Capturing emotion – both digitally or on film – is an art. Whether you specialize in portrait photography, photojournalism, sports photography or any other photography genre that involves photographing people either on their own or interacting with others – the ability to capture a genuine emotion in a single frame, is a skill that sets apart masterful photographers from novices.
As a professional event photographer, you too are hired not to merely record the key moments and guests, but also to help tell the story of the event. Clients want to be able to relieve the joy, excitement, and energy they felt on the day every time they look at their photos; so, if your portfolio includes photos that capture in-the-moment emotions – it’s going to boost your appeal significantly.
Happily, even if you don’t think you’ve quite nailed the nuances of emotional photography yet, there are ways to improve your ability to identify opportunities for emotion-filled photos.
Here are a few tips to help you master the art of emotional photography at your next event photoshoot:
1. Get to know your subjects: Before you start shooting, take some time to get to know your subjects. Find out about their background to get a sense of who they are as people, and ask them about what the event means to them and what highlights they’re most looking forward to. This will help you better understand their ‘emotional priorities’ on the day and capture them more accurately in your photos.
2. Look for moments of genuine connection: When people are interacting with each other, look for moments of connection between them. These can be subtle gestures or expressions that show how much they care about each other or how much fun they’re having together. To find those moments, however, you’ll need to be proactive and move around at the event to place yourself (subtly, not intrusively) near people as they interact with each other.
3. Capture natural, candid moments: Candid shots are often more powerful than posed ones because they show people in their natural state without any posing or direction from you as the photographer. Look for moments when people aren’t aware that you’re taking their photo and capture those special moments when they’re being themselves without any pretense or posing for the camera.
4. Review the event agenda in advance to anticipate key moments: Ask your client to provide you with the event’s agenda in advance, to help you identify opportunities for emotional displays. For example, if you know when the speeches are, you can position yourself at the optimal angle to capture audience reactions as they happen; or if there are other key moments specified in the agenda you think are bound to trigger emotion from guests, make sure you’re where you need to be to capture it.
5. Use natural light and experiment with different angles: Natural light is one of the best ways to bring out emotion in photos. Try shooting outdoors or near windows so that you can take advantage of natural light and create beautiful images with lots of depth and texture. Also don’t be afraid to experiment with different perspectives: try shooting from above or below, from close up or far away – whatever works best for the situation at hand.
6. Look for opportunities between poses: Sometimes when people finish posing for a photo and relax back into their non-posed selves, the way they interact with each other can be more poignant or entertaining than the posed shot itself. So, keep snapping even when they’re no longer expecting it, because it might just yield some of the best emotion-filled shots of the day.
7. Don’t forget about the pre and post-event photo ops: Sometimes pre-event and post-event activities also provide opportunities to capture emotion-filled moments that will help you tell a more complete story with your photos. For example, if there are tender moments while getting ready for the event, or funny mishaps, etc. Ask your client if it’s okay for you to document the behind-the-scenes aspect of the event too, to give them a more rounded account of the day.
While it’s true that sometimes, you need to be lucky to be at the right place at the right time during an event to capture moments of genuine emotion, relying on luck alone might mean you miss out on many of those moments and have little to show your clients at the end of the event in terms of emotion-filled photos.
By following the seven tips above, however, you’ll be better positioned to identify, anticipate, and capture emotion in your photos more effectively, and deliver beautiful event images that your clients will cherish forever.