We’re excited to introduce event photographer, Tom Dingley as our guest blogger this month, sharing his top tips for capturing those perfect event photos…
Being an events photographer in a pandemic has been a challenge. After exhausting all the popular lockdown trends; baking, dying my hair, yoga at home, I turned my attention to using my ‘down-time’ to serious investment in my long-term career goals. A return to basics, I opened up my trusty portfolio, gave it a good polish and shared it wide and far. I am confident that when event planners and venues get back to business, my online identity will be shining with fresh examples of me and my work.
When lockdown restrictions began to ease in July, one area of my event work which started again was marriage proposals which was a lifesaver – literally. I am unfortunately one of the three million UK freelancers excluded from any government support. I, therefore, jumped at the chance to work, boosted by the renewed challenge. Proposals are short, sweet and immensely fun to shoot. It’s also very COVID secure as the planners set the room tailored to the intended’s exact wishes and then leave. The couple arrives, and it’s usually just me; sometimes a musician, and them, so it’s always under six people, and we all keep our distance.
It is both a personal and professional honour to photograph the precise moment two people become betrothed, something they will cherish forever. I take care to ensure I capture images of the decorated venue, the actual proposal and plenty of beautiful shots of the couple enjoying their special occasion. To get the perfect picture, I’ve even been known to hide behind trees in Battersea Park!
Since February, I have only photographed proposals, which has made me think about my craft and how working with just two people differs from capturing 800 guests arriving for a Christmas party back in the pre-pandemic days. What exactly do I do to get that perfect shot?
So here are some of my top tips for capturing those perfect event photos, whatever the size of the gathering:
It’s infectious! When you smile, it makes others feel at ease and brings out a natural smile in return. Not everyone loves having their photo taken; one of the skills that a professional photographer will pick up over the years is how to put people at ease in front of the camera. I have photographed many reluctant subjects and managed to get them smiling happily in no time. It’s all part of the job.
Short and Swift
Be friendly but brief “Can I get a quick photo?”. While saying this, I’m already gesturing where to stand, raising my camera, framing the image and making the shoot as smooth and quick as possible. The guests are usually keen to get to the drinks reception table, so don’t keep them hanging around too long!
Take a few frames, and keep engaging, “Smile for the camera, keep looking this way.” Don’t forget to say thank you and show them the direction they now need to go. Turn and ‘smile’ at the next guests arriving, ready for your next shot.
Take a mix of shots
When you think of photographs for your event, consider if you want posed or candid. Which is best? Posed shots are lovely for remembering the more formal aspects of your occasions. However, the candid shots, the unscripted moments with guests being unaware, are the fun ones, the ones that really tell the story. I always try to make sure I get the shots of guests laughing, enjoying moments, watching entertainment, interacting with each other. I steer clear of people eating or necking glasses of fizz – no one wants to have photos of themselves chewing; in fact, no one needs to see that!
The one skill that I believe you can’t teach, which is probably the most important, is natural anticipation. A good event photographer captures an event as it unfolds, there are no second chances, so the ability to anticipate a moment and get in position to photograph it is crucial.
Every event I work on is different, and there is always something new and exciting happening. That is what I love about my job. I’ve also had the pleasure of meeting and interacting with some amazing people – you never know who you are going to photograph next!
I hope my top tips give you some ideas for capturing some great images at your next event. I could go on, but please do get in touch if you have any questions about event photography for a forthcoming event.
My trusty camera and I are ready to work; spare batteries in one pocket and hand sanitiser in the other. If you need new venue photos, headshots for your company or you’re able to host small scale events and need some great quality images, let’s talk.
Twitter – @tomdingleyphoto
Instagram – @tomdingleyphoto
Facebook – @tomdingleyphotography