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How to Shoot Event Photography


Event photography can be a challenging task, as there is a lot at stake, and you only have one chance to get it right. Your primary focus should be on satisfying your client rather than capturing images for your personal enjoyment. To help you succeed in this demanding field, we have compiled a list of tips that will enable you to plan, prepare, and ultimately achieve success in event photography.

Table of Contents


1. Acquire the Necessary Gear: Having the right equipment is crucial for achieving the image quality your clients expect. Make sure you have a camera body that can handle low-light conditions, as many events take place indoors or at night. Opt for a camera with excellent ISO management and a high-resolution image sensor for capturing fine details. Additionally, invest in a variety of lenses to suit different situations, such as wide-angle lenses for context and group shots, and prime lenses for sharpness and wide apertures.Don't forget to carry a quality on-camera flash for low-light situations. You will also need high speed SD Cards & spare camera batteries. We also highly recommend a second camera body & a harness, to make capturing events easier & more comfortable. We use the Sony A7IV with 85mm f/1.8mm & Sony A6400 with Sigma 35mm f/1.4

2. Master Your Camera Settings: Understanding and mastering your camera settings is essential for capturing great event photos. Familiarize yourself with settings like shutter speed, aperture, ISO, and continuous shooting mode. Adjust your shutter speed to freeze motion while allowing enough light to enter the sensor. Experiment with different apertures to control depth of field and exposure. A general rule we use when shooting events is to always keep the Aperture one stop above the amount of people to ensure they are all in focus. (e.g., If there are two people in the image, adjust the aperture to f/3.2. If there are four people in the frame, adjust the aperture to f/5 or f/5.6 and so on.) Find the optimal ISO setting that balances light sensitivity and noise. Take advantage of continuous shooting mode to capture multiple shots of fast-paced moments. Shoot in RAW format to retain maximum image detail for post-processing.

3. Prioritize Client Communication: Effective communication with your clients is key to delivering a satisfactory event photography service. Before the event, establish a rapport with the client and understand their specific needs and expectations. Share examples of your previous work and discuss the event's purpose, mood, crucial moments, desired photography style, and any specific subjects to focus on or avoid. Be available to address client requests during the event, ensuring their satisfaction and building a strong professional relationship.

4. Create a Shot List: Developing a shot list is essential for planning and organizing your event photography. Discuss with the client the significant moments and images they want you to capture. Compile a comprehensive list that includes both essential shots and candid moments. Share the shot list with the client before the event to ensure alignment and manage expectations. This list serves as a reference during the event, helping you stay prepared and ensuring you don't miss any crucial shots.

5. Embrace Candid Moments: While following the shot list, be on the lookout for candid moments that capture the natural essence of the event. Candid shots offer a sense of authenticity and can complement the formal images. Capture guests enjoying themselves, engaging in conversations, or participating in activities without them being aware of the camera. These candid shots often convey genuine emotions and add depth to the event's visual storytelling.

6. Capture B-Roll Footage: In addition to formal and candid shots, consider capturing b-roll footage to enhance the event's narrative. B-roll footage includes behind-the-scenes moments, venue details, decorations, and other contextual elements. Arrive at the location early to scout the venue, identify key moments, and familiarize yourself with the lighting conditions. Use this opportunity to capture footage that tells the story of the event from a broader perspective.

7. Be Aware of Legal Considerations: Understanding the legalities involved in event photography is essential for protecting yourself and your clients. Do some research, or consult a lawyer, to create a standard contract that outlines your terms and conditions for event jobs. Consider obtaining liability insurance to protect yourself against any property damage or injuries that may occur during the event. Ensure you have all relevant licenses & permits prior to commencing work. (Working with Children Card, Police Clearance, Drone Permits, White Card etc.)

8. Maintain Professionalism and Etiquette: Exemplary professionalism and etiquette are vital for event photographers. Arrive on time for client meetings and the event itself. If you have a meal break, avoid dining with the guests and find a discreet location to grab a snack. Politely decline alcohol offers and maintain your professional conduct throughout the event. Treat clients and guests with respect and courtesy, building positive relationships that can lead to future business opportunities.

9. Dress Appropriately for the Event: Adapting your attire to match the event's dress code is crucial. Dress in smart casual or formal attire, depending on the event's formality. Consult the event organizer if you are unsure about the appropriate dress code. Remember to prioritize comfort, as you will be working for several hours and need to move freely to capture the best shots.

10. Avoid Being Obtrusive: As an event photographer, it's important to remain unobtrusive and not interfere with the guests' experience. Avoid blocking guests' views by positioning yourself strategically or using remote shutter release and tripods when appropriate. Respect the event's mood and avoid interrupting guests' interactions. If someone expresses their discomfort with being photographed, politely thank them and move on to the next shot.

11. Anticipate Key Moments: Proactively anticipate and position yourself to capture important moments during the event. Use your pre-event preparation and knowledge of the schedule to be in the right place at the right time. Whether it's speeches, performances, or significant interactions, being prepared allows you to capture the mood and emotion of these critical moments effectively.

12. Focus on Intimate Shots: In addition to capturing the overall atmosphere of the event, zoom in and focus on intimate moments that convey emotions and tell a story. Be mindful not to intrude on people's personal space and use a zoom lens to capture close-ups discreetly. These shots add depth and create a more engaging visual narrative.

13. Direct and Pose Subjects: An important skill for event photographers is directing and posing subjects. Many people feel uncomfortable posing for photos, so it's your role to guide and support them. Start by creating a relaxed atmosphere, ask them to take a deep breath and exhale with a smile. Experiment with different poses and compositions to capture flattering and natural-looking images. Use a friendly and encouraging tone, making subjects feel at ease throughout the process.

14. Deliver Promptly: Ensure that you deliver the final edited images promptly, preferably before the agreed-upon deadline. Timely delivery demonstrates your professionalism and allows clients to relive the event while the memories are still fresh. Prompt delivery also presents opportunities for additional print sales beyond the initial agreement, maximizing your revenue.

15. Streamline Your Editing Workflow: Post-processing plays a significant role in event photography. To streamline your editing workflow, organize your images into categories based on moments and image quality. Utilize editing software to label and rank images, making it easier to sort through and select the best shots. Apply adjustments to a representative image and synchronize the settings across similar images. This approach saves time while ensuring consistent editing styles throughout your work. Using a Loopdeck can really help speed up editing times.


By following these tips and applying them to your event photography, you can enhance your skills, meet client expectations, and achieve success in this exciting field.

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