Oftentimes, you will come across a chance to photograph a unique or special event; be it cultural, social, commercial or sports or you may have an assignment involving one. Here are some basic guidelines to follow to ensure you get better photos :
0. DON’T FORGET TO CHARGE YOUR BATTERIES : Can’t stress the importance of this; and yes, even the most seasoned professionals sometimes forget they only have a near empty battery in their cameras or flashes.
1. Be Prepared : I can’t stress the importance of this, know what you are going to shoot before you actually start packing your gear or doing anything else. Research. Research and research. Ask or beg for details about when, where, and how the event is going to start and end.
2. Planning : Plan your shoot based on whatever information you have, you have no information and have to play by the ear? Try to do a short 5min recce of the location(s); have a mental picture of what is going to happen and where you should be to get your shot, what equipment you need to get the shot. Need to change to a different lens halfway through an event? Please have that easily accessible. Need to make heavy use of your flash? Have extra batteries readily available and/or better yet, have an extra flash with fully-charged batteries stowed away in a waist pouch.
3. DON’T FORGET TO CHARGE YOUR BATTERIES : And bring your batteries and memory cards. Enough said’
4. Follow the Rules, if any : Certain events will have certain rules you might have adhere to, i.e. what locations you can shoot from, whether flashes are allowed. Do note that flashes are a big NO-NO in most sporting events. DO NOT try to break or bend the rules, the fact that you might not get chased out and/or you are carrying a huge white lens doesn’t mean you can do what you please. Rules are there for a reason, you may not understand or agree with them but FOLLOW THEM. e.g. flashing an athlete in the face might not seem like a lot to you but you may have just broken his/her concentration. Photographers are at an event to photograph the event and NOT to disrupt it.
5. Shoot and GET OUT OF THE WAY : Never, ever stand in one spot for too long, especially if you have gotten a prime location for a good shot; once you have gotten a shot, move out of the way so that someone else may shoot; you may have a bigger lens or a press pass but you don’t own the place! If you do this, other photographers might do the same for you and allow you to shoot from locations that you normally can’t.
Besides that, moving around more will let you see more angles and find better shots.
6. Be alert and be observant : Always keep an eye on everything that is happening around you, watch what others are doing (especially more experienced photographers) and understand why they are doing it, you might learn a lot by doing so. Observe what on-lookers are looking at too, they might well spot things you are not aware of. Be alert of any potential safety issues too, oftentimes, inexperienced photographers get pushed onto fences or even drains when shooting.
7. The weather / environment can change : Particularly important for outdoor events, be prepared for sudden changes of weather… if it might rain, prepare raincoats or at least get ready to move to alternative shooting locations if it rains.
8. Water is important : Carrying a bottle of drinking water with you is always a wise thing to do when photographing.
9. Rest : There are 2 facets to this… (1) always have a good rest before an event and (2) always try to catch some rest (and I didn’t say sleep) during long events
10. Enjoy : Most importantly, enjoy yourself while photographing… trust me, your photos will come out better this way.