Event Photography

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Today I would like to respond to a practical subject and may give one or the other a few useful tips about event photography. Under Event Photography, I understand the Photographic accompanied by events such as wedding, birthday, prom, and the like. 

First Questions

Only recently it was time again: the phone rings and it is kindly asked if you could not take pictures because at an event. Can? Definitely. Want? Of course … or? Although event photography is usually quite stressful and can moreover often little creative freedom, you learn definitely something to it and also a potential financial aspect is not negligible. Therefore, one should be or rethink exactly.
Since every normal-minded photographer wants but reluctantly learn in such an order from mistakes, you should clarify at the outset the key data. This allows to make sure that the contract with its own equipment is also feasible or whether one may additional (rented) equipment consult or have to cancel the order with deep regret. This raises questions such as:

Where is the Event?

How many people will arrive?

At what time will it start and end?

What are the expectations?

And you’ve got a rough picture of it, with what equipment you have to pull about going. If you stand primarily middle of the crowd is a standard zoom (eg 24-70 mm) certainly valuable. Of course you could achieve a significantly higher image quality with a fixed focal length, but it is not about a still life but to situations to which one can respond flexibly maximum must. If you stand sometimes further away, or would like to single people and scenes maximum release, and the large zoom can not be missing. Is there a group picture at close range, or to be photographed even just groups over the whole evening? The wide angle into the pocket. If the whole then also – as in my case – happen in the evening, of course, the flash may not be missing and the camera should, if possible, also provide useful results at higher ISO values.

Knowing the location

As you can see are many questions in advance and you can get a first ‘battle plan’ to paint.
Next, you should contact the premises apart. A plan is great for the first impression, but in my opinion a visit to the venue is essential. Only here to show details that you may never have wisely which one has mistakenly puts its stamp as unimportant details or details that are not found on any map. And these are the ones at the end that can decide the outcome of the event. No idea what I’m talking about? Here a small example:

In and of itself a beautiful location. Something dark perhaps, but there is the flash. And the unsightly flash one can judge something to the ceiling to achieve a homogeneous illumination. Mistake!

Theory and practice…

The ceiling of this example – the Cherubin Hall of the 4-seasons in Munich is always filled with mirrors and decorated. The pretty chandelier were placed in wells which are also filled with mirrors. In this area, even with this mirror edges. This may seem nice for the viewer, but can be destroyed by its reflection each flashed image: It caused lightning fragments across the image. And this applies not only when you flash to the ceiling but also, depending on the angle and depth in straight alignment of the flash.

In the lobby area, however, the ceiling of framed glass mosaics is underlined.
The scope of this back-lit glass ceiling lead the Lightning to exciting lines on the wall, which can be used as creative agents, lovingly applied certainly lead to an exceptional image composition.
In the flexible event photography, but you destroy the images rather than that they help as a photocopy of 200 people is not the leeway allowed each image to compose lengthy first and then shoot. In the end it finally comes out, if possible, each person in a beautiful light is to provide and as well as possible to catch the mood.

Now you can decide only from certain locations to photograph. I recommend this in advance some roles red tape for marking the photo spots with a big red X on the ground … This then ensures not only for confusion and amusement among the guests but also to questions, monotonous, and most likely boring pictures. So maybe better no red X e. So I decided my photo equipment to a flash softbox to expand rather than to flash toward the ceiling. In the long distances, however, the flash intensity values ​​was minimized by slightly higher ISO that reflections remain invisible.
In short, so I strongly recommend a visit to the venue with full equipment and, if possible with model to the sample before the event.

Is it allowed?

One aspect we should not neglect the is that there are many places where you can not create professional photographs without explicit permission. In the normal case, although an appropriate venue is booked for an event and I think it is both organizers and the owner realized that this event is accompanied photographically. Nevertheless, one should clarify the legal situation in any case in advance or can be clarified by the organizers to avoid any nasty surprises later.

What is the process?

Just as important as details about the location of the event is of course a precise knowledge of the planned schedule of the evening. The course of the evening you can determine the one about the necessary equipment and gives one to the other the opportunity to take the best possible pictures influence the planning. Because nothing is worse than when, for example, takes the award of a certificate with his back to the photographer and in silence. Therefore, one should of course try to speak in such important details of the evening with all parties through and to plan and from photographic point of view. If one has the right to do this during the current evening, it can easily happen that one so would interrupt the example mentioned certificate Award rude.

Lens, tripod, flash

Now Once you have an idea of ​​the venue and the planned schedule, you can deal with the composition of the equipment. Here probably rather limited existing equipment at the end of the decision, because you can take too little in most cases, probably not. In most cases, therefore, since I assume that 95% of the events are of the type in which one remains all the time in the same area and constantly has access to his vehicle, parked equipment. Let’s take the example above with the ballroom. Why should I also leave only a useful lens at home when I could have the opportunity to ask my equipment at the edge off? The prerequisite is of course that one is equipped with an appropriate bag. Very pleasant are photo backpacks, especially when it comes to transporting a quantity of equipment.
Basically, I definitely recommend a standard zoom (24-70) or a good prime lens for normal shooting, a wide-angle around sometimes but to realize a group photo in a small space with an overview of the whole incident or and of course a larger zoom (50-200) to people to provide maximum free or unnoticed to catch natural situations.
To a little further to look into the possible equipment, I want the types of events a little Categorize:

Event in the evening / with little lighting

If the event will be held in the evening and to not be the lighting rather decent present, you should see that you used bright as possible lenses. With possible Lichtstark I mean lenses with a light intensity to eg F / 2, F/2.8 with zoom lenses. Of course, it goes well with other lenses, but then you have the flash working correspondingly stronger and the image appears increasingly unnatural.
Which brings us to the next point would be: The flash. Here now decide, depending on space and depending on the scope type of the flash. Basically, the flash should always be foldable to easily directed against a low ceiling / wall, or Bouncer upwards. At my last event, I had a flash with guide number 58 Thanks to this, I could also make for some distance yet beautiful photos with the big zoom lens and thus achieve candid snapshots. The most important comes last, and as it comes to the flash is the main battery or better yet batteries. Strong, full and many!
Depending on the space can still also decides whether you may want to take a softbox for the flash. These are already pretty cheap and they make the light usually much more pleasant if for some games must be flashed from the front. In my case, I spontaneously decided to go for the Quenox NG-280 after I found stated that the ceiling is not suitable to reflect the light decent. This Softbox is attached by rubber band and velcro easy on the flash upward and reflects the light to the front of the large area. This is still the center to a semi-permeable reflective coating, which ensures that a portion of the flash is thrown back and more spread out. The performance of the Quenox NG-280 was good, but the light for a softbox was really quite hard compared to other softboxes.

Events outside / with lots of light

First of all I would like to talk to point out that it may eventually be evening also on the most beautiful day. By the by, I would advise anyone recommend highly to read the previous paragraph yet.
Of course it’s easier with a lot of light to get natural images. However, one can get various difficulties here too. So you can be forced, depending on the position to change his photo opportunity or to work with the fill-in flash when you have to work against the sun. There are also unwanted reflections in the lens, which can destroy even such a beautiful picture, if one does not manage to skillfully integrate these into the overall composition. Another problem can represent just at lunchtime very harsh light that produces very harsh shadows and sharp edges. This can also destroy a portrait, because it just in portraits rather a true sharp contours but also comes to soft shadows and a soft skin. The last naturally arises just for portraits then the question of lighting. From the back, from the front? The recommendation here is, so to judge the target person from that the sun is behind it and the face is thus in soft shades of light. Thus, the contours are not too hard. In order still perfecting this one with a reflector try the front slightly to lighten, or alternatively use a fill flash. Important: The flash may not be the main light source, and should be made here as well as a softbox soft.

If it does not but thunders Flashes

Here we come to a point beyond which you can fill with their own courses according to the desired depth. I will touch on here but only briefly what to look for and how it works in principle.

A flash can roughly have two functions: whitening or illumination. Say: He is either the auxiliary light source or main light source. Taken one example, in the evening in relative dark environment a person, the flash is used as the main light source, since the available light is not enough to make a blur-free shot. Pre-set course, I want to photograph well with flash. The alternative is indeed often a long exposure time (only static images) or a very high ISO value (if the camera supports this, but generates noise and loss of detail).

Flash as the main light source

If you use the flash as the main light source, this means that the three blocks speed, aperture and ISO value, another value has yet to be factored in: The flash intensity. If one is in the fortunate situation to have a matching flash with TTL control, this facilitates a life much, as this allows the camera to adjust the values ​​according to the flash of the camera settings. Focused one example with a telephoto lens at 100mm and selects an aperture of F/11, the camera will set the flash accordingly strong and – where available – setting the flash via the built motor control to 100mm focal length. The latter means that the flash is bundled according to the focal length so that no light is lost, which can avoid both scattered light as well as increase the range.

How this represents in practice?

 

In my case, the work began with the lightning long before the actual event. Reason for this is that I wanted to find out in what setting is the work with the flash easiest and at the same time brings the best results. And here I also met quite fast on the first problem. Since I am a fan of Aperture priority, of course, I also began herewith my first flash test shots and began to experiment with different levels of focus. The result was disastrous: Almost all images were blurred or double images were made.
Why is that?
Finding the reason for this was simple: Despite the use of a really powerful flash with a power zoom, TTL and everything you could need, the Canon 30D decided to use very long exposure times rather than more to put on the flash. Of course, this has the advantage that the ambient light is used much more and the picture less ‘flashed’ acts. Disadvantage is that the environment has blurred – as long as you’re not working with a tripod – and moving objects such as people left a trace. Of course you can freeze with the flash movements. But this works only to a certain extent, and only in accordance with low ambient light. In the said case, the person was even frozen, but still left a motion contour. After some research I found a way though, the threshold for exposure times in A mode on the Advanced menu of the Canon to adjust, decided to experience, however, against this possibility by no other nasty surprises.

As a consequence, I started with the manual mode (M) and using the Program Auto (P) to experiment. Advantage of the automatic program is that you can change both shutter speed and aperture with a simple rotating while the camera automatically corrects the respective other value accordingly. The flash control does this automatically, according to the opinion of the camera, what strength would the right. The disadvantage here is that one is naturally limited to the opinion of the camera as long as one does not adjust settings in the depths of the Canon menus and the Flash. An example: Here I propose the camera to an aperture of f / 2.8, provides program automatic exposure time automatically according to eg 1/500 second. It now would be me in the Program Mode not possible in a simple manner as to keep this exposure time, however, to reduce the aperture as for example F/11 1/500s and, as the program auto Maik corrects the time down accordingly. The supposed to be like that and under normal circumstances this is exactly what you want. Nevertheless I prefer it to be the master of the settings and chose the manual mode. This is shutter speed and aperture can be adjusted manually and the camera with the TTL control makes sure that the flash illuminates according to the settings.
Does that sound now as if you can set in this mode what you want and the subject is always properly illuminated? Basically, as almost, yes. Of course, it begs the question whether I s from 2 meters distance from each guest would like to have an extremely hard Flashed image with a setting F/3.5, 1/500, in which one recognizes no more ambient, or whether I have the time prefer something shorter selected, the flash has to work a little weaker and I’ll create a much more natural picture with more ambient, more ambient light and less hard flash. But this is a thing that everyone find out for themselves, and necessarily must experiment with it in advance.

I for my part have chosen to manual mode. Since I have mostly shot series with the same focal length, and because the light in the entire room was the same, the exposure time were previously once adjusted to the focal length that you get Shake-free shots and behind only the hood – depending on the subject – adjusted. So you can, for example, with an exposure time of 1/100s second with a focal length of 100mm around the room, and a photo shoot after another. Will it be a persons portrait, one is close to the open aperture, there is a group photo of 4 persons close to the aperture to f/5.6 to f / 9 to also shifted parties to get sharp. The advantage of this setting is that the flash automatically controls the correct exposure for and I can select the exposure time is absolutely correct for steady shots. Only if I had the focal length changed constantly massively between small and large, I would be the automatic program passed eventually. But you can set the exposure time to the lower limit for steady shots, correct the aperture as needed on the fly and does the rest of the flash. However, you should advance a little experiment here. Thus, depending on the image stabilizer is a shorter exposure time, and depending on the camera increased ISO level are used to make the image appear more natural. In any case, you should see that the flash is used indirectly or softer if possible. See the chapter called ‘event on the evening / with little lighting’.

What to capture?

Now we come to a chapter in which I can only try to point in one direction. This is about the – if you can call it in event photography so – artistic aspect of the work. To stand in the middle of the event and just turn 6 hours in a circle and in all directions, imaging until the film is full, is certainly NOT the way to go. The first one should ask: What do I want to hold? What do people experience who view the images later? How can I illustrate it? What mood matches the event?
So I would rather something more to get example, at a wedding exposure to brighter, more friendly images. Would try that the images reflect the joy, which aired on this celebration. The bliss. The future. Connectedness. Life. And this includes not only portraits of the guests and the couple, but also many many details that make up the atmosphere. So there are roses, there are beautiful clothes, headwear, there are the rings which you absolutely should still get a bed on the pillow. There may be table decoration, there is the menu. But there are of course equally important moments like the wedding ceremony, the first dance, etc. As you can see, it is really important once before to run a brainstorming session and to think about each point as one might depict this Figuratively and of course the eye to focus on small, possibly insignificant at first glance, since these details with can contribute to the overall impression. And so every event has a completely own characteristics. Just as I would not photograph a party bright and white, I would avoid it as well at a wedding colorful, upbeat, possibly to shoot diagonally skewed images with blurred disco lights. Unless of course the first dance is danced to LMFAO. Is to bring Another way more variety in the images to stage a photo subject. Whether it is a small room with chairs and props for posing, or the Classic picture frame without a picture, which the guests can keep in their heads so as to produce fun and fresh designs. The creative ideas are no limits here.

Verdict

What can I say in conclusion? As with any job, it is important to inquire before booking. The fact that you have come to the conclusion may mean that you have taken the time to read my article and possibly many more to prepare yourself in the best possible before. However, this is only half the battle, because you learn a lot just by doing it, not by theories and opinions. And for this part reads: pack camera, looking as similar as possible in the event of friends and practice, practice, practice. After all, nothing brings a faster, than to make their own impression of it … in every way!

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