Great DIY Tips for Beginners to Professional Event Photography
The contemporary world is ruled by visuals, making professional event photography at all your events a marketing must. However, the average charges for professional event photography in Singapore range from $80-$250 per hour — quite the stretch if you are a small event planner on a budget. This leaves you with the next best option: doing it yourself. To help you out, we’ve had a session with our in-house photographer to share how he does his professional event photography. From the information gathered, we’ve compiled this basic guide to DIY event photography.
What Should Be in Your DIY Event Photography Toolkit?
Ideally, a DIY event photography toolkit should be both light and flexible. You want to have with you everything you might need while still being able to move freely around the venue. In case you are planning to use a new piece of gear you’ve never tried before, spend a few days getting used to it before using it in a professional setting. If you are still deciding which camera to use, check out popular DSLR cameras or mirrorless cameras online to find the best fit. Here is a list of recommended gear you might want to consider packing into your toolkit.
Carry a Spare Camera Body
Two camera bodies aren’t a necessity all the time but do have a backup spare at the event location, just in case anything something goes wrong with the primary camera. If you plan to shoot with two camera bodies, consider getting a dual camera strap.
Prime and/or Macro Lens
(*All pictures are taken with the same camera, same settings and same distance of 3 meter between the model and photographer)
A high-quality prime lens is crucial for sharp, focused shots. Prime and macro lenses are ideal for creative, detailed shots. During his shoots, our photographer usually has with him his 50mm prime lens or 100mm macro lens. The lower the focal length, the closer you need to be to the subject being photographed. That is, with 50mm, you need to be closer to the object than you need to be with 100mm lens, to take an image of the same magnification. In macro photography, sometimes being too close to the object, take, for example, an insect might scare away the subject, implying a 100mm is recommended if you need to choose between the two.
For fast-paced events, you never know when and where a beautiful frame will occur. If a frame occurs far from you, the prime lens wouldn't let you capture great distant images if you cannot manage to reach near the object or scene fast enough. However, the zoom is the savior during such unpredictable and fast events. Even if you can’t reach close to the object, it lets you zoom and capture so that you don't miss the moment when it lasts. It might also be difficult to change your lenses often or quickly enough during such events where click-worthy moments happen near and far all the time. Thus, zoom lenses are generally more practical for DIY event photography than prime lenses. Better yet, keep both long zoom and short zoom lens handy. You can also bring one “all-in-one” lens having focal lengths that can cover anywhere from 28 to 300 mm.
The telephoto lens is essential for getting zoomed-in photos of people on the stage and the wide-angle lens is best for atmospheric shots.
Speedlight Flash or LED Light
Your event may be flexible enough for you to bring an off-camera flash lighting set up. However, most events don’t allow the time and space for that. Consider using a single Speedlight flash or LED light to capture photos in low-lighting scenarios.
Spare Batteries and Memory Cards
After all that effort, the last thing you want is losing data. Always have at least two extra camera batteries and memory cards handy. Also, carry a battery charger and a memory card wallet with you to keep your data safe.
Ergonomic Camera Strap
It’s no secret that camera gear is quite bulky and difficult to carry around. To make your experience at the event as comfortable as possible, consider replacing the stock camera strap with an ergonomically made one.
Event photography tends to be fast-paced so it is vital to have a lightweight yet efficient camera bag to hold your gear. It is also essential to find one that will minimise strain and prevent injuries during the event. One great camera bag our photographer personally loves is the Think Tank Change Up camera bag as they have belt systems with modular components that transfer the weight of camera equipment from your shoulders to your waist.
Before the day of the event, it’s important to be prepared so that you know what to expect.
Always Create a Shot List
Check with the rest of the planning team what the main purposes of the event are and what its marketing goals are. What are the main messages the event photography is expected to sell? As the photographer, you need to establish expectations with the rest of the team and from there, plan your shots accordingly. Create a shot list so that you know exactly what kind of equipment you will need and what angles you must watch out for.
Study the Venue
If possible, visit the venue beforehand so you know exactly how it looks like and what you can expect. Plan your shots and study your angles ahead of time so that on the day of the event, you’ll already have an idea of how you’ll create each shot. If it is not possible for you to visit the venue beforehand, at the very least, try your best to get the layout of the venue.
Get the Event Itinerary
If you are not on the team for this, get a copy of the itinerary from whoever is in charge. This will give you an idea of the flow of activities and let you draw up your own schedule.
During the Event
Source: Cowgirl Camera
Move Around the Venue
Do this slowly. Moving around the venue helps you find good subjects. Be flexible and don’t limit yourself. Try to capture your shots from different angles as much as possible. The more you vary your shots, the better your photos will be and the more likely you are to get the best shots possible. This is the reason why you need to check out the venue before the event so that you already have an idea of the angles you can use. Varied shots or angles will also give you different perspectives of the event which can help greatly in storytelling during post-event marketing.
Event photography is usually spontaneous and fast-paced, so be on your toes and keep an eye out constantly for good photo opportunities.
Avoid Taking Photos of People Eating
Our photographer stresses not taking photos of people when they are eating — especially when their mouths are open! Mealtime is the perfect opportunity for you to rest and review the shots you have taken so far.
Lastly, practice makes perfect! If you are a beginner, keep practicing your photography way before the event so that you are confident enough on the day. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for advice from others. Search for tips from other photography websites and video guides online, follow social media accounts of some awesome photographers listed on our site, engage, observe their work and learn. Because, 'You don’t simply take a photograph, you make it'!