Indoor event photography is a great way to make money with your camera, however it isn’t easy. If you are looking to enter the word of indoor event photography, or improve your current indoor event photography skills the following tips and tricks may be useful………………
1. Indoor event photography tips – Use a zoom lens
When it comes to lenses for indoor event photography a zoom lens is the way forward. I have tried using prime lenses in the past and the fixed focal length, and having to “zoom in and out” with your feet) is a real tie and makes framing and composing more difficult than it need be. I appreciate there is the argument that prime lenses have higher image quality than zoom lenses and whilst this may have been the case a few years back times have changed. The image quality of modern day zoom lenses is exceptionally good and easily on par with fixed focal length prime lenses. Zoom lenses are versatile and are the way forward for indoor event photography.
The zoom lenses I use for indoor event photography consist of the Canon 16 – 35 f4L IS and the Canon 70 – 200 F2.8L IS, and the lens I use depends on the event I am shooting.
If the indoor event is a corporate or party style event I use the Canon 16 – 35 f4L IS lens. This lens is small, it is light, it is discreet and as it is a wide angle lens it is great for group shots and individual portraits alike. The Canon 16 – 35 f4L IS lens is tough, durable and the image quality is simply superb and it is a go to lens of mine.
If the indoor event is a sporting event I use the Canon 70 – 200 f2.8L IS lens. Okay, this lens is big, heavy and damn expensive, but the buildquality is bulletproof and the image quality is simply awesome.
2. Indoor event photography tips – Use a speed light
A speed light is essential for indoor event photography and I always make sure I have at least two for every indoor event I shoot. It is impossible to know what the lighting is going to be like at the venue, and even once this is known you, as the event photographer, have no control over it.
It is not possible for there to be too much light at indoor events, however there is always the possibility of insufficient light which is where the speed light comes in. With a speed light you will be able to add a burst of additional light as and when it is needed.
The speed light I use for indoor event photography is the Godox Ving, and it is a speed light I highly recommend. The Ving is powerful, it has ETTL mode, it is user friendly and intuitive, and it is a fraction of the cost of the top end speed lights, like the Canon 600EX or Nikon SB900.
3. Indoor event photography tips – Gel the flash
Indoor venues will have their own lights, and as the event photographer you will have no control over them whatsoever. The type of lighting is usually tungsten or fluorescent and you need to be comfortable working with these.
Whenever I take photos at indoor events I gel the flash to match the type of lighting in the venue, and then set the white balance on the camera to match. Leaving the flash un-gelled is likely to result in some horrible colour casts that are impossible to sort out, even with photo editing software, like the Photo Shop Elements I use.
4. Indoor event photography tips – Use the speed light in ETTL
When taking indoor event photos the flash to subject distance is never consistent and constantly changes. Using the speed light in manual mode simply isn’t feasible and doing so will result in a lot of missed opportunities and shots. When taking indoor event photos I set the speed light in ETTL (i.e. automatic) mode, which my Godox Ving can do, and then tweak the power using flash exposure compensation as necessary
5.Indoor event photography tips – Use a light modifier
Flash light can be harsh and create nasty hot spots. Using a light modifier to soften the light and reduce the harshness will reduce the likelihood of hot spots therefore you will always need a light modifier (or two) for indoor event photography.
Off camera flash is a real faff at indoor events, although you can use it, so I usually keep the speed light on camera. The light modifiers I use comprise the stofen style speed light caps because they are small, light, discreet and work very well.
6. Indoor event photography tips – Shoot in burst mode
The smallest change in facial expression, body position etc. can turn a good photo in to a great photo and the only way to catch these small movements is to shoot in burst mode and fire off several frames in quick succession. The other advantages in shooting with burst mode is the chances of tack sharp photos increases and so does the keeper rate. Burst mode is the way forward with indoor event photography.
7. Indoor event photography tips – Shoot in a semi-automatic mode
There isn’t the time to set the exposure manually taking event photos, and you have to act quickly. Whenever I shoot indoor events I always shoot a semi-automatic mode (i.e. aperture priority if I want to control the depth of field and shutter priority if I want to control movement) and let the camera sort out the other variable. I then intentionally over/under expose as necessary to nail the exposure.
8.Indoor event photography tips – Dress for the occasion
Dressing for the occasion is very important, yet it is something that is often overlooked. Dressing for the occasion means you will blend in to the background, fit in with the crowd and won’t draw attention to yourself – which makes the photography easier, especially the candid photos.
Before I go to any indoor event to take photos I ask the organisers about the dress code, and make sure I follow it. If it’s black tie, I wear a dinner jacket. If it’s lounge suits, I wear a full suit. If it’s smart/casual, I dress smart. I prefer to be over dressed than underdressed so will always go smart over a dress down/casual look. It also looks more professional too – and looking the part leads to more paid photography gigs too.
9. Indoor event photography tips – Don’t delete any photos
The LCD screen only gives an indication of the photos taken and should never be used to assess what shots to keep and what shots to delete. When I first started out I relied on the LCD screen and during a corporate head shot shoot I used the screen to assess when I had “the” photo of the employees. Many of the shots were soft and out of focus, and I had to go through the embarrassment of having to re-do the shoot and use some lame excuse (to save my reputation) for doing so.
That failed shoot taught me to take more shots, even if I think I have nailed the photo, and also to never delete any shots during a shoot, and this is what I do when I am taking event photos.
10. Indoor event photography tips – Keep shooting
When it comes to shooting an event it is impossible to know what is going to work and what won’t work. Additionally, you never get a second chance and once an opportunity is gone it gone. To make sure I don’t miss any opportunities I make sure I keep shooting throughout the entire event. It is better to take too many photos than not enough, and since digital photography is cheap (it only requires battery power and memory – so I make sure I have spare batteries and loads of SD cards) I end up taking way more photos than I need to.
The downside of this is that I need to spend more time in front of the computer looking in to which shots to use and which shots to delete, but I prefer to do this and ensure I have some corkers, rather than taking fewer shots, spending less time in front of the computer and having mediocre shots.
11. Indoor event photography tips – Go candid
I am a great fan of candid photography and there are many times when the candid photos from a shoot are better than the posed photos. Many people don’t like having their photo taken, many people will play up to the camera and many people shy away from the camera. Very few people act naturally when they have a lens aimed at them, which is why candid shots work so well. If people are unaware they are being photographed they behave naturally, and these natural photos are often the best.
I always take posed photos at indoor events, the event organisers always want them, but I also take a lot of off the cuff and candid style photos too.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.