I wanted to write about some of the key elements for successfully creating event photography. This is an area of commercial photography that tends to be challenging, simply because you have to be everywhere at the same time, and you have to wear many photographic hats during the event. You can be shooting products, architecture, candid shots, grip and grin, and editorial, all while battling mixed natural lighting with interior lighting, crowds, and unpredictability.
At times, clients do think that shooting an event can be the easiest thing in the world, but it takes a lot of experience to know the key moments to press the shutter, knowledge of lighting, professional equipment, and most importantly people skills.
Event photography is key for a client. These are events created by clients to highlight their products or services with an opening celebration, or an event promotion of sorts. You have to remember that they spent countless resources, and have gone to great lengths to make this event successful. Getting the right photographer to highlight this is definitely key.
As photographers, you have to remember what the end goal is: to highlight the client product/service/or offering. You are not there to judge the success of the product, whether you like it or not (you are probably not their target market), but rather to make sure that you photograph the event and make it fun and exciting.
One of the key elements in these types of events is expressions. Yes, you need the ribbon cutting, the photos of the VIPs, but you need the shots of people having fun, interacting, and enjoying the event. To successfully catch these moments, you have to be present. By this I mean you have to be constantly seeing the event through the viewfinder, as a photographer, and not a spectator. You have to anticipate moments, follow the action, all these while thinking of your composition, lighting, and lens choice.
Kids tend to be the perfect candidates for expressions, simply because they are so much fun in front of the camera, and they are naturally candid. Follow them, and let them show you how much fun you can have. Again, anticipation is key, perspective, lighting, and all the other photography basics that make a great shot.
And always, think of your client as you photograph. Keep in mind the pre-shooting shot list, the goals of the event, the usage and promotion of the event, and think how your client can use these images. Create value for your work. Remember you are not just snapping photos, your documenting a successful event.