What I think about when I’m shooting event photography
Do you want to know what makes event photography an exciting thing to do?
It’s because it’s fast moving. As a photographer, you’re constantly moving, looking and reacting to what’s going on around you. While you might have a primary brief (“we want some photos of everyone enjoying themselves”), you’re also trying to tell the story of the evening by capturing all the component parts. So, if an event comprises some formal presentations, and some free-form networking, or a drinks receptions followed by an awards ceremony, you want to create photos that capture those different elements, and yet work together to give the sense of the entire evening.
A great example is this recent event in Altrincham. I’ve known Neil Hughes for years – as another local business owner, principally owner of the Cinnamon Club a jazz and events venue. Well, a couple of years ago Neil announced that he was going to write a novel …. and he has! And he asked me along to capture the book launch party. It comprised four different parts: Neil greeting guests and signing books, some general chat and mixing, and a reading (accompanied by music), finishing off with more live music. Quite a lot packed into a single event!
Another aspect of event photography that’s exciting is the challenge of switching between different locations. Locations doesn’t necessarily mean they are far apart – in this case everything took place in the upstairs bar and terrace of the Con Club in Altrincham, an area that could be crossed in a few steps. But within that environment there were three different ‘photographic’ locations. The area where Neil was signing books was by great open doors, lit by beautiful early evening light. The terrace itself was mixed, part covered by a tipi, which created quite deep shadows, and part in the open. Then the indoors bar, which is quite dark by design, and illuminated by different coloured lights (mostly a mix of reds and blues). Quite a mix in a small-ish space, and a lot for the photographic brain to work with! But then, that’s part of the challenge and the fun.
So, part of my brain is taking in the different lighting situations, making assessments and working out the best angle to get the best looking photos in that situation. Part of my brain is keeping an eye on the clock, as I know I’ve only got a few minutes before we move somewhere else, or somebody stands up to speak, and so on. But a large part of my brain is simply watching what people are doing, looking out for a situation that might turn into a photographic opportunity at any moment. It might be someone telling a joke to a rapt audience, or somebody gesticulating, or simply an interesting balance of people and objects in the frame. All these things are whirring through my head at any event.
Here are a few shots from the night, showing the three areas and parts of the night. And if you’re interested in getting a copy of the book, it’s available via Amazon or Neil’s own website.
Whether it’s an intimate gathering like this, or a huge awards event with hundreds attending, event photography has the same aim: to get across just how great it was! Photos for posterity, to remind people of the occasion, or to market for similar events in future. If you’d like to discuss your own event, and how I could help create the images for you, please get in touch.