Event photography refers to the art of capturing images at events, such as weddings, parties, conferences, and so on. Capturing the atmosphere and interactions of people within it requires an understanding of the venue, people skills, and on-the-go technical camera and lighting skills.
A professional event photographer should not only take excellent pictures, but also keep track of what’s happening throughout the event. This awareness will let them know precisely when to capture moments that matter most. To help you get started, we’ve put together some tips on how to do event photography.
Event Photography Tips and Inspiration
In this article, we’ll cover the following:
- Event Photography Camera Gear | What to Bring
- What to Capture in Event Photography
- Event Photography Challenges
- Other Event Photography Tips
Event Photography Camera Gear | What to Bring
Event photography requires a range of versatile, on-the-go photo equipment. Because no two events are the same, having the right gear will help you capture the moment, whatever the conditions. A good starting point includes a professional DSLR or mirrorless camera body and versatile zoom lens. One solid lens choice, a 24-70mm f/2.8, will allow you to get great results in low light with a variety of focal lengths.
In addition, having a dependable on-camera flash unit is essential for low light situations. Other accessories like tripods, monopods, flash diffusers, extra batteries and extra memory cards will also prove necessary in many situations. Here’s a full list of items you should have on hand for your event photography.
Must Have Gear for Event Photography
- Camera (Professional DSLR or Mirrorless)
- Mid-Range Zoom Lens
- On-Camera Flash
- Flash Diffuser
- Batteries + Backup Batteries
- Camera Bag
“Nice to Have” Gear for Event Photography
What to Capture in Event Photography
Next, let’s focus on what to capture and provide some photography tips for excelling in your event photography. Here’s a list of what to capture during events.
What the Client Needs
What to capture for event photography will differ depending on your clients and their needs. For example, some clients will want you to focus on certain people at the event. Others, meanwhile, may want primarily decor and detail photos. That said, the must-have photos for event photography will depend primarily on the end use for the client. Are the images for a press release? Or, are they for a company website? Are they to capture the fun and candid moments of a company party? Be sure to ask the right questions and understand what your client wants before the event.
Even the most beautiful, artistic photos can prove useless if they don’t serve the purpose for hiring an event photographer.
Clients commonly request that event photographers capture natural, candid and organic moments of the event. For these, try to anticipate moments based on your understanding of each part of the event. Again, staying aware of what’s coming will help you to be ready at all times. Look for laughter, hugs, tears and other moments. Then, position yourself for success in the right place at the right time. These types of moments fall under the photojournalism genre, which you should learn and practice prior to your paid event photography gig.
Group photos are a staple of event photography. Plan these shots in advance, making sure everyone is in the right place and smiling. Here are a few different types of group photos you may be asked to capture:
- Grip and Grins – These photos are of spontaneous groupings of people. For these types of photos, the event photographer walks around the event and asks to take pictures of random groups of people.
- Standard Group Photos – These photos often feature symmetrical posing and subjects looking into the camera.
- Editorial Group Photos – These posed photos typically feature more creative, editorial posing. These will take more time to set up but can be more interesting. Check out our post on Adorama’s blog for more tips on group posing.
Detail and Decor Photos
Often, event photographers will take detail and decor photos without any event guests or staff in the images. Timing is a very important factor for these photos, as they need to be taken in the short time frame between the moment when the decor is finished and the moment the guests arrive.
One helpful tip for getting this done in a timely fashion involves shooting in sequence. Basically, start with closeups and then work out to wider angles. The reason for this is that staff will usually work right up to the point that the doors open and guests enter. Obviously, this can complicate things for event photographers. It’s helpful to focus on smaller sections while more staffers are present. Then, once you’re ready to capture the full room shot, politely ask others in the room to step out for a minute and get the shot just before the guests arrive. This is common practice for 2nd shooters at weddings as they’re typically in charge of capture decor photos.
Entertainment and Speakers
Event photographers will also be asked to capture photos of main events, like performances, live entertainment, and speakers. For these types of photos, event photographers are tasked with finding unique, interesting angles and capturing the scene from a variety of perspectives.
Event photographers should capture a combination of wide, medium, and tight photos to capture the full story. They should also anticipate moments when the subjects have interesting or aesthetically pleasing expressions. Don’t be afraid to try different angles and perspectives to capture unique shots. Get low, get high, and use your surroundings to add depth and interest to your photos.
Event Photography Challenges
Event photography comes with plenty of challenges, which we’ll discuss in the next section.
Lighting can make or break a photo. Use natural light whenever possible, but also be sure to bring an on-camera flash as well to use as needed. If there’s room and the venue allows for it, bring an off camera flash and flash stand as well for more control over the angle of your lighting.
Space to Move
For many events, be prepared to work in tight spaces. Only bring what you need. For example, consider different ways to create a smaller footprint, such as using a monopod instead of a tripod. Ideally, you might also have the event location prepare a secure area to store your extra or backup gear.
Being Outgoing/Overcoming Fears
A big challenge for many event photographers is the need to confidently direct people. If you’re naturally introverted, you may need to practice and get out of your comfort zone. However, once you have some experience under your belt, directing and interacting with your subjects will no longer be intimidating.
Other Event Photography Tips
Let’s end with more event photography tips!
Simple Bounce Lighting is Often Best
Now if you are an event photographer, then bounce flash is going to be your primary tool when you’re working in journalist environments like the one you see in the images above. Your best light will come from bouncing light off of the walls to the left and right of you, and. not the ceiling or the wall behind you. The left and right walls will help you create directional light.
If a side wall is not available, then opt for ceiling bounce or bounce off the wall behind you. If that is not available, then consider an on camera flash diffuser.
Prepare in Advance
Before the event, make sure you have all the equipment you need, including a camera, lenses, batteries, and memory cards. Also, familiarize yourself with the event location. If possible, arrive early to scout the venue and plan the best angles and positions to take photos from. This bit of extra effort and planning can go a long way towards creating extraordinary event photos.
Edit Your Photos
Turnaround time for event photography can vary, but it usually lands somewhere between the same day to a few days later. To meet tight deadlines, go through your photos and select the best ones to edit immediately following the event. You can also cull throughout the event (aka “chimping”) to streamline this process, but not at the expense of missing moments.
For quick edits, adjust brightness, contrast, and color as necessary. Also, crop or straighten the photos when needed. Setting up a “same-day slideshow” to display the images you just captured will give you an opportunity to amaze your clients and market your work. Wedding photographers do this often.
In conclusion, event photography makes for a fun and challenging genre of photography. By following these tips and staying prepared, professional, and creative, you can capture amazing photos that will preserve the memories of the event for years to come.