Last weekend we held a small family party for my Granny's birthday. As per usual I had my camera out. I didn't take hundreds of photos but those I did were natural enough to make me happy and showed enough of the party atmosphere to please my Granny!
These are my tips for shooting at parties and other lovely summer events...
Capture the details before people arrive.
I think that the details really set the scene and give context to the event you are trying to photograph. I like to go around before the guests arrive and take a few snaps when everything is in place and ready to go.
Sort out your settings.
Capturing the details before the event can also be an ideal time to sort out the camera settings. I tend to always shoot on manual but if the weather is changeable (which as it is Britain, is quite likely), then I will choose the "aperture select" mode. This lets me select my f-stop which I put as low as possible to get the lovely blurry background but means I don't have to bother with getting the other settings correct as the camera sorts out those.
This is also the time to pop on your favourite lens!
Make the camera invisible.
I carry my camera everywhere. It is awkward for the first ten minutes however the guests soon forget you are photographing them, especially if you get long distance shots. The more pictures you are taking the more normal it becomes and you will get natural smiles and not poses.
Anticipate the moment.
I try and work out when the ideal picture will come. For instance here, I had the camera on my knee and was watching some of my family looking over an old photo. The jokes were flying and I started snapping, knowing that the laugh was on the way. The scene was already set up, it was just being in the right place at the right time and taking lots of shots.
Take lots of shots of the same scene.
Like above, I always figure I will have more chance of getting the photo I want, if I take lots of photos of that one scene. This is particularly true if there is a certain photo that you want to capture. As it was my Granny's birthday we wanted a picture of her cutting her cake. It made sense therefore to take lots of photos of that one event to make sure we got one we were happy with.
Call a name.
I love this technique and use it all the time. Place your camera up to your eye, focus on someone who isn't looking at you and then call their name. As they turn, snap the photo and the result is a relaxed and unposed shot.
Let someone else have your camera for a bit.
If all else fails let someone else have your camera for a bit, although the shots may not always be what you wanted...!
Do you have any tips for photographing a party? Do you prefer to have the camera or are you happier drink in hand, being photographed?