A lot of people don’t like having their picture taken, especially at a business or fund raising function. They are deep in conversations, they are networking, and they don’t want to be disturbed. More than once I’ve gotten the evil glare from someone that meant, “Don’t even think about it!”
My best technique is to circulate through the party quickly and early
I chat people up, and tell them I won’t take much of their time if they just give me a quick pose and a smile. I tell them I’m giving them a chance to look their best. If they protest, I tell them I’ve been hired for the event and that the photos will be used for company purposes only. People may want to know who you are and who you represent, as there may be media photographers covering the same event as you. Approach people in a friendly and business-like way they usually can’t say no. Most people do not want to seem impolite. In the case of a family reunion or wedding, people are usually a little more willing to be photographed. You can have a bit more fun with the shy ones at a non-business event too.
Don’t be a voyeur
Engaging people as aforementioned above is better than just snatching photos with a long lens of people standing around talking. That’s what usually raises eyebrows and gets you stern looks. Act professionally, and you’ll get hired again.
Here are some more useful tips on shooting candids:
- Don’t take photos of people shoving food into their mouth or when their mouth is open. They will not be impressed.
- Groups of 2 or 3 work best and make a nice horizontal.
- If people are standing they look better than if they are sitting.
- Step back a bit and use a longer focal length as opposed to being a foot away from people and using a wide angle lens. Distortion is unkind to people’s faces.
- Overall room shots are less successful so don’t bother, Unless your client is a party planner and they want room shots.
- Use the bounce flash card to negate red-eye. Bounced light is also less harsh than direct flash. If you don’t have a bounce card built into your flash, make one out of white card or plastic and attach it to your flash with an elastic band.
- High ISO is okay, but 400 ISO is usually the highest I need to use.
- You’re capturing moments not fine artwork, and the chances of something being enlarged past the size of a standard letter page is pretty rare.
- Only show the best shots from the party to your client.
- Delete the closed eyes shots and the shots that people don’t look their best.
Sometimes you get asked to do large group shots at parties. Group shots are one of the hardest things to organize and shoot, especially indoors with limited lighting and when people are in party mode.
If possible, try to get your group outside and look for an area where you can get people on different levels as opposed to standing all in a row.
Use a small f-stop (larger number eg F-12, F-16 up) for your group, so you’ll get more people in focus.
Experiment by trying flash outdoors to even-out the light and fill in the shadows.
Keep extra flash batteries and camera batteries on hand if it’s a big event.
Even introverts can be party photographers
Getting good event candids is fun and easy if done right, and you can make some good money at it too. I’m an introvert, so it took me a bit of practice to just go up and talk to people. But one thing I’ve learned, is that people usually like to talk about cameras and that’s something I can speak easily about.
The camera also acts like a crutch or a friend, and when there is nothing else to do you can always adjust the dials and make yourself look like you are doing something highly technical and important.
Practice at your next family event
Practice being aware of your surroundings. Check areas of the room for possible backdrops to portraits.
Beware of false light glare falling on main subject ( light from coloured bulbs can be very unflattering to guest photos ).
Don’t take photos where there is too much clutter in the background eg..pictures on walls, exit and toilet signs..
Check to see if there is an area of natural light coming in from a window and see if you can clear a space for taking pictures beside it.
Remember if you cannot move stuff out of your way to get your image eg, tables, stage, pillars..Move yourself to a different angel or try a soft aperture or use flash to blur and darken the background.
Most importantly, ALLWAYS SMILE and be APPROACHABLE
There is nothing worse than a moody crabbit looking photographer!
So give this ago folks and remember, its probably digital cameras you are using so don’t be afraid to shoot loads of frames until you get the one you like..
HAPPY SNAPPING FOLKS