It’s funny how yesterday at Rey’s 60th surprise birthday party I often got asked if I was nervous – and I wasn’t. You see, when it comes to photography there are certain times where we only get one shot (no pun intended).
Sure when I started out I’d get antsy or nervous before a gig (such as a wedding) but after a while you know what to expect – and most importantly – how to use your camera in any shooting condition.
Truth be told I’m never worry free at any given job. In fact I’m more concerned about breaking equipment or having things stolen.
But in this case I was amongst friends and family that knew I was a professional photographer so I felt like there were high expectations – which led to me feeling like I had to meet or exceed those expectations.
It’s much like the time I had to take headshots for the staff over at Illusion Photo Studio in the Bronx. I knew they were watching to see how I was working things and in a previous blog post I wrote:
“I’m trying to think of a good analogy but it feels awkward when you know the other person is scrutinizing your every move. But no matter what your situation – you can always learn from other people. They showed me a few of their techniques and I showed them the Mikey Colon way of shooting portraits.
To me photography is all about having fun and showing my clients a good time. And part of having fun is cracking jokes and getting people to do silly stunts. If you can get people to laugh (instead of saying cheese) you’ll be able to capture genuine expressions!”
Here are some photos that I captured of the staff…
But all that being said it all comes down to experience and being prepared. By reading this post I’ll share some tips on how I approach shooting events.
RECON THE PLACE AND THE TIME
Always be sure to know what you’re walking into – that way you’ll know what gear to bring. In this case I knew it was going to take place outdoors which meant I didn’t have to bring a lot of lighting equipment (since the party was from 4-8pm).
I didn’t have the time to visit The Lutze so I went to Google Maps on my phone and took a look at the photos. But when it comes to weddings I always make the time to physically visit the location.
That way I can gather inspiration and most importantly come up with a plan for the day of the wedding.
I ❤️ CANDID PHOTOS (AND SO DO MY CLIENTS)
For me – nothing beats candid photos! People are typically uncomfortable having their photo taken which can lead to awkward photos. But if you shoot from a distance they won’t be aware of the camera.
Plus you’ll get genuine expressions (as opposed to asking people to smile or look happy).
Going in I knew I wanted to capture a lot of candid photos (especially when Rey was going to make his entrance), so I decided to bring my 70-200mm telephoto lens to snipe candid shots from a distance.
And speaking of candid – here’s a shot a buddy of mine took while we were out in Acadia National Park. Had I known he was taking this shot I would have moved the bag and tripod, lol. But here’s what the 70-20mm lens looks like so you can get an idea…
Sometimes it annoys my wife that I prefer to shoot tight. The reason being is if I were to shoot wide – it can be very distracting to the viewer and there’d be “too much stuff” going on.
By shooting nice and tight you get rid of the distractions…
TRY TO AVOID DAPPLED LIGHT
When shooting outdoors try to avoid dappled light as it’s not very pleasing. When you take a photo of someone under a tree you get what’s called “dappled light”.
Your best bet is to have them stand somewhere else where it’s fully shady or in full sun. Perhaps you’ve never noticed this before – but now it’ll start to annoy you too!
WATCH OUT FOR DISTRACTING ELEMENTS
Always be on the lookout things that can be distracting. Sure you can Photoshop things out but the less time we spend on a computer, the more time we have to do other things.
Recomposing by crouching or having people move a bit usually does the trick. I don’t have a picture with something distracting (with people in the photo) to share; but here’s an example of what I’m talking about…
SHOOT A LOT OF PHOTOS!
When taking photos of people be sure to take at least 3. Especially when there are large groups of people as inevitably someone will either be blinking or not looking.
Sure that means you’ll have a lot more photos to go through at the end – but I’ll show you my secret weapon that makes me sift through hundreds of photos in no time!
But at the very least when taking photos of people – shoot at minimum 3 shots.
And when shooting large groups of people shoot as many as you can! Plus be sure to tell everyone that if they can’t see you – you can’t see them.
I knew there were a few people hiding in the back toward the left – and that’s because they didn’t want to be in the picture. I didn’t feel like calling them out – so I just took the photos anyway.
PHOTO MECHANIC – MY SECRET WEAPON
To edit my RAW files I use Adobe Lightroom. But unless you have a top of the line computer worth over $6,000 it’s going to be slow when it comes to ingesting photos.
In this case I was able to go through 950 photos (on my mid-range laptop) and select the files I wanted to edit in less than 20 minutes!
Photo Mechanic is used by every pro that shoots high volume events (as in the Olympics). Even if you shoot JPEG it will speed up your workflow immensely.
I’ll do a tutorial video for you guys in the future but take my word when I tell you it’s worth every penny. If you shoot dozens of events a year – it’ll save you countless hours.
SHOOT IN MANUAL MODE
Well this isn’t really a “tip” as you should be shooting in manual mode if you aren’t already. If for no other reason it’ll save you time down the road when you’re editing the files as you can edit one photo, copy the settings and paste it to the other images (as long as the light didn’t change).
ADD WARMTH TO YOUR IMAGES
Even thought it was a sunny day, conventional wisdom says to shoot in a daylight white balance. But for me on sunny days I like to shoot in a cloudy white balance to add some warmth to the photos.
Technically I shot in auto white balance because I knew I can change it later because I shot in RAW format. You can change the white balance later with no loss in quality.
Let’s take a look at how white balance can change the mood of your photos…
As shot (auto white balance)…
Daylight (conventional wisdom)…
And let’s say you happen to mess up your white balance because you’re running and gunning, if you shoot in RAW you can always fix it later. If you shoot in JPEG you’re pretty much screwed.
It’s a matter of preference but there’s something about warmer images that I really like. When it comes to portraits, weddings and outdoor family events, I’ll deliver warm images. But when it comes to corporate or non profit gigs, I’ll deliver images that look “normal” with the “correct” white balance.
THE CLASSIC LOOK
Once I was done editing the RAW files I created some black and white images. What I really like about monochromatic images is there’s less distraction (no color) and all you have is the composition thereby giving the brain less to process (if that makes any sense).
DELIVERING THE GOODS
So how do I deliver hundreds of photos? The answer is ShootProof! It’s a service that allows me to create public (or private) galleries.
I can also collect emails by having people put their email address so I can market to them in the future.
I can also offer free (or paid) digital downloads and I can even sell prints and canvases!
I’ll also create a future tutorial video in the future but if you’d like to give it a try click here: http://shpr.ws/puT.
WHAT YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY WILL SAY
It’s always fun seeing the photos people to chose to share on Facebook as it gives me feedback as to what resonates with them. Plus it’s always nice to see what people think of the photos as I don’t always get feedback.
Since I didn’t bring a tripod (I did consider it but I wanted to travel light) I wasn’t able to setup the camera and have a staff member take the photo with me in it. So I took a photo of myself…
And added it to one of the group shots. Can you find me?
And so far no one has noticed but as a joke I added myself front and center. I couldn’t help it – LOL!
THAT’S IT FOR NOW
I hope you had some fun reading this post and perhaps learned a thing or two. If your’e ever looking for a professional photographer to shoot your next event – you now know who to call!
I’m available in New York City, New Jersey, Boston & worldwide!