Event Photography Beginner Tips & Types
Photography Tips for indoors & outdoors Events
What is event photography?
Event Photography is about capturing people and their connection at events.
Photography at events requires very broad skill set. This article covers photography tips, types of events with a long list of types, camera gear and some creative ideas.
Definitions / Descriptions
Definition of ‘Event Photography’ (The boring version)
Event photography is the practice of photographing guests and occurrences at any event or occasion where one may hire a photographer for. (Wikipedia)
Our definition of event photography
“Event Photography is the art form of capturing photos wherever people gather to share experiences.” That’s a little better, yeah?
A single article on event photography tips would not cover all the sub-genres in detail. There are at least 10 types of just the corporate event photography types we regularly photograph.
This event photography tips article is written by professional fulltime event photographers, us. We hope new and upcoming photographers learn and enjoy reading it and implement some of these ideas into their shoots.
Types of events
How many different types of events are there?
There are 31 types of events in life and business you can take photographs at. So if you are looking a genre to specialise in, check out the list below.
List of 31 Types of Events
- Stage and theatre
- Corporate Christmas parties
- Activation events
- Trade show
- Corporate events (general)
- Appreciation events
- Charity events
- New Product launches
- Team building events
- Board meetings
- Shareholder meetings
- Golf days
- End of year functions
- School formals
- Sporting events
- Fundraising events
- Environmental events
- International delegations
- Juniors photography
Before hiring a photographer (or choosing your speciality if you are an upcoming photographer) check out their photos. Some events are very similar while others are so different that you will want a specialist photographer in Sydney. Or at the least one that has some experience in that type of event.
We typically don’t photograph consumer events, some photographers that’s all they shoot. Our advice is, go with an expert if its an important occasion.
Pricing for event photography is simple and complex all at the same time. The amount can range from $400 to $2000. Best to always get a custom quote from the local photographer.
For a full description on event photography pricing, see this rates page, Event photography rates. Also covers trend predictions. It has lists and a guide on what various levels of event photographers should or are charging.
For a general overview on photography pricing see this page, photography pricing. It covers the broader subject of photography pricing, costs of a photography business and a lot more. It’s a great resource for both photography buyers and photographers alike.
Table of Contents
- Photography Tips for indoors & outdoors Events
- What is event photography?
- Types of events
- Pricing for Event Photography
- Professional Photographers You Can Depend On
- Outdoor Photographic techniques & tips
- Photo editing basics
- Tips for Beginner event Photographers
- Event Photography Tips
- Camera Settings for Event Photography
- Event manager perspectives to consider
- Event photography examples
- Event Photography Shot list Examples
- Connections and experiences people have at in person events
- Orlando Sydney’s Biography
Outdoor Photographic techniques & tips
Outdoor photography can bring many challenges that photographers don’t face indoors. Indoors in dimly lit rooms have their own techniques, see below. So too does an outdoor full sun shoot.
More and more weddings are held outdoors. Music festivals, your local street fairs are obviously outdoors and have their own quirks. If you shoot sports, many of them will be brightly lit full sun. Sports photography is another genre of event photography that requires specialist skills, methods and equipment. We won’t cover that in any detail in this article.
Here’s a short list to keep in mind. Some are relating to camera equipment while others are techniques.
Outdoor headshots or headshot sessions, smaller groups can be easier to move to a shady spot. In our experience photos for large groups of people you just have to make the best of not having that option sometimes.
How to shoot in bright sunlight?
Use fill flash whenever possible. We’ve used fill flash outdoors at music festival, local council events and at outdoor workshops. Fill flash outdoors is so helpful we use it on most shoots where there is likely to be a high contrast of light or deep shadows on people’ faces.
What can you do if you can’t use fill flash outdoors?
Sometimes it is just not practical to use fill flash or there are better options for that particular event. Say when medal winners are holding their medals and trophies. Can you have an assistant hold a diffusor to shield direct light from hitting their face? Will the event coordinator move the location of the winners photos? Not always possible but good to keep in mind.
Can you place your flash on a stand closer to the people. Although off camera flash is a more advanced technique it is worth a mentioning here.
Sometimes none of these ideas will work and you just have to capture the best photos on the day your can when you can’t control the light.
What are extra tips on outdoor photography?
For fast moving action events, use a shutter speed to freeze the action 500 – 2000. Balance the high contrast area of light and do what you can in post.
Look out for people wearing sunglasses and hats, doesn’t always look good in photos. Ask them to take them off when you can.
Protect your equipment from rain, dust and high temperatures.
Look after yourself, heatstroke is serious, even mild heat exhaustion can affect your thinking and photography performance. Always wear sturdy shoes and long sleeves, carry a water bottle when you are working as an event photographer outdoors.
Move the people into a shaded area, use fill flash or try to screen their faces. Make the most of the photo opportunities at the time, stay healthy and enjoy.
Camera equipment for outdoor photography
If you are looking to create a soft out of focus depth of field (blurry background) in bright outdoor light, try using a 3+ stop ND filter on your lens and take the aperture to it’s largest opening, ie, 3.5, 2.8 or lower to f1.8 if you have that option.
Lens selection is another bit of camera gear to study. If it is raining you will need a professional grade water resistant lens. Otherwise most F2.8 to F4 zoom lenses work well outdoors.
It is good to have in your kit a wide angle and a tele photo lens (long lens) if you are going to be far away from the main subject. Most shots will be great with modern kit zoom lens if you are just starting out.
We use all pro level Nikon lenses but for beginners in bright light you should be ok. Master your event photography with what you have.
Good composition can be achieved with any lens.
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Photo editing basics
Editing photos or post processing, or sometimes called post production.
What should a photographer be doing to their photos before handing them over to their clients?
Photographers should always be value adding by improving their event photos with some post processing. Never send them out without adding some corrective editing.
The photo editing software we use is Capture One Pro. These photo correction attributes can be done on many types of editing software so you don’t need the super featured or expensive ones for this.
All photos delivered should have some or all these applied.
Sending out un processed / unedited photos is a no no, even worse, sending out the raw files. Don’t do either.
Photographers are hired for their skill in capturing the moments in their unique style. Photo culling and processing is an extension of your unique style and it should always be your vision of the intended body of work, i.e. the photo album that your customers or friends on social media see.
What attributes of a raw photo need correcting with image editing software?
List of 13 photo editing step examples;
- White balance
- Black point
- White point
Photo retouching is a separate and more advanced form of photo manipulation which requires skills and equipment that are best done with added hardware and specialised software. And a lot of self or guided study to do well.
Photo optimisation, for print or web etc, is also a more advanced subject and not covered in this article.
Tips for Beginner event Photographers
The old saying of, ‘you get what you charge’ sometimes is true. (it’s kinda of a new saying) Sometimes when clients haggle over a few coins they end up being the most fastidious customers you will have. Rather than going the cheap photography route, instead when your skills and confidence are up, convey to the prospect that the going rates you are charging will get them great photos and an amazing experience. Share with them how you consider all of the shots list 18 points below.
Event photography requires broad skills so make sure you charge accordingly.
Event Photographers be at the right place at the right time
Be conscious of not being one of those event photographers being in the wrong place at the wrong time. When photographing an event, the audience and main guests should be a primary consideration. Professional event photographers will know where to position themselves correctly, it should be second nature at most business and consumer events. Think ahead of time and do your research.
Professionals will get to the venue early and get an understanding of sight lines, have the correct equipment with them throughout the event and discreetly take the photos they need and move aside. By selecting the best lens and equipment for the shot it will speed up getting in and out of the way.
Your guests should have a clear sight and not miss key messages or get a poor impression of your professionalism. Their experience must always remain a positive one.
Event Photo quality tips
Event photography can be tough sometimes, lighting could be very low, your Speedlight doesn’t have enough power to bounce of the wall or ceiling. It can be a challenge to deliver technically high photo quality.
When the event venue is not easy to shoot in or the guests are a little loose for those group shots. And combined with camera equipment you may have that isn’t as advanced as you’d like, you need to default to what has worked for you in the past. Use your safe shooting settings. We suggest always prioritising a slightly high shutter speed so you don’t blur photos and recover any details and or reduce photo noise in post.
Your post processing software of choice can make a big difference in a new photographers tool kit. Is it set up with your recipes for Capture One Pro or pre sets for Lightroom. Also improve your knowledge of post processing, watch every video tutorial.
Don’t speed through your post processing. In the beginning of your photographer career you want to take your time, culling, cropping, and rendering a nice to the eye white balance and brightness. Don’t over sharpen as that may introduce more digital noise. Deliver your best and you will get repeat bookings.
Interacting with guests at the event
As a newbie photographer, you will need more than a good understanding of your camera equipment. You will also need to be flexible in your interactions with a great variety of guests at one of the many types of events.
You will be under pressure, your skills and comfort will only grow when you are being pushed to a new level of professionalism in your event photography development.
Events by their very nature are run and attended by teams of people. Working as a team during the event is paramount to it being a great experience for everyone.
Look after the guests, look after the event manager and capture great candid photos. Also try to stick to the event photography shot list as best you can.
Deliver on time and be remembered for being a team player. Then enjoy the appreciation of recording the important shared experiences for everyone.
Outdoor group photos can take lots of practice
Event Photography Tips
How to take photos indoors?
Indoor photography will have dimmer light than outdoors, stating the obvious. Sometimes indoors you will be shooting during the day and may have natural light coming in from windows and glass doors. That can be a good thing or sometimes not so good. More on that below.
Many of our business events are at night so it is mostly in low light.
There are few options event photographers have when photographing indoors at night. The one we use mostly is on camera speedlights. We carry two cameras and both are set up identical except for the lenses, both have flashes attached.
If you are a beginner or semi pro use whatever camera equipment you have with a good and reliable flash unit. If one fails at night in low light your shoot is over.
Indoors photography can be difficult to balance with strong natural light from outside. Not only the light intensity but the kelvin (colour temperature) is challenging to balance. For example, a wedding we photographed at Dockside Darling Harbour. The event started late afternoon, bright light was coming in and we tried to balance the speed light with the intense outside light. Back lit events will require a lot of extra thought to get right. The wedding photos turned out great regardless of the constantly changing light.
Do I bounce or direct flash?
Tip 1 – Bounce light
Indoors you may have a function room with a low white ceiling. If it’s lower than 4-5 meters your in luck. Bouncing a flash off a low ceiling will give you soft and flattering light. Bounce flash from a neutral colour ceiling also helps to blend in the ambient light with the artificial light. Generally flashes are around 5100 kelvin. If the room has warm indoors lighting of 2700 kelvin, balancing this in post will be time consuming. Bouncing will blend the two quite nicely.
Tip 2 – Direct flash lighting for event photography
Another technique is to use your speed light pointing directly at the attendees at the event. If that’s your only option either because a low ceiling isn’t available, or as we regularly see, the ceilings are black indoors. And bouncing of a wall is rarely going to work in large rooms. We sometimes use a diffusor on the flash unit. Many times we don’t and blend the ambient light with artificial. It takes practise to do so but when you do it also captures the look and feel of the room.
Too much flash light up close can sometimes make the low light room look black and then the photo has no context.
Tip 3 – Can I use a tripod for event photography?
Finally, another way to take good photos in low light indoors is to use a tripod. Not possible for every eventuality but very useful none the less. The details shots, room ambience and displays etc.
Mono pods are easily moved around and can help keep the camera steady if you must use a very slow shutter speeds. You can even get some cool effects of using long shutter speed with a flash for a room full of people. Have fun and stay creative.
Tip 4 – Taking event better low light photos
If the room has very yellow / orange light use an orange gel or diffusor on the speedlights. If you don’t you will get all sorts of issues when doing your post processing. You don’t want people in the foreground to be yellow tinged while everyone behind them has a blue colour cast.
Do a room walk through assessing not only the indoor light intensity but also taking note of the temperature / colour cast and it’s directionality.
Low light photography can be a little daunting at first when you have less experience but by going through a short checklist of these tips you will be well on your way to mastering low light indoor photography.
Large scale event example
Camera Settings for Event Photography
What are good camera settings for indoor event photography?
There is no best setting for all occasions in event photography. For concerts and festivals with low stage lighting has different best requirements than a well lit indoors networking event.
The base settings are similar. Push the ISO as high as you can without getting any noticeable or distracting grainy noise in the photo.
Some cameras produce clean photos up to 1600 ISO. Others are not such as older crop sensor cameras. If you are not sure try an event at 800 – 1200 ISO and see how the photos look. Make adjustments higher or lower for the next similar indoor event.
Beginner tips on camera lens settings
Aperture, you will most likely use the best lens you have with the biggest diaphragm opening (aperture). Numbers on the lens will be the smallest, that is 1.8, 2.8, 3.5 or 4.5 depending on your lens.
The bigger the hole (diaphragm) the more light that reaches your cameras sensor. The best setting for your lens at indoor event photography is to let as much light as possible by using the f1.4, 2.8 or f4 on the lens.
Continuing the basics of camera settings, now we focus on the camera body.
Focus mode generally works best in point or group focus mode. Nikon has a 9 point grouped focus mode that works well. In reasonable indoor light we use single point focus a lot.
Shutter speed, the fastest possible. For a 50mm lens with steady hands and a subject not moving much or at all (like people sitting still at a conference). Try a few test shots as slow as 1/25s. If that’s not producing sharp photos on the back of the camera screen, speed it up to 1/50 or 1/150s etc speed. Until you are confident of getting sharp clear photos.
Summary for indoor event photography camera settings
- Fast lens, wide aperture e.g. 50mm f1.8.
- Shutter speeds from 1/50 to 1/250 sec.
- Try with ISO 800-1600.
- Use manual mode for aperture.
- Wait for the right moment to shoot.
- Use a speed light / flash if allowed.
- Use a mono pod for static subjects.
- Focus mode on single point or grouped
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Event manager perspectives to consider
New or semi pro photogs may find it useful to understand what some event managers are looking for
- Photo use Objectives
You have an overall event plan mapped out. The goals are attainable, and all major elements considered. Now it’s time a for a bit of detail. What usage outcome would you like from the event photos? Jot it down. This will form part of the photography brief.
- Defined post event marketing audience
Who will be the audience from this event, their persona or demographic? What are their behaviour patterns and motivations? What products and services are they interested in? Make some notes and add to the photography brief.
- Develop a concise event narrative
Keep it simple and memorable. Share it with the creatives so they can keep your story in mind. What lasting impression would you like your guests to have a month later? This is great information for the creatives to know.
- Attract people to the next event
Consider which promotions you’ll run, will you be including prizes or giveaways, competitions, or give out samples? What type of photos can you use for this purpose?
- Photos for communications
Who you are. What you do. What benefits you offer to your clients. The obvious should be reinforced.
- In what mediums the photos will be used
Intranet to your staff, online, print press, external PR Companies or for you mail lists?
- Sales teams to use the photos
Use the photos on the appropriate resources such as pdf flyers and invites, web pages for Staff to reference. Event photos are great to visually defined your brand’s message.
- Capturing your vision
Photography and media teams should have similar briefing notes. That way every service provider has the same outcome in mind. Professionals will pick up the vibe of the event and vision.
- Post-event debrief
When will the photos be required after the event. Have a timeline plan mapped out. Share it with the photographer so they can plan this part of their post event process.
Having all creatives on the same page as you will take a bit of pre event planning. The benefits will be great for your work flow and for the synergy with your teams. Less stress and more fun during the event will have vendors, clients and staff keen for the next time to do it all again.
Keep in mind where and how the event photos will be used in marketing
Once you have all these terrific images from your event. How do you maximise the ROI on them? A few ideas on where to use Corporate event photos for marketing and communications purposes.
- Media announcements
- Client communications
- Social media
- PR communications
- Press release
Businesses without a memorable story tend to get forgotten. Photos from events not only tells a story but can reinforce it over and over again.
By using event photos across these 10 channels the photos will amplify a brand far beyond the event duration.
Event photography examples
Event Photography Shot list Examples
What should I include in an event shot list?
- Overall Narrative
- Sponsors, stakeholders & VIP’s recognition
- Your audience mood at the time
- Capturing the activations
- The venue design and table arrangements
- Your audience interactions
- Your branding elements
- Who the award recipients are
- Speeches and formal proceedings
- Elements of your brand’s theme
- Audience participation
- Media wall and branding
- Live social media use
- The events or award sponsors
- Your audience demographic
- Awards ceremony programming
- Theme, style and creative direction
- Guests using your marketing collateral
The above list is a pretty common example of what we capture at business events. This will vary depending on which type of event your shooting. Photographers staying considered and creative in what is captured will almost always impress event Managers more so than just taking photos as per shot list and lacking in context.
Connections and experiences people have at in person events
In this event photography tips article we’ve shared some strategies on how we approach events. In many circumstances such as low light, or very bright outdoors photography sessions can be made better by using a few of these techniques.
It leads to better photos and better experiences for you and the people you are photographing.
Great event photography will always add value by recording all those important connections and experiences people have at events.
Orlando Sydney’s Biography
Professional Photographer, Orlando Sydney has over 20 years experience in the commercial and corporate sectors. Over his career he has attended and photographed 100’s of business and corporate events. Service excellence has been demonstrated at events ranging from 100 to over 10 000 people in size.
With professional experience in Marketing, Business Development & Strategy, Sales, Floristry, Construction, FMCG, Commercial RE Interiors, Textiles, Electronics, Manufacturing, Workplace diversity and culture. And has been based in Surry Hills Sydney, Australia for over 11 years serving the business community.
Our Expertise is demonstrated with over 1000 photos that are on display on OrlandoSydney.com, plus over 100 detailed articles and pages about photography, and many hundreds of satisfied clients. Orlando Sydney Photography is a member of 3 National Associations and the local Chamber of Commerce Sydney CBD. That combined with behind the lens experience with his first camera in the early 1990’s gives Orlando Sydney a unique perspective in delivering outstanding service.
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Connect with Orlando Sydney on Twitter, and on LinkedIn.
Admin for Sydney in B&W and Monochromatic tones photography group since 2009.
Short Film Credit
Short Film; Room 87 (2015) Associate Producer and stills photographer. Premiered at Cannes Short Film Festival.
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