At this time, many people want to be a photographer. It’s easy to screw it up. Even though photographers pour over “how to” posts on blogs and buy tons of books, people tend to neglect common sense techniques when taking pictures at events. A prime example is a recent event for me. I was not the photographer. I was the tech, so I had the privilege to watch. The photographer, who was from a local political group, had impressive gear. They had a Nikon D3 with a Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 and another D3 with a Nikon 70-200mm f2.8. The issue in the middle of the event was that this photographer got on all fours and crawled to get a shot. The crowd snickered because the photographer looked insane.
Keep Your Gear to a Minimum
To be an event photographer, you need to think as a minimalist. You want speed and accuracy. You are not there to make high art. As an event photographer or photojournalist, you are there to document what’s happening. Too much gear makes you look like you’re trying to overcompensate.
It’s nice to be prepared. If you are not going to use some of that gear, however, don’t bring it. Leave the huge bag at home. If you can, only carry what you need. Carry your camera or cameras on a strap like the like the Black Rapid yeti. If you have to carry an extra lens, consider a small bag like the Think Tank Sub Urban Disguise 10 or a Lowepro Event Messenger 150. Theses bags are small and easy to maneuver as they stay out the way.
Know When to Use Lighting
Lighting can make or break an event. You have to be able to judge and decide when you need it. Using lighting at the wrong time can distract or ruin the mood of those around you. Everyone at the event is a potential customer. You do not want to anger them by being rude with your popping a flash in their eye . Most photographers think about flashes all wrong. Good lighting does not depend on your flash either. You also have to consider your white balance. Setting your white balance with something like an ExpoDisc will save you tons of time editing. You have to consider the dark art of metering as well. Dialing in your settings for a room will give you consistent image quality.
Know How to Present Yourself
Not all events are created equal. Some events are formal while others are casual . You have to dress properly for each occasion. You do not want to show up to a wedding in tattered jeans and a t-shirt. The quality of your images is not the only things that matters. It is also about how you present yourself. People remember how well you fit into an event. Were you invisible? Did you distract the guest or participants? Were you polite and courteous? How you present yourself matters at the end of the day.
Know How, When and Where to Get the Shot
This may be the most important thing. You do not want to be in the face of a person giving a speech with a 50mm lens. You want to be out-of-the-way. You do not want to get a shot of a person while eating. You leave them open to an embarrassing moment. The idea is to learn when to anticipate things. You have to search for that right moment to hit the shutter. It requires a little patience, and it will save your memory card and your editing time.
Crawling on your knees through a room is not the way to get the shot. Bumping someone out the way is also not the way. You have to be cool, calm and collective at all times. You attitude will show in those you are photographing. The happier and easier you are when working an event or a press junket the easier things will be for you. It will show in your images. Your subjects will be more comfortable with you as well. If you are too frantic or too aggressive in trying to get your image, people will not work with you.
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