The party season has well and truly arrived and if you're planning on taking your camera along with you, here are a few party photography tips for you to remember:
It might be uncool in some circles to arrive first at a party but by doing so you'll have chance to capture shots of the decorated room and smaller details such as gifts, glasses lined up on tables, food and clean, set tables before the room gets destroyed by fellow party goers. When you're shooting your detail shots, get in close and fill the frame with your subject for more impact.
If you are meeting up with family and friends to exchange gifts at your party, take a few shots of them first before they are opened on Christmas day. Photo by davidburleson
Photograph The Group First
Just after people arrive at a party is usually when they look their best so grab them on the way in and get your group shot in the bag. If you don't, after a few drinks, a lot of dancing and general chit-chatting, you'll tend to find people are less co-operative. Don't be afraid to shout instructions out either as after all, you're the one behind the camera so know if people need to move closer together or if they need to switch places with someone.
Avoid Red Eye
Red eye's caused by the flash illuminating blood vessels in the eye and when the light bounces back, you get red eyes. Some people are more likely to get red eye than others and there are a few things you can do to try and stop them getting it. Many cameras feature red eye reduction or you can ask your subject to not look directly at the flash but this can mean it looks like they're no longer looking in your direction. If you get home and find some of your portraits have red eyes you can fix them in editing software such as Photoshop rather easily too. For more on red eye, take a look at this previous article: Red Eye
Sometimes, auto white balance can be fooled when shooting under artificial lighting indoors and your images can end up with a colour tinge. If you arrive early you'll be able to fire off a couple of test shots to check if you need to use one of the other white balance presets available or go the whole hog and manually set the white balance yourself.
Most parties, particularly at this time of year, happen indoors and unless you're shooting in the day time in a room that's well lit with natural light, lighting your shots can be a bit tricky. You can increase your ISO setting to quicken your shutter speeds but most of the time, you'll probably need some flash to light your scene. Flash guns which you can adjust the position of are better than your camera's built-in flash which can be a little harsh. If you do have to use it, try diffusing it so the effect isn't as strong.
People soon get bored of you posing so you can take their photo so take a candid approach instead. Not only will this keep everyone in a better mood but it will also give you shots which are more interesting and more dynamic.
Vary Your View
Changing your focal lengths and varying your angle will give you a collection of shots that are far more interesting to look at. If you're working with a large group of people see if there are any stairs you can claim so you can shoot down over the group. For candids, fill the frame with faces as well as shooting full length portraits that tell a story. Using other people as frames to focus attention on one person works particularly well too, even more so if you throw the other people slightly out of focus.
Shoot The Aftermath
If you've not had one drink too many, photograph the room once the last persons left. It can make an interesting comparison when sat against the shot which shows how the scene originally looked.
Finally, don't forget to enjoy yourself too and do spend a little time without your camera in your hands!
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