Sometimes you may not have enough time to hire a photographer while other times it just doesn’t work in your budget. Assuming you have a decent camera and not just a camera phone, here are a few tips to prepare you to photograph your event.
Step 1: Plan accordingly
Research, research, research! It is always best to visit the venue prior to the actual date of the event. You can get a feel for the lighting, the best perspectives, areas where you can move around freely and run over compositions in your head. Like any project, the more knowledge you have the better prepared you will be, so do the same here.
Step 2: Prepare your shot list
After taking a look at your venue, you may want to do a quick run through of the images you will need to tell your story. Whether it’s unveiling a new product, a tasting event or blessing of the grapes your images will need to reflect the scenes taking place. Here are a few shots you don’t want to leave out.
- Exterior. Most people forget to get shots of the exterior building. These can also tell a lot about the event. Was it an event at a well-known restaurant? Does it capture the hustle and prestige of a big city like New York City? Maybe play up the beautiful landscape of the countryside? Even if the exterior isn’t that pretty, take the shot. You don’t have to use it if you don’t want to, but you may not be able to go back again.
- Interior. Arrive early to snap some close-up, detailed shots of the décor. Lots of time and effort went into decorating this event; do it justice by capturing little details.
- Shoot establishing shots from the corners or someplace high up. Is there a balcony? Or a stage? Can you get a shot of the entire crowd? These are establishing shots that show the entire venue. Take one before anyone arrives and another when the place is packed.
- Profiles. The looks and expressions on the attendees will tell a lot about how the event is going. Laughter, excitement and other reactions to the event can really show how successful it was.
Step 3: Shoot a lot
Great shots can pass at a moment’s notice and you will not get a second chance. Take as many photos as possible to capture spontaneous actions. Most digital cameras have a continuous shot mode where multiple shots can be taken at once; learn this setting. Even after the event is over, stick around; a smaller crowd can give you more intimate shots you were not able to collect earlier.
Step 4: Avoid the common mistakes
Remember you are not here as a guest, don’t shoot what they normally see. Many people at wine tastings have their back to the room as they hover over the wines spread out on a table before them. But we don’t want to see their backs! Navigate to areas guests are not normally allowed to get interesting perspectives. Do not take a million photos of just the bottles being served. We see this so many times. Take photos of the bottles to have them, but focus on the broader event.
Step 5: Know where the photos will be presented
It is always best to shoot for the highest resolution photos. You can always lower the resolution of your photo for the preferred outlet (like a website), but you can never add detail to a low quality one. Knowing the final placement and audience of the photo will also aide in preparing. Certain blogs and social media outlets have different requirements on dimensions depending on the image.
With very little effort, a nice lens and a big memory card, you can document all the details of your events without spending a fortune on photographers. While this won’t make you a pro and there are times where a pro is certainly needed (dark rooms, evening events), this should be enough to help you better document your events.