In my time as an event photographer, I have come up with some things that always seem to work. They are simple and clean methods that never fail. It requires something that goes beyond just having great gear. A little preparation can go long way.
So let’s get right into it.
If you have the time, take a moment and look up the venue. Look for images from earlier events to get a sense of the lighting. It is good to know how much room you will have to move around, locations for portraits, and a spot for you to capture the entire room.
Keep your gear light and maneuverable. Assuming you are shooting with a DSLR or Micro 4/3 camera, try to shoot with the fastest glass possible. I prefer lenses like the Nikon 35mm 1.8. Lenses like that the give you a nice angle to work with while shooting great portraits. Lenses like the 28-70 2.8 work well also. A good lens strap like a black rapid RS-7 is very convenient because it will allow you to free your hands without putting down your camera. A pen and paper, or some other note-taking device, is essential, too.
If you have done your research, you should have a good idea what type of lighting you will have to work with or otherwise need. If you have to use a flash be sure to carry light modifiers like the Garry Fong puffer or a bounce. Keeping the light soft will make you less annoying and your subjects will look better.
When you consider which camera settings you are going to use, think of what’s fastest for you. You do not want to spend too much time fiddling with them. Do not be afraid to push you ISO up to keep your shutter no lower than 1/100. However, be flexible. If you have to lower your shutter speed, make sure you can make your camera as stable as possible. You want to keep the people as sharp as possible and avoid motion blur.
Be like Water
Work the room quietly politely and efficiently. Stop to capture a photo, and then keep moving to the next shot. Keep everything natural and try to go for the candid look. Don’t stress over your shots. Move up and down as you shoot to get different angles of everything around you. Think as you shoot and have fun.