Updated: Nov 14, 2018
Parties are my favorite event to shoot. When you shoot these events, there are a lot of things your going to want to know before you get your party pants on and head to the venue. Here are the 10 tips you need to know when shooting a good party.
1) Show Up Early!
Nothing is worse than missing the party. Missing out on great opportunities for shots is the worst mistake you can make. You can’t hit a home run if you don’t show up to the game. I like to show up close to an hour early. You can test your settings, look for places to take good shots and make sure you speak with the host to verify your shot list or to go over what shots to get.
2) Dress Like the Man/Woman
Get a haircut. Shave your scruffy beard and grab your nicest suit. By dressing the part you portray your professionalism and will make the partygoers more comfortable when approached. This is not your time to shine or wear your giant sombrero. Dress for the event, not over the top, be classy and simple.
3) Establishing shots
Show the viewer where you are. Take pictures of the promo signs, the building, the dance floor, the bar, and the décor. In my opinion a wide-angle lens is necessary in this situation. A lot of parties are hosted and sponsored by venues that will sometimes use your photos for promotional content. These could be your most important shots. When shooting parties, try getting the line outside the venue. Make your client look good.
4) Don’t be weird, Have fun!
You have to understand that you’re also bringing your energy to this party. Get excited and keep that same energy when you show up to the event. Not going to lie, sometimes I even dance my way through the dance floor while going from shot location to shot location. Although you will get a lot of people more than willing to take pictures and be excited, some people act unnatural in front of the camera. So blend in and relax, It’s a party.
5) Get an External flash
Using the built in flash will leave your photos with harsh and unnatural lighting. It also can develop hot spots in photos that will decrease the quality of your image. Invest in a mounted flash or external set. These options are more manageable and you can adjust the settings on the fly. With an external flash, you can avoid washed out faces and capture moments in a more natural lit setting.
6) “Pick up lines”
A lot of the times it's what you say that earns you great opportunity for pictures. Knowing what tones to use and when to approach is crucial. Don't cut off conversations. Try to time ease drop and time it up. Match the energy of the group. Think about how you’re going to welcome the photo. This isn’t a sales pitch; don’t start with your name and your company. Just say something simple like, “Hey guys how we doing? Lets get everybody in for a photo!” To create more creative shots use lines like, “Everyone cheers your drinks and say whiskey!” Be creative, be outgoing and most of all be confident. Act like your supposed to be there.
7) DJ Shots
Every good party has a DJ. Making sure you get some good DJ shots is ideal for a complete album. Try to use a wide-angle lens while standing behind the DJ. Get the crowd in the shot and make sure everyone looks like they are having a good time. Get some close ups of the DJ table and utilize the lights. Use the stage or platform as a ladder to get higher angled shots from above.
8) Dance Floor Shooting
Wide-angle lens is ideal for these shots also. Make sure you take multiple shots, a lot of the times people are caught with weird facial gestures that will not be appealing in a picture. By taking multiple you can make sure you have back ups of great angled shots. If you recognize a song that has certain dance parts, make sure your ready for that “whip and nay nay”.
9) Shot Variety
Another big mistake you can make is giving your client an album of all the same kind of pictures. Use different focal lengths. Find different lighting within the venue and add some variety to your shots. Get some macro images of décor or product shots of sponsors. Take pictures of the food and drinks. So don’t be afraid to try different stuff.
10) Organized Album
A picture album is supposed to tell a story. You want to bring your client from the start of the night to the end giving the viewer a full experience of feeling like they were actually at this party. When presenting your album, make sure the pictures are in chronological order. No one is going to have time to admire your photos if they are trying to piece together the timeline of the night in the process. In addition to the order of photos, the editing style should have no continuity issues. Over editing photos stick out like a sore thumb in albums and takes away the clean look of an organized album. Keep it simple!