When shooting indoor events you have no control over the lighting whatsoever. The venue may have loads of windows and be lit entirely by ambient light, the venue may be full of tungsten lamps and illuminated by these, or fluorescent tubes may provide the light. Whatever light source there is it is important you know how to set your camera to ensure you are not plagued by ugly colour casts. The first thing to consider when shooting indoor events is the lighting and manually set the white balance accordingly.
When shooting indoor events you need to be mobile, so you can work the room and take photos of different subjects at different locations. Since you need to travel light and be mobile large studio strobes have no place in an indoor lighting setup. I use speed lights to provide all of my indoor event photography lighting, and it works perfectly for me. Even though speed lights are small they are plenty powerful enough to provide all the light I need to take the type of photos I want to take
The speed light I use for my indoor event photography lighting is the Godox Ving. There was a time when I used the Canon 600EX however due to an unforeseen breakage and a lack of funds to buy another 600EX I ended up buying a Godox Ving on a whim, and boy am I glad I did. The Ving isn’t as sturdy as the Canon 600EX but it is still well made and durable. The Ving is powerful, full of features (including ETLL and HSS modes as well as manual of course) and it is intuitive and user friendly. I was so impressed with the Godox Ving speed light I ended up buying more (for a 3 ganged speed light set up – obviously not for indoor event photography) and all of the extra Godox flashes cost less than a single Canon 600EX. If you want an affordable speed light that does everything you need it to, and some, the Godox Ving is just what you are looking for. Check out this review of the Godox Ving to see just how good it is.
"The Godox Ving speed light is excellent for indoor event photography"
Read any tutorial about flash photography and all of them will say that “manual flash is best. Using automatic flash is for beginners and not professional photographers….. blah blah blah) but I never use manual flash for my indoor event photography lighting. I was asked to be the official photography at a local event many years ago, and at that time I had the “only beginners use automatic flash” attitude. I tried to be a “proper photographer” and manually set the flash power but I really struggled. I did manage to nail the odd one or two shots but the majority were unusable, and because the flash to subject distance kept changing the photos were under/over exposed and I couldn’t recover them using my Photoshop Elements editing software.
My first proper event photography gig taught me that automatic or ETTL flash is best to provide indoor event photography lighting, as adjusted by flash exposure compensation of course. If you want to succeed with indoor event photography learning to use your flash in ETTL properly is crucial. Using the flash in ETTL mode correctly isn’t a case of pressing the ETTL button and firing the shutter, and there is a bit more to it. In order to use ETTL flash correctly you need to know when to apply flash exposure compensation, whether to apply positive or negative flash exposure compensation and how much flash exposure compensation to apply. Becoming competent with ETTL flash takes a lot of time and practice, but once you’ve mastered it you will see a significant improvement in your flash photos.
There are times when taking the flash off camera is essential to get the shot, but this is not the case with indoor event photography and you can leave the flash on the camera. In fact, my go to set up for indoor event photography lighting is keeping my Godox Ving on the camera’s hot shoe. When the flash is on the hot shoe I am mobile and can work the room quickly and efficiently, snapping as I go. This said, there are times during indoor event shoots when I will take the flash off camera in order create a different lighting effect.
When I take my flash off camera during indoor events I still keep it close to my person and will hand hold the flash. In my experience there is no need to position the flash huge distances away, and moving the flash an arm’s length from the camera achieves awesome indoor event photography lighting effects. With the flash this close to the camera I could fire it using an off-camera flash cord but I prefer to use some flash triggers instead. The flash cord is the cheaper option, but I find tethering the flash to camera cumbersome and the wire gets in my way. The flash triggers are more expensive, add more weight (but not too much) and means more equipment (and batteries) to carry around but it does provide the wireless solution, which works the best for me.
"The flash triggers I use for indoor event photography are the Yongnuo 622 triggers"
I use Yongnuo 622 flash trigger on my Godox Ving and the Yongnuo TX transmitter on the hot shoe of my Canon 7d. The Yongnuo flash triggers are an affordable alternative to the top end Pocket Wizards, and boy are they good. These flash triggers are reliable (misfires do not happen), easy to set up and use, and they also support ETTL, which as we have already established is essential for all indoor event photography lighting setups. If you want some top quality flash triggers that are tough, well made and reliable the Yongnuo 622 flash triggers are simply perfect.
Compared to my other setups my indoor event photography lighting setup is pretty small and, other than my Godox Ving speed lights (I use one at a time but carry three – I always carry two more just in case), the Yongnuo 622 flash triggers (read about the pros and cons here) and transmitter the only other bits of equipment I carry are light modifiers. Flash light can be harsh and the best way to avoid any hotspots is to soften the light with a modifier or two. The light modifiers I use when shooting events comprises a small speed light mounted soft box or a Stofen style cap, both of which is cheap and effective.
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.
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