Event photography is the goal of most amateur photographers. Moving from casual photo-taking to professional events where you’re paid to take photographs of weddings, concerts, live events, sporting exhibitions, and so much more is the dream come true.
But if you’ve just landed your first event photography gig, you need some tips on how to arrive prepared. It’s critical that you come across as a true professional. It’s the only way you’ll get recommended for more event photography gigs in the future.
By utilizing your skills and memorizing some of these tips and tricks for event photography, you’ll make more money. You’ll also grow a larger customer base, and you won’t look ridiculous or suffer an embarrassing experience when you show up unprepared and even missing equipment.
Come Equipped: Never Forget Your Gear
One of the worst things you can do in event photography is show up at an event without all your gear. This means preparing for every eventuality. Even if you’re supposed to be shooting outside on a sunny day, pack the gear you’d normally use to shoot photographs in a dark basement. You want to have all your bases covered, just in case.
When it comes to which camera you should bring, bring them both. Bring your favorite portrait camera for shooting in low-light, indoor situations, such as at parties and weddings. Also bring your favorite camera for landscape photography, because you just never know. Always be sure to have the highest megapixel count possible to capture the most amount of detail.
At the same time, you should also bring a camera that can pick up the most frames per second for when the action really heats up. This means a reliable camera with great autofocus points, expert tracking, and with customizable shutter speeds. Ideally, you would have one professional camera that can handle all scenarios.
With event photography, your files are going to stack up quickly. You should always have on hand a reliable supply of large SD cards or flashcards to store all necessary photographs for later processing. For that matter, always bring extra batteries – and don’t forget the car charger, just in case.
For lenses, you’re going to want a large variety. That said, event photography often deals with people in close proximity. Try a lens with a max stop of between F/1.8 and F/2.8. This will let in sufficient light thanks to the wider aperture to make the final photos bright and energetic.
The best lenses to use are the ones with luxury glass. High-end lenses are sharper, faster, and more reliable. You can’t cheap out when it comes to the best lenses for your job.
And lastly, bring lighting equipment. You never know what kind of situation you’ll be dealing with. Portable artificial lighting is critical. Make sure you have flash available as well as some kind of continuous light source.
Capture Moments: Always Stay Vigilant
The only way you’ll get rehired in the business of event photography is if you capture the proper moments. This means powerful expressions, big smiles, and lots of energy from all the subjects in the room. There are a few key tips for ensuring you always get the best shots.
First, set yourself up at a great vantage point to get natural environmental shots. Understand who you’re there to take photos of and perch yourself in such a way that you can follow them easily with your camera, snapping the shutter whenever something happens. Usually, if you sit still long enough and wait, moments will appear.
This means you must always be behind the lens. A great moment can occur anytime and you must be prepared to cover it. Watch people’s eyes, be aware of your surroundings, and try to anticipate what’s going on in every part of the room. There is always somebody in some corner doing something that will make a great photograph.
Never be afraid to take a multitude of photos. You can always delete the boring ones later. It’s better that you take the shot and get nothing than you miss something amazing. And when it comes to uncomfortable, stiff subjects, try to lighten the mood with a joke. You can even switch it up and catch them in more of an intense moment than a funny one.
As a side note, candid photographs are the best. By watching people interact, you can catch the most intriguing candid moments that other people at the party may have missed.
But you also must capture posed photographs. These are absolutely key to getting more work and making more money. Don’t be afraid to pick out handsome couples and ask them to pose for a photograph. You should also be comfortable asking people to embrace, strike poses you think will look the best, and even kiss if it feels appropriate. They will always thank you later when they see the pictures.
Manage Expectations & Make a List
Every event photography job is going to be different. Always have a dialogue with the client before showing up at the event. Ask some very important questions, such as what kind of event it is, what kind of images the client wants, what the important moments may be, what style of photography is their favorite, and what they don’t want included in the pictures. This will help ensure satisfaction from the customer. Always be open to communication and understand the needs of the client.
Once you understand what your client wants and what kind of event you’re showing up to, make a list of critical shots that you think will make the job a success. Whether it’s a wedding or an office party, try to have some key moments that you’re on the lookout for to build a comprehensive album of the event.
To ensure that you capture everyone and leave nothing out, try communicating with the event organizer or key people at the event. They can point out the star players, the couples, and other important aspects that your camera should be focused on. If you miss a reaction from the birthday boy when the surprise cake rolls out, your client will probably be furious.
The Legality: Make a Contract
Event photography may sound like the dream job, but the truth can be nightmarish. Remember that everyone else at the event is usually part of the family or the group; you’re an outsider with a camera. Parents can get angry and ask you to leave, disgruntled spouses may want a refund after bashing your photos simply because they spent too much money on their own wedding. Anything can go wrong, meaning you need to be legally safe.
If you’re getting serious about event photography, hire a contract lawyer. Make sure you cannot be sued or held accountable if something beyond your control happens. This means clients can’t get sneaky refunds, thereby ruining a whole day and costing you money.
Before actually going to the event, make sure you have a legal contract to protect your hard-earned cash.
Be Punctual & Professional
Finally, be punctual and professional. This means showing up before most of the guests. Always be early. Not only does this make you look like a dedicated pro, but it also gives you a chance to photograph the venue before the guests arrive, then the guests as they arrive.
Also with punctuality, you should have a reasonable turnaround time. In general, seven days to deliver proofs to the client is acceptable. Too early and you’ll look like you didn’t try hard enough, and too late… well, you’ll look lazy.
Another thing to remember is that events lose relevance pretty quickly. After two weeks, everyone may have forgotten and your client may not want the photos anymore. Be sure to collect and deliver within seven days.
As for being professional, there are two things you really want to keep in mind. First, don’t bother the guest. Don’t interrupt guests at an event to take a photograph. Be polite to everyone, even if you don’t like them. If someone asked not to be photographed, leave that person alone.
Second, dress the part. You can normally skate by with semi-formal attire at things like parties and office gatherings. But if you’re showing up to something highly formal, like a wedding, make sure you show up dressed to impress and to blend in. Try to become a part of the very scenes that you’re shooting.
Event photography is not always an easy picnic. First and foremost, you must remember to take care of yourself. Most events go on for a full day. You may show up early in the morning and not leave until late at night. Pack your own food so as not to be presumptuous that the organizers of the event will feed you, and be prepared for a long day on your feet.
Make sure to clearly communicate with your client, have a list prepared of moments and shots that must be captured, bring all relevant equipment and then some, and dress to impress while acting like a professional, staying out of everyone’s way, and remaining behind the camera to catch all the best moments.