Shooting events

A corporate shoot the other evening, with an assistant/second shooter. A music school shoot all weekend. Many more shoots coming up: lots to do, and lots of fun.

I like shooting indoors events, because with training, it is simple to get consistent results. And as you know, my favourite party lens is the 35mm f/1.4 prime (fixed) lens. It consistently gets you images like this, from the other night:

Event shot, photo Michael Willems

Event shot, photo Michael Willems (35mm prime lens)

I like this style of shooting and it is worth talking for a moment about how this is done.

  • The lens is a 35mm on a full frame camera. On a crop camera, you would use a 24mm lens. Prime lenses are nice and consistent and sharp.
  • The flash is a single 580EX II speedlight, on camera but bounced 45 degrees behind me, slightly to my right to get light onto the subject’s face.
  • The camera mode is manual. It is set to 400 ISO, 1/30th second, f/4. This gives me an ambient exposure of about -2 stops (the meter says “-2” when I look at an average part of the room).
  • The white balance is set to “flash”. That ensures that the subject is natural, but the background, which is lit by tungsten light, is warm.
  • The flash is on TTL.
  • I ensure the subject is close – but not too close. And not right next to the edge.
  • I compose using the rule of thirds – I avoid totally centered subjects here.
  • I look for a background that tells the story (i.e. a corporate cocktail party; people meeting and talking).

Here’s one more:

Event shot, photo Michael Willems

Event shot, photo Michael Willems

That person blurred in the background helps tell the story.

And one more, to inspire you all:

Event shot, photo Michael Willems

Food - always shoot this.

Do not hesitate: you can tilt. You can shoot the food. As an event photographer you probably should not be eating it, but shooting it is OK.

(These, and many other tips and tricks, are part of my special “Michael Willems’s Events Photography” course – soon as a special at Henry’s School of Imaging, as well as here as a one day special: April 3 in Mono, Ontario. Let me know if you are interested. )

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