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I like to think doing photography is more than just having a nice expensive camera and taking pictures at random.  You got to have skills, some knowledge, at least the basics.  My photography skills with years of practice and implementation, a lot of positive and negative feedback which molded the way I shoot.

Over the years I acquired the knowledge through trial and error, practice, a whole lot of reading, and a great deal of listening to others that had the photography knowledge I wanted.  And if its 50 year photography veteran or a 16 year old kid in school, listen because you don’t know everything, and that veteran can teach you the basics, and that kid could share something new and creative.  You never know.

Some concepts you might want to consider when shooting any event.

~ Not every event is the same.

A retirement ceremony is not the same as a wedding, so it’s good to know before showing up what kind of event it is.  You don’t want to show up to an event thinking you are attending a back yard family get together, when it’s more of a business event with senators and congressmen attending.  Try to shoot many different events even if you have to do it for free.  Had a chance to shoot a concert with bands for the first time, for free.  Found I made some mistakes, that I was better ready for at another event, and made a connection with a new band that needed band member shots.  You never know.


~ Think of every shot as a story.

And what will this photo tell the viewer?  What will the person come away from the image?  If the image is of a single person, what emotion would you like to come through, if you can effect it, do so.  What about this image of the person is going to best show through?

If the image is of bride walking down the aisle, it should be conveyed that way in whatever artistic way you can or want to.

Try to crop out unnecessary stuff like things in the background that only detract from the main focus of the image, find the “Star” or model of your photo and chip away at the rest that doesn’t go with the image.

~ I look at an event as one big story

I snap pictures that will tell the whole story from start to finish and each individual shot is a story in itself.  To me it’s like the story board of a movie or Pixar film.  They have a bunch of small images all in order telling a story, on a large board.  Keep that in mind when photographing an event.

~ If the shot won’t portray a person in the best possible way don’t keep it, delete it.

The exception might be, if the person is showing a negative or unflattering emotion like crying, the emotion that comes through might be worth saving the image.  If their eyes are closed, they have a weird mouth expression, whatever, if you even have to question it, just dump it, because the person in the photo looking at it will be ten times more critical about themselves.  So it’s a waste just to keep it.


~ When people are eating put your camera down.

If you’re a new photographer and don’t know this or a guest at an event and you see the photographer snapping pictures or not photographing you will know why.  It’s really rare that person will look good while eating, exception cutting cake at a wedding.  And people want to relax at the event, popping a flash around is too distracting for them to enjoy their meal.

~ Other photographers at the event you are there to shoot.

Say hi and work together.  When taking a photo of a group of people, you don’t want 5 people looking to the right at one photographer and 6 people looking left at you.  Come together as one unit if you will, you can piggy back off them or vice versa.  At the very least, take turns shooting from a center point.  Bottom like come to the same spot and both shoot from there, even if you have to move to them because you know better.

~ Engage your client or clients.

When working with families, I try to talk to them as a group, cracking jokes as best I can, and if I come away looking goofy but they laugh or smile a little better, mission accomplished.  Along those same lines, find one person in the group you can engage in and talk to, the other people there will have their attention on you the photographer and will listen to what you are telling them, if you’re lucky and good.  If working with one model or subject, try to explain some things to them, like angling their shoulders to the camera, or a foot positioning that will enhance the photos they are about to take.  I could go on about all the dynamics of working with large crowds or individuals, but that’s for a whole other post.


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