Photography Seminar: Taking better photos at your events

CamerasOn Tuesday, January 25th, the Social Media Communicators met with photographer Katherine Taylor for a session on taking better photographs. Many members of the group are tasked with creating new content for their websites, including going to department events and taking shots of speakers and attendees. We thought it might be a good idea to bring in a professional photographer to provide some tips for the group. Katherine provided some suggestions on making the best of your environment, as well as some things to look for in composition:

Tips for Event Photography

  • Pack well: Extra batteries, memory, and accessories all in one place, easily accessible
  • Create a shot list ahead of time: Group shots, details of the event. Make up the list beforehand so you don’t find yourself missing shots afterward
  • When you arrive, assess the scene: Lighting conditions? Where will subjects be? Determine approximate camera settings ahead of time and test, test, test

  • Be aware of your backgrounds: Distracting details behind the scene? Can you change your angle to avoid them? Are there objects that may interfere with the subject’s head (poles, etc.)? Be aware of auto focus’s tendency to grab onto repeating horizontal & vertical patterns — fences, building structure
  • Auto focus is your friend: Fast and reliable. Remember to focus on the eyes of your subject.
  • 1/60 shutter speed is minimum for stopping motion in low light: Do you need to accommodate for this with your camera’s settings?
  • Photographing groups: Take LOTS of photos — you will not catch blinks or distracted group members on your camera’s screen.
  • If using off-camera flash, try bouncing it off a ceiling or wall: Makes photo subjects look less harshly lit; creates different feel for the shot
  • Try to shoot people at eye level: This applies most to children — works great to kneel down to their perspective
  • Shoot details as well as overalls of the scene: Think of purposes in your marketing materials.
  • Back up your data: Use a uniform file naming format and back things up regularly (external hard drives are affordable and a great asset). Keep backups in a different location from the computer itself.

Photo Composition Ideas

  • Use diagonal lines to break up your frame
  • Do not center your subject in the frame. Try using the Rule of Thirds or the Golden Mean as a guide.
  • Use clean uncluttered backgrounds
  • Don’t allow background items to intersect your subject (fence posts, telephone poles, branches, etc.)
  • Use selective depth of field to emphasize the subject
  • Try shooting from different angles: Lay on the ground, shoot straight down on subjects, etc.
  • Build layers within your image so there is a foreground, middle and background

Katherine also discussed equipment recommendations, which we will outline shortly in a follow-up post.

Image courtesy Steve Keys on Flickr.

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