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Event photography, simply put, is sheer hard work. Be it a wedding, a corporate dinner, or a sporting event, you’ll have to grapple with a large space, bustling crowds, and a range of different lighting conditions. The scariest part? Moments come and go in a flash, and it’s your responsibility to capture the best of them.

This can all sound rather daunting, especially if you’re just starting out – but it doesn’t have to be. Do the required legwork, arm yourself with these 20 expert event photography tips, and you might just find yourself having fun more than anything!

Before the event

Tip #1. Have a clear channel of communication

Communication is key. Talk to the client; it never hurts to be more prepared! It’s pertinent to arrange a meeting to hash out all the details. Ask for a copy of the day’s schedule, and commit it to heart. Make sure you ask the right questions, including who, and who not, to photograph.

Arrange a date to check out the location beforehand to have a test run. Scout your angles, and log the limitations that you’ll have on that day, such as any pillars obstructing your view. If you’ll need power plugs, know where they are to avoid scrambling during the event.

Tip #2. Create a shot list

Once you have the event’s timeline, it’s time to create a list of shots that you’d ideally want to capture. This list isn’t set in stone; instead, it more or less functions as a benchmark of sorts for you to base your event photography on. This also helps to ensure that you won’t miss out on anything of importance. If you’d like, you can even run this by your client to get additional input.

Tip #3. Sort out the legalities

It’s always good to have everything clearly stated in a contract to avoid any disagreements down the road. The last thing you’d want is for any displeased clients raising a dispute about something that’s entirely out of your control!

In addition, if you’re looking to include these photos in your portfolio or website, you should run this by your client to see if their guests would be comfortable with this – or if it’s necessary to include a clause in the event details or invites.

Tip #4. Pack light

Flatlay of camera equipment

Think of yourself as a ninja; you’d have to scuttle around quietly on that day without getting in anyone’s way. The key is to be able to blend into the background, and the last thing you’d want is to be weighed down by loads of cumbersome equipment. Invest in quality equipment that is both efficient and handy.

Invest in a good camera, various lenses, a hot shoe or off-camera flash or, if you’d like, even a diffuser to spread light over whatever you’re shooting. If you need, you can even ask if there’s a separate room where you can stash your belongings so that you’ll only carry around what you need.

During the event

Tip #5. Capture the candid

Bride hugging groom at wedding

There’s beauty in spontaneity, especially when it comes to event photography. Capture the laughs after someone tells a joke; capture the subtle swelling of tears in someone’s eye during a speech; capture the happiness, the anticipation, as well as everything else in between. In a nutshell: sprinkle some fairy dust by making the event’s interactions and emotions the core of the photographs you’re taking.

Tip #6. Work the room

Group of friends drinking alcohol

Mingle, mingle, mingle! Talk to people, find out their stories, and build rapport to get that perfect shot. Discover why they’re here at the event, how they know the couple – if you’re photographing a wedding – crack some jokes, lighten the mood… the possibilities are endless. You should even get to know all the guests regardless of age – even the little ones!

Plus, the more comfortable you make people feel, or the more you put them in their element, the more authentic your photographs will turn out.

Tip #7. Tell a story

It’s one thing to take multiple photographs throughout the night, but it’s another thing to have them taken in a haphazard fashion. Don’t let your photos be standalone pieces; find ways to connect them in a fluid arc. Let the magic unfold, and have your photos tell a story – one that includes both the rambunctious and quiet moments.

Tip #8. Involve everyone

Group of friends eating and talking at a long table

Make it your mission to photograph the important individuals, but remember that everyone at the event is there for a reason. See if you can find a way to fit in most of the people in attendance! It’d be lovely for the event organisers to look at the set of photographs, and see a good representation of everyone that they invited.

Tip #9. It’s all in the details

Close-up shot of table decorations and wine glasses

Arrive early for the event to take some behind-the-scenes photos of the set-up process. After all, you’re photographing a journey, and every moment counts! Some pre-event photos might also be nice to add to the mix, when guests are just arriving and mingling amongst themselves.

In the same light, every detail counts: zoom into the table decor, or snap some photos of the flower arrangements.

Tip #10. Be hyper-aware

1001 things go on during an event; it’s your job to capture most of them. Sometimes, it’d feel as if you’d need to be in multiple places at once – don’t be scared off by this notion! Know how to prioritise, and be light on your feet. Always be on hyper-alert, and know how to best position yourself to snag the best shots.

Things might not always go according to plan, and that’s okay. Be flexible, be on your toes, and always have your camera ready to go.

Tip #11. Familiarise yourself with various light conditions

E-sports screening on stage

As with the nature of different events, you might be faced with a variety of different lightings. Practice and make sure you know what to do with different light conditions, such as shooting indoors or outdoors, in the day or night, and so on.

If the lighting isn’t favourable, familiarise yourself with flash photography, and know how to work the flash to your favour without being too disruptive.

Tip #12. Shoot in RAW format

For event photography, it’s preferable to shoot in RAW format, rather than in JPEG. The RAW format allows the camera to retain every detail captured by the camera sensor; JPEGS, on the other hand, come up short in this aspect.

Shooting in RAW format also makes for ease of editing – this is especially so for indoor or lowly-lit events, where RAW photos allow you to easily soften highlights and adjust dark spots. RAW photos are also a godsend when correcting over- or under-exposed photos. One thing to note is that they do take up significantly more space, so do bring along more memory cards!

Tip #13. Explore different perspectives

Camera in front of mirror

Spice up your photos by trying different perspectives. Try to see things from attendees’ eyes, for example. Take some photos from behind as they’re poring over a display item. Change the height of the camera with respect to the subject by using high and low vantage points.

Capture the light in someone’s eyes as they look up at you, or make your subjects appear larger than life as you crouch down low to get a shot. Include some depth in your photos by including some subjects in the blurred forefront of your photos. Really, anything is possible.

Tip #14. Plan the transition between posed and candid shots

The ability to adapt – and to adapt fast! – is one of the most prized capabilities of any event photographer. You will be taking a medley of posed and candid shots, and the key is to make the transition as seamless as possible. Plan how to take group shots, such as how to best get people in position as quickly as possible.

Tip #15. Shoot in burst mode

Group of women laughing

Key moments pass by in a flash; sometimes, capturing that split-second reaction might prove to be harder than expected. In such cases, shooting in burst mode might just prove to be a lifesaver. Slowly sift through the various photos during your editing stage, and pick the one that’s a winner.

Tip #16. Charge your batteries

Nothing spells disaster more than running low on battery without any spares. We can’t emphasise this enough – charge all your batteries, and never leave the house without some extras!

Tip #17. Blend into the background

Photographer in front of black background

Channel your inner ninja, and make being invisible your mantra. Wear black or grey, and wear sneakers that don’t squeak. The key is to be there without really being there! Think about it: the more people don’t notice you, the more you’d be able to capture the genuineness in their interactions and emotions.

Tip #18. Create an experience

On the opposite end of the spectrum, why not make photography part of the overall experience? Event photography can be really fun; it’s all up to what your client wants! For example, why not propose adding a custom border to the frames for extra branding?

Alternatively, offer the option for attendees to get instant printouts of their photos, which make for a great keepsake of the event. With Ubersnap’s Pronto service, event attendees can receive their photos immediately, without having to wait several days for photographers to edit their works. After all, how many times have you attended an event and never received the photos? We feel your pain!

Tip #19. Don’t be afraid to get quirky

Holographic print from GIF photo booth with balloon background

If the client is amenable, feel free to try other modes of event photography such as using polaroid or film cameras. Alternatively, why not inject some excitement with different formats, such as GIFs or holographic prints? Perhaps even showcase the photos via a live gallery? The possibilities are endless – start a conversation with Ubersnap on how you can jazz up your event.

After the event

Tip #20. Have a fast turnaround

Hand holding camera in front of red background

Cement your reputation as a good event photographer by having a fast turnaround – your client won’t be able to thank you enough. See if you can exercise some creativity with your editing as well; how about some black and white photos to set the mood? But first things first, always, always back-up your photos to prevent any mishaps from happening!

Do you feel more prepared for your next assignment, with these event photography tips? Go out there, have fun, and get some killer shots!