(MFKN) TIPS: How To Shoot Artistic Event Photography

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Hello everyone! It’s about time I talked about tips for shooting artistic event photography. This is actually one of my favorite forms of photography. Not only does it get me into cool places for free, but the night can go anywhere (especially since I’m an adventurous person). Shooting events can turn into a form of art rather than just documenting everything that one sees. It really comes down to how you see things, and how you decide to capture it. For this article, I’m going to use my photos from FURCON2016. One of my favorite events that I’ve been to for a while. The first time I went I didn’t have my camera with me, but I vowed to bring my camera the next time I would go. I’ll be writing about the different ways you can creatively capture the night. Also, reminding you of the lessons you’ve already learned that can be applied in this sort of photography.

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1. Creative Portraits

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There’s more than one way to take someone’s portrait at an event. You can use your creative side to enhance the moment by playing around with your subject, and angles while bracketing. When you point a camera at someone they’ll either shy away or start to pose. If they don’t want their picture taken, just walk away (don’t be offended; some people are shy). If they don’t mind (or they LOVE it), start shooting like crazy. More likely than not, they’re going to do something picture worthy in about 60 seconds. It’s exciting when someone is modeling for you on the fly, but keep your camera steady, and be aware of your frame (no random people, or objects in the foreground or background unless it works). When you’re done, show your subject some of the photos you took and hand them your card (they’ll be looking you up for the photos).  Remember not to stay with one person too long. After you get “the shot”, stop. There’s plenty more to be photographed.

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2. Know When To Ask Permission

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Most of the time you don’t need verbally to ask every single person to take a photo of them. They either get out of your way or start acting silly when they see a camera. However, for this photograph, I did. An up close and personal shot of someone’s badge clipped onto their nipple ring… yeah, you should ask. Get ready to hear “sure, just don’t have my face in the photo”. After you capture the shot, show the photos to them so they see that you’ve respected their wishes. This is what is known as “The Party Floor”. To this day I have yet to see anyone with a camera up there besides myself. The fact that I was polite and professional helped me get into a lot of underground parties (this is the aftermath of building trust). When you build trust you go a long way, so be very respectful of how your subject does (and DOESN’T) want to be seen.

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3.  Know When To NOT Ask Permission

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This one is a bit tricky but it’s essential for documenting the realest moments without ruining them. The above photo is someone preparing a line of molly to snort. I did not ask this person if I could take their photo. Instead, I quietly snapped these pictures, while keeping the subject’s anonymity (you can’t even see what their bracelet says). If I HAD asked, I would have never gotten the shot. Sometimes, you’ve got to turn into a bit of photojournalist to get some crazy shots (but always keep the subjects anonymous). You didn’t go out to ruin someone’s public image (like a REAL journalist wouldn’t mind doing), you just want to get some great shots. Good rule of thumb, pretend that the person in the photograph is you. How little of them in the shot is needed? Zooming in for framing, and a respectable distance works well with this tactic.

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4. Creative Atmospheric Shots

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Showing the viewers what was there is just as important as showing who was there. It’s telling a story, and that’s key for artistic event photography. With art, it’s all about context, and you can’t have context without a story. So here, I was in a hotel room of a fellow FURCON Furry taking pictures of the scene. I wanted to show a bit of the “pre-party night chaos” while showing a glimpse of the city (downtown San Jose). These types of shots help set the mood of the series. It also shows a non-manipulated scene for the viewer to study while creating a level of curiosity as to what each part of the photo means.

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5. Don’t Forget The Details

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Oftentimes, there are little details within your surroundings that help tell the story for the viewer. Here you see a lost paw in the middle of a plastic wrapped floor. The fact that the person in the top right corner is turned away from the paw suggests to the viewer that this is a normal occurrence (which it was). Photographing things such as this shows the viewer real moments that often illustrate the the event more clearly. You don’t have to see the person who had dropped this paw to know that they were probably intoxicated. Details that tell a story without showing what had actually before are key photos to have in your series.

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6. First-Person Point Of View

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Taking pictures from a first-person point of view is another way of enveloping the audience into the story. It’s all technically first-person point of view, but there’s a difference between just snapping shots as an event photographer and snapping shots so the viewer can live vicariously through you. For example, I took this photo right as I was about to open to door to a room on “The Party Floor”. If I were just photographing the scene, I would have had furries pose right in front of it, or a shot of the entire door. This way, the viewer is living the moment with you.

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8. Remember “The Rule Of Thirds”

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Remembering how to frame up a shot is extremely important when trying to do creative photography. It makes the photograph more aesthetically pleasing the eye, and brings the whole series together nicely. This photo is a little off center, but you can clearly see what I was going for. “The Rule of Thirds” can (and should) be used when photographing the event.

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9. Also, “Leading Lines”

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Do remember to capture good shots with leading lines. This is another tactic for shooting more interesting photos. You can use practically anything to create leading lines as long as it works. By the way, “Raptor Jesus” says “Hi!”

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10. Don’t Be A Stiff! HAVE FUN!

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This is a serious tip. Have some fun! People will be more drawn to you (and your camera) and you’ll likely get more exciting shots of the event. This will also help with the “point of view” shots. No one’s going to want to live vicariously through your photos if they look boring. Explore the scene, go in that room (if it looks safe and is okay), run around. It’s also nice to let loose a little bit while working (just don’t overdo it).

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Alright! I hope this helps you get more creative with event photography. If you have any questions or suggestions/tips of your own, feel free to contact me! 🙂

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