How to shoot Events Photography


I do a lot of events work throughout the year, and its mostly great fun! The venues are usually quite special, and the people attending are always up for some laughs. Its my job to make them look their best, and also capture the essence of the event and the mood of the occasion.

9 times out of 10 when I’m working at these functions, someone or more than one person, gets talking to me about my job, photography, the kit I use and how I do it. So today I thought I’d share some basics and explain how I approach a night like this. Firstly, I get my running order from the client and do a walk through of the venue so I can  work a few things out!

Its going to be dark, so we need additional light/s …. but we don’t want to blitz the available light out so much that we kill the feel and mood that’s there!?…. So we need to find a balance between the ambient light reading and our flash power. To put this simply… you need to expose for the ambient light (background available light) and then add in some foreground flash to light your main subjects nicely and ‘Freeze’ the action enough to keep it looking crisp! This is where having a camera with a good low light iso range comes into play. My ever faithful Nikon D3 is still great at low light level performance although its now 4 years old.

I always try to use some form of backlight for these events so its adds some drama and life to the background …. so I look around for the best places to set up shots. There were some key elements to this job that i needed to cover…

  • Establishing shots of the venue – in this case The Roundhouse at Camden, a fantastic event space!
  • Guests at the reception area – excitedly meeting friends, all dolled up wearing big smiles!! (Time to interact and smile lots myself too !)
  • Guests seated at their tables
  • Awards if any…
  • Dancing and partying

You need to be organised, plenty of spare batteries (as you will be hammering your flash)…… I also like to use a simple ‘speed Gobo’ bouncer from Honl Photo for my flash so that the light is ‘bounced light’ rather than direct (its just a bit softer and more flattering) …. experiment!

I also brought along my Elinchrom Ranger Quadra Kit (x2 lightweight, powerful and portable battery packs, x2 flash heads, x2 stands x2 brollies) so I could leave them set up on the top balcony ready for some cheeky group shots after dinner… guests are always more relaxed after a few drinks and then you can start to have some fun with them.

If you look at the info on each image, I have shown the EXIF data settings so you can see my exposure settings … I hope this has been helpful, but please ping me a comment if you have any questions! Ta. 🙂

CLICK ON THE IMAGES BELOW TO SEE AT CORRECT SIZE AND SHARPNESS.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Handheld, ISO 1100, F4.5, 1/50th Sec. Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Bounced Flash in TTL Mode +2/3 power

Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Handheld, ISO 1100, F4.5, 1/50th Sec. Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Bounced Flash in TTL Mode +2/3 power

Nikon D3, Handheld, ISO 3200, F5, 1/30th Sec, NO FLASH
Nikon D3, Handheld, ISO 3200, F5, 1/30th Sec, NO FLASH

Nikon D3, Handheld, ISO 1100, F5, 1/30th Sec, Flash on Manual Power +1/3.

Nikon D3, Handheld, ISO 1100, F5, 1/30th Sec, Flash on Manual Power +1/3.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Handheld, ISO 560, F5.6, 1/8th Sec. Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, 1 light to left front and 1 light to right front allowing even light, bounced into white brollies.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Handheld, ISO 560, F5.6, 1/8th Sec. Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, 1 light to left front and 1 light to right front allowing even light, bounced into white brollies.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Handheld, ISO 560, F5.6, 1/8th Sec. Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, 1 light to left front and 1 light to right front allowing even light, bounced into white brollies.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Handheld, ISO 560, F5.6, 1/8th Sec. Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, 1 light to left front and 1 light to right front allowing even light, bounced into white brollies.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Handheld, ISO 560, F5.6, 1/8th Sec. Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, 1 light to right to give side light, bounced into white brolly.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Handheld, ISO 560, F5.6, 1/8th Sec. Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, 1 light to right to give side light, bounced into white brolly.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Handheld, ISO 560, F5.6, 1/8th Sec. Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, 1 light to left front and 1 light to right front allowing even light, bounced into white brollies.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Handheld, ISO 560, F5.6, 1/8th Sec. Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, 1 light to left front and 1 light to right front allowing even light, bounced into white brollies.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Handheld, ISO 560, F7.1, 1/6th Sec. Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Bounced Flash in TTL Mode +2/3 power.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Handheld, ISO 560, F7.1, 1/6th Sec. Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Bounced Flash in TTL Mode +2/3 power.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Handheld, ISO 560, F5.6, 1/8th Sec. Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, 1 light to left front and 1 light to right front allowing even light, bounced into white brollies.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Handheld, ISO 560, F5.6, 1/8th Sec. Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, 1 light to left front and 1 light to right front allowing even light, bounced into white brollies.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Handheld, ISO 560, F5.6, 1/8th Sec. Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, 1 light to left front and 1 light to right front allowing even light, bounced into white brollies.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Handheld, ISO 560, F5.6, 1/8th Sec. Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, 1 light to left front and 1 light to right front allowing even light, bounced into white brollies.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Handheld, ISO 560, F5.6, 1/13th Sec. Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Bounced Flash in TTL Mode +1/3 power.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Handheld, ISO 560, F5.6, 1/13th Sec. Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Bounced Flash in TTL Mode +1/3 power.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Handheld, ISO 1100, F3.2, 1/100th Sec. Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, NO FLASH

Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Handheld, ISO 1100, F3.2, 1/100th Sec. Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, NO FLASH

Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Handheld, ISO 560, F5.6, 1/13th Sec. Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Bounced Flash in TTL Mode +1/3 power.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Handheld, ISO 560, F5.6, 1/13th Sec. Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Bounced Flash in TTL Mode +1/3 power.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Handheld, ISO 1100, F4.5, 1/50th Sec. Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Bounced Flash in TTL Mode +2/3 power

Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Handheld, ISO 1100, F4.5, 1/50th Sec. Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Bounced Flash in TTL Mode +2/3 power

Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Handheld, ISO 1100, F3.2, 1/100th Sec. Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, NO FLASH.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Handheld, ISO 1100, F3.2, 1/100th Sec. Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, NO FLASH.

Camden Roundhouse, Event Photography by Simon Harvey - Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Handheld, ISO 1100, F4.5, 1/40th Sec. Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Bounced Flash in TTL Mode +2/3 power

Camden Roundhouse, Event Photography by Simon Harvey – Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Handheld, ISO 1100, F4.5, 1/40th Sec. Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Bounced Flash in TTL Mode +2/3 power

Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Handheld, ISO 560, F5.6, 1/15th Sec. Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Bounced Flash in TTL Mode +1/3 power.

Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Handheld, ISO 560, F5.6, 1/15th Sec. Nikon D3, 24-70mm Lens, Bounced Flash in TTL Mode +1/3 power.

The Finishing Touch


A quickie here… i recently did some event pics for a great client ~ Mr David Key of Finishing Touch Events at a wonderful venue… Lincolns Inn – the Barrister capital of London and the UK. David runs a great event, and had me on hand to capture the guests enjoying themselves… i just wanted to show you the beautiful old banqueting hall … what a venue! 🙂

This guy was once of the best magicians i have ever seen …

I had a lot of guests to get into a group shot, so went on a 2 min scout of the surrounding area and found this great clearing with a stone staircase in front of it that i was able to get upto and shoot down. This is also a good way of making sure all faces are brightly lit as they have to look skywards …