Event Photography

Event photography is something I've started to do a lot more in the last year. In fact, the last year has mostly been event photography, with hints of travel photography here and there. With #SELECTIVE growing far more than any one of us had ever expected, we've needed to up the ante on our work, and it's meant trial-and-error sometimes. Over the year I've learned a few things about event photography -- it's an entirely different experience, compared to something like portrait photography, or what I was normally used to.


One of the hardest things I found was even getting into it -- that is, starting off the night. People are often quite engrossed in their own conversations, dancing, etc., to really notice you around, and sometimes they're just as shy as you are and don't want to ask for a photo. Once people see someone else getting their picture taken, they'll often loosen up and ask you to take theirs as well, but the first one is always the hardest.

The worst thing about being a photographer is when you're just standing around with your camera in hand, doing nothing. Like, come on! I'm here for a reason. If I'm going to be here, I'd much rather be doing my job, rather than standing here awkwardly wishing I was somewhere else. So I've learned that sometimes you just have to take a deep breath, approach a group of people, and ask if they want a photo. 

It took me a while to grow accustomed to it, but often you just have to ask people. Ask them if they want a photograph, walk around with confidence, strut like you know your stuff -- often people will believe that you do (even if you don't). And act like you know what you're doing, even when you don't. There are still times when I accidentally take a photograph without flash, and have to ask they take one more. There are still times when I've found it hard to interject in a tight circle of friends dancing or chatting away to ask if they want a photo -- I've never been rejected from a photo, but each time it's still difficult to do.

And to top it all off, you've got to do it with a smile. Each and every time I speak to someone at an event, I have to smack on a broad smile, and suppress all frustration, exhaustion, or irritation, because to these people this is their event to enjoy! And I'm not going to be someone who ruins that. No matter how tired you are, how sore your feet feel, and how much your arm and mind aches, smiles out! How do you expect your clients to smile, if you can't smile either?

Your voice

If I shouted out "DO YOU WANT A PICTURE?" and "THREE, TWO, ONE" each and every time I took a photo among the deafening-loud bass booming in the background of a party, I would have no functional vocal cords left (an exaggeration, but you know what I mean).

One tip that I learned, that I am entirely grateful for (especially to LQ, because I witnessed what happened to him at Year 12 Formal when he completely lost his voice). Sign language works magic; holding up your camera and tilting your head = "Do you want a photo?". Use your fingers to count '1, 2, 3'. Hand gestures to move people, tell them to squat down, tell them to stop shuffling, etc. Sometimes I feel like the ultimate commander. Yes, peasants, follow my hand actions. That's right. Kneel before me (so I can fit you in the frame).

Neck, arm, wrist aches

With my upgrade in equipment, I've realised just how heavy lumps of metal can be. Carrying around my D750, the 24-70mm lens, and my flash around my neck for several hours on end is, to say the least, not pleasant. Most of the time the force is being carried by my right wrist, and by the end of the night it absolutely kills in exhaustion.

Largely it's because half the time my left hand is busy counting '1,2,3' to indicate I'm taking a photo, or adjusting flash, etc., and so that means my right hand is left to fend for itself with two kilograms of gear. After my latest event (BSOC Cruise) my entire right upper limb was aching, and often throughout the night I found my right hand literally shaking as it was being strained, trying to stabilise my camera to take an image.

And often, because of the crowds (and also my height) I often end up taking a lot of high-angle shots. This means I have to hold up this mass of gear above my head for ages on end trying to compose the right shot (or an image that appears semi-decent). Not the easiest work-load on my arms, to say the least! This was definitely one thing that no one told me about when I signed up for the job. My biceps, though. Damn, son.

Lucky shots; don't miss the moment

When you're taking events, some of the best images are lucky shots. They're taken in the heat of the moment as people are candid and just happen to do something interesting and brilliant that it makes for a great shot. Especially at parties, things are so random, unpredictable, and fast-paced, that you can never anticipate the next thing that's going to happen.

Half the time it involves just thinking on your feet and pure chance. The other half is abusing your high-burst feature on your camera and then regretting it as your camera buffer takes a while to recover. (And then later regretting your life choices as you have to filter through thousands of photos of the same thing, trying to decide which one is the better image).

Also, to top it all off, often lighting and general photo-taking-environment is not great, so now you have to deal with ISO, shutter speed, flash, and often drunk people as well (fun, I know!).

Meeting people

You meet a lot of people at events. I mean, they're social events, and you being the only (or one of the few) photographers at the event mean that people know you, even though you may not know them. People wait for the photos, and when they come out they remember you for them. And, well, a lot of people come up and chat to you! 

This ranges from the odd person who thanks you for the images, or asks you for a photo, inquires about your gear and chats to you about their passion for photography, to the people who want to know how to book your services, where the photos will be uploaded, or simply chat to you about the weather. The ultimate effect of this is that you meet a lot of interesting people -- half of which are slightly tipsy and therefore far more talkative than you'd expect (You would not believe the number of times I have been told people love me, that my photography is the absolute best, that I've made the night the best ever, that I'm the best photographer they've ever met -- in fact, the best person ever, and how shit other photographers are. And, of course, the general gossip and fun facts about themselves and people who I have never met and don't care very much about. Half of them I forget.) 

And occasionally you'll actually meet someone very interesting who will become a new friend.

And let's not forget all the unflattering photos I have of people... I have been told on several occasions that as an event photographer, I am essentially one of the most powerful photo-blackmailer of all time (hyperbole, but you get the idea).

People appreciate you far more than you think

Now one thing I didn't anticipate is how much people actually appreciate these photos. Each and every time I have taken photos I have been thanked beyond what I expected, and it still manages to blow my mind every time!

It's easy to forget what these photos mean to people. To me, it's just a job -- just a task I'm doing on the side, and something I'm very familiar with. Just doing my usual business -- things I've done a countless number of times in the past; nothing special here. But to them, this is an event that they made. To them, they want this documented, and when you do a semi-decent job, they thank you so, so much.

It reminds me why I continue to do these things. To these people, capturing that moment, the essence of the entire party, the atmosphere of it all, and everything about it -- that's priceless to them. For me, I can place a price on it -- my paycheck, after all. But often I'm reminded that it's not just a job.

Event photography is still another skill, and another genre of photography. It perhaps isn't my favourite thing to do, but in the case that it means so much to the people around me, then it's worth it. And besides, I still get to pick up my camera and feel like it's an extension of myself.

And there's something quite satisfying about uploading a finished album and seeing all the people appreciate you. There's something quite nice about that, I have to say.

Manj out.


Post a Comment


Instagram Photostream

About Me

My photo
Hello! I'm a student from Australia. I like photography, am aspiring to be a Doctor, have fallen in love with many things that life has to offer, and hope to see more of it. I've been blogging for a while and over the years what it means to me has changed. Currently still trying to figure that out, but here I am in a weird hybridisation of photography, film, blogging, and the confusion of a young adult, you'll find me here writing about my experiences and life. Or whatever tickles my fancy. Whether that's entertaining or not is yours to decide. Stay hydrated, kids.