Event photography – getting it right!

There are many occasions where people decide to hire the services of a professional photographer for personal or social occasions but businesses and companies are increasingly realising that photographing their events – charitable or otherwise – adds value to it. And, with the power of social media not slowing any time soon, it pays to photograph events to spread the word about your business.

However, like many other social occasions, budgets are tight and we can be tempted to save money by asking friends, or getting the office junior with an interest in photography to capture the event. You may, however, be disappointed with the results…

When we see the glossy images in various magazines and online, they seem to effortlessly capture the essence of the event; people look styled and elegant. The setting appears perfected, with a muted brightness so that eye stays firmly fixes on the people or main object of the photograph. But how do they do this and why do well-meaning ‘amateurs’ not get the same affect.

The Photographers Gear

We have all seen the professional photographer, scooting about with what seems like a myriad of gear, various cameras slung round their necks and, in some cases, an assistant carting about all the ‘other technical stuff’ that may or may not be needed.

How we have sniggered behind our hands and watched with smugness as the first beads of sweat line the brow of the wedding photographer.

Let us not be too harsh for the responsibility of snapping the perfect day, perfectly with every shot is a heady responsibility and any professional photographer will know that getting it right – every time – depends having the right gear, every time.

The two basic essentials are the camera mounted flash and a variety of lenses… but a pro will carry much more, that us mere mortals can only guess at.

Harnessing the light – and creating extra when needed

Right, take a look through your holiday snaps – bad case of red eye? Lots of deep shadows? This is a lighting issue.

Shine the flash or lights directly at your subject and it will pick all the bits you do not want it to; it will cast long, dark shadows, an effect you might not want as well as creating the demonic red eye that we spend hours using software to ‘colour in’.

The solution is to soften this glare by bouncing and diffusing off walls and other object (but not people!). But, if it was that simple we would all be doing it.

What the professional photographers don’t tell you, is that the colour of the object against which you bounce your flash, will be the colour that you get back. So, bright white walls will give you the bright white bounce of flash, red walls and you’ll get a red flash and so on.

However, on occasions a nice, brightly coloured wall is not always to hand, the pro photographer will delve into his bag of technical tricks, producing a light diffuser.

The Lens

This is the bit you have probably sniggered at – the multiple cameras slung around the neck of the pro photographer. You are probably thinking he or she is showing off but what they are doing is being ready and prepared for snapping those shots that are truly unique, not staged between guests and event activities.

To get those effortless shots that look ‘different’, yet natural, is about using different lenses to capture different scenes but some of these scenes can be fleeting, so rather than stopping the action while the pro photographer swaps the lens about, they simply have two cameras and keep snapping away.

Wide angle lenses capture closed spaces well, with the standard and ‘telephoto’ lens capturing more intimate, candid shots. What the couple get is a beautiful array of different shots that really capture their day.

The Detail

Events are expensive occasions to host and with your photographs of the day or evening etc., you need to get as much from them after the event as you can.

Social media is a great way of not only advertising events but also showing the masses who was there, what happened and why you host these things. High quality, well-shot photographs can be used time and time again on any of your social media outlets, from a permanent album display on your website to using as part of your exhibition or trading material.

To this end, spending part of the budget of a pro photographer could reap dividends for months – even years to come – with high quality shots that capture not only the essence of the event, but the finer details.

These sometimes quirk details are not always easily spotted, the smaller detail of the event not always immediately identifiable to the ‘untrained eye’…

but to a pro photographer, these can be picked up and portrayed as part of the story.

The natural ambience of these events is also highlighted much better with professional photos that capture the venue, atmosphere and guests in a way that is not easily replicated with smartphones or amateur photography. Using those professionally taken shots across all your platforms adds an extra touch of class to your event marketing.

‘Amateur’ photographer or stick with the pro?

In this age of economising and austerity, it can be tempting to pass over the pro, saving the cash and opting for a well-meaning employee or enthusiastic amateur – although we all start somewhere!

However, unless they have the equipment and more than a smattering of photographic skill and knowledge, the photos are unlikely to be the calibre that you are wanting and crave for. Stick with the pro event photographer and you will not regret it. Professional photographers know how to get the best out of any situation or light and they will provide you with premium quality images that are fit for purpose.

Bonus tip!

Be savvy in your choice – there’s no need to break the bank, but do shop around for a photographer who has an impressive portfolio, experience in your field and a good reputation. Make sure to ask for quotes and look at packages so you can pick one that suits your budget. A good photographer will have a range of competitively priced options available.

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