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Event Photography Prep: How to Know What to Bring on Location

event_photography_locationEvent photography can be tricky as every job can be completely different from the last. Take, for example, a wedding photographer – one weekend you may be shooting a wedding at a vineyard, the next a nighttime wedding at an indoor reception venue and, just a few weeks later, you may be shooting somewhere totally different like a zoo or theme park. Event photographers have to be prepared for every situation, and that takes a lot of time and consideration. However, we’re here to share our best tips for event photographers. 

The First Step: Preparing for your Shoot

Know your location: In order to make sure you’re prepared, you need to learn about your location. Take a look at venue maps, make a site visit and ask lots and lots of questions. You need to find out about what lighting the venue has, what extra lighting you need, how much space you’ll have (Will you need a zoom lens to shoot from afar, or will you need a wide angle lens for cramped situations?) and where the best spots for photos will be.

Find out what the client loves: Find out why your client chose this venue. Do they love the fountain atthe front of the building? The rustic feel of the vineyard? The gorgeous city views from the rooftop? Finding out what your client loves about the venue will give you some ideas for photography at the event, as you’ll want to make sure you include these details. Come up with a ‘shot list’ with the client, which will ensure you capture the shots they want most – and it will also ensure no shot is missed during the event.

Be prepared for the worst and expect the unexpected: Things can and do go wrong at events – whether it be a birthday party, wedding or product launch. Have a backup plan if your venue is outdoors (in case of bad weather), take extra charged batteries and blank memory cards, think about how you’re going to get there and how long it will take—and make sure that’s locked in and organised. Put together an itinerary of your day so you know what’s happening next, and schedule time to prepare for your shots. Just in case, try and ensure you have two cameras available on the day – the last thing you need is one camera breaking when you have no backup option.

Things may go wrong, but sometimes these little differences are the ones that make the day and create memories. Attempt to capture everything, even if things don’t go to plan. Strive to capture memories that sum up the entire event.

Practice shooting in diffused light and find out about flash: Often times, events are held indoors where the light levels are low so the ability to bounce a flash or diffuse it is key. Check with the venue and your client to find out whether flash is OK to use and have a think about whether bouncing the flash will work or whether you need to use a flash diffuser to soften the light. These techniques take practice, so it’s important that you practice before the day and don’t use the event as your test. If you’re not allowed to use flash, you’ll need to use a fast lens at a wide aperture or increase your ISO.

Step Two: What to Take on the Day

Now that you’ve asked your questions and done your research, you’ll have a better idea of what to pack for the event – but here are a few must have items for event photographers:

• Your camera

• A backup camera

• A variety of different lenses, suited to the event (cover your bases with a wide, mid and telephoto lens as well as any extras you need to get your shots)

• Extra charged camera batteries

• Extra blank memory cards (make sure they’re formatted correctly as well) 

• Wet weather gear (if shooting outside – umbrellas, weatherproof camera bags and cases – or a plastic bag to wrap everything in for extra protection etc)

• Props, if requested by the client 

• External Flash (if allowed) and diffusers/reflectors or other accessories needed

• Tripod/Monopod

What is on your gear list for events? Share your suggestions in the comments below.

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