather than having those people pose for you later. Try various angles and decide the best one for you.

photographing events for beginners

Image by Michelle L Steffes

10 QUICK TIPS

  1. Dress for the event: Get to know the etiquette of the event; always try your best to dress in accordance with the event so that you blend in with the crowd.It is safe to be over-dressed so you can always remove the coat or the tie if not required for a specific event. This applies to both men and women.
  2. Do not overshoot: As event photographs are a record of what happens in an event, it is always best to take two to three good shots of each frame/action and quickly move on.While editing, just choose the best of the three or maybe two of the three if the person in the frame is a VIP.
  3. Up, close and personal: Try and get some close-up shots of people’s expressions and reactions at an event. These can make for some really great photographs as they focus on the person completely and not at anything else happening around.
  4. Keep looking for interesting frames: If you are looking to capture a great moment of someone or something, make sure that you frame them from the correct angle and make use of any interesting elements available around, to make the frame interesting.
  5. Prepare in advance: Know everything about the event and all about the location so that you can prepare yourself for what can be expected. Look for the available lighting so that you can carry necessary gear along with you.
  6. Know the rules of the event so that you do not hinder people’s view of the stage or do not get in the way of important ceremonies, although you need to get the shot. Be calm, mindful and polite.
  7. Always shoot RAW so that you’re able to fix the white balance when necessary while post processing.
  8. Mode to shoot: Most photographers prefer to shoot aperture priority and the best thing to do would be to shoot either manual or aperture priority so that you set the camera depending on the available light.
  9. If someone does not wish to be photographed, just give them a smile and move on; do not insist on taking their photo.
  10. Keep your camera ready at all times. Do not have the lens cap on unless otherwise required.

So, of you're considering stepping into event photography, these tips should be a good place to start. It's a really interesting and varied side of the industry to get into and although you have less reign on creativity, solid clients can really help you build up some experience and reputation.


Further Resources


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About the author

Dahlia Ambrose

Dahlia is a physicist and self taught photographer with a passion for travel, photography and technology. She can sometimes get obsessed trying new photography techniques and post processing styles using Lightroom or Plugins in Photoshop. She occasionally writes articles on topics that interest or provoke her. You can check out her photography on Instagram, 500px and Flickr


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