Parties & Events

July 11, 2016

With Christmas and New Year rapidly approaching, why not take the time to read our handy tips on photographing events and parties to ensure you make your festive photographic memories the best they can be!

Go beyond just capturing the high points of the celebration and arrive at the party early. This will allow you to become familiar with the space and also to capture all the important details such as food, presents and decorations before they are demolished by the guests. You can also get shots of people arriving, which helps to build anticipation of the coming photographs. Detail shots of guests' clothing and photos of people greeting each other/hugging will inject more fun and emotion into your event photos and make them stand out from the crowd.

Event photography tips

Tell the full story of the event by capturing wide shots that take in the entire venue and all the guests, then get in closer. Whether it is finding out what time Santa is arriving or when the host will be bringing out a cake, try to find out in advance or at least be ready to grab these shots as they occur. One of the main challenges of event photography is keeping up with rapidly unfolding events, so fast reflexes are a must! This is a good time to forgo full manual control and use the shutter priority mode on your camera; just set the shutter speed to what you can comfortably hand-hold (usually the reciprocal of your lens' focal length) and let the camera select the aperture.


Often events will take place in dimly lit venues, leaving us with two options: bump up the ISO or use flash. What option is best will depend on a range of factors, but keep in mind the following. Try to use the ambient lighting as much as possible so you don't end up with photos of overexposed party guests with a black background that can result from using flash. Flash is less ideal if you are trying to shoot discreetly to capture candid moments without intruding on the atmosphere. In this case it might be better to increase your ISO to a point where your photos are sharp but still with an acceptable amount of noise. If this is not possible, or if you want photos where people are looking at the camera you can get good results by combining flash with ambient light. If you have an external flash unit try bouncing the light using a bounce card or bounce off the ceiling or a nearby wall to soften the light. Be aware that a dark or coloured surface may introduce a colour cast into your image although this can often be adjusted in post-processing. Use a slow shutter speed to capture the ambient light for an even exposure. If you are using your camera's built-in flash, dial down the flash compensation or set your camera to party or night portrait mode.


image with flash

Using Flash

image in ambient

Without flash (set to higher ISO)

When you are photographing children or (party) animals, you will often get better photos if you can see the world from their point of view. Be prepared to kneel, sit or even lay on the ground to capture their expressions and memories from an equal perspective. Most of all, don't forget to have fun and this will come through in your photos!

Events and Party photography tips

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