Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Baker's Dozen: Photography Tips For Events

I recently had someone ask me for advice on shooting a wedding. I gave her the following tips and tricks. Do any of you have other ideas, corrections, or pearls of wisdom to share?

  1. The most important piece of advice I have to give is to take more photos! When shooting a wedding, if you walk away with less than a thousand pictures, you probably did something wrong. Just keep shooting everything, and everyone, in sight.
  2. At least 80% of the pictures I take never see the light of day. You only get to see the cream. (Bonus tip: If you post all your photos of people trying to laugh, talk, and eat at the same time, you won't have anything to blackmail them with later. Keep a strategic reserve.)
  3. If you shoot in manual mode ~95+% of the time, like I do, you have to be aware of things like turning around while near shadow-boundaries, etc. (exposure needs can change radically when you least expect it.)
  4. I also recommend that you keep the image-review mode turned on; that way you can see if you are messing up on things, such as exposure times, with every shot.
  5. Make sure you have a tripod (So useful!), enough space on your memory card, and a spare battery or two.
  6. Auto focus is usually the best way to go, as it frees your mind for finding your next shot, and not on trying to get the previous one right. BUT! Sometimes you will want manual.
  7. Get there early, and stay late. Shoot anything that moves, and also any of the things that do not.
  8. Longer distances + lower F-stops = more focus contrast between subject and background.
  9. Check out your shots by zooming in on the details of one every once in a while, especially around the time before and after the sun sets.
  10. Change your angles a lot. Shoot from the hip. Hold your camera on your tripod up as high as you can reach. Don't be afraid to get down on the ground; Perspective matters!
  11. Remember, there is no such thing as a wasted picture; you're not shooting on film. It's free and unlimited and free!
  12. Change around your settings and play with your equipment before the event to get a good idea of how you want to roll with things when you are crunched for time. (They aren't going to walk down the isle again for you.)
  13. Have a back up camera! (Beg, borrow, or steal!) Even if it's just a point-and-shoot. I have a friend who is a professional photographer and her camera recently went out in the middle of a wedding shoot. If the bride and groom had not hired two photographers, she would have been in a world of hurt. A P&S may not take super quality shots, but it's a mountain better than nothing.
Hope this helps!