Parties and get togethers are a great excuse to take pictures of your friends. Everyone is together and having a good time (plus they’re rarely sober so their fun side comes out). But even though everyone’s having so much fun, most party pictures look the same. In an effort to make your next event more memorable, I’ve put together a few tips for getting better pictures at parties.
Change Things Up
It seems like most parties happen at someone’s house at night. There’s one problem with this. There usually isn’t much available light, and it can get a little cramped inside. If you're holding a party, why not try a completely different venue? How about a beach party, a party in the park, or a tailgate party before the game?
The picture to the right was taken during a beach party. The sunset provided some excellent context for the scene, allowing some very colorful silhouettes. Parties in the middle of the day are better for photos because you don’t have to use your flash at all. This results in a much more natural looking image.
Your best bet is to try to hold your next party as the sun is going down. Start outside and then gradually move indoors once there is no longer any available light. This lets you get the best of both worlds, including naturally and artificially lit scenes.
Try To Avoid Using Your Camera’s Flash
As soon as the sun goes down and the lights go off, your camera’s flash pops up to take the pictures. There’s a reason so many party photographs look the same. They’re all taken in automatic mode with the camera’s flash. Unfortunately, the flash limits the colors in the photo and can often provide too much illumination. What do you get? Blown out subjects with pale faces and backgrounds that are too dark to notice.
The next time you’re at a party, switch your camera to 'program mode' and don’t use the flash. I know what you’re about to say. You’re concerned about your photos turning out too blurry. Here’s what you can do to make them sharper.
Increase your camera’s ISO speed
When you increase your ISO speed, you can use faster shutter speeds without making your image too dark. Even if you’re only getting a few extra fractions of a second from it, you’ll notice a big difference in the sharpness of your images. When the light at a party just isn’t cutting it, I turn my ISO all the way up.
Use tables, chairs, bookshelves, countertops, and everything else as a tripod
Get as creative as you want. When I’m at a party, I’m always looking for surfaces that will keep my camera steady. I usually combine this with a wideangle lens of some kind. These lenses allow me to zoom all the way out, so I can photograph my friend from across the table while my camera rests on the tabletop.
If you’ve increased your ISO speed enough, you should be able to get some decent images by simply holding your camera still. If you remember to take your picture just after you have exhaled, you should be able to avoid unnecessary blurring. This takes some practice, but it’s well worth it.
Try To Take A Few Candid Shots
Here’s another reason why party photos always look the same. People love to pose. When they know you’re going to take the picture, they put on their party face, and we all know what everyone’s party face looks like. It’s the same face you’ve seen for years.
The next time you’re at a party, try taking pictures when people aren’t paying attention. Here are a few techniques that will help you out.
Get a Telephoto lens so you can take pictures from across the room
A Telephoto lens is a lens that lets you zoom in really far. When you can take a picture from across the room, most people won’t even know you’re there. Just make sure you use a flash this time around. You’re much more likely to get the blurriness problem with this kind of lens.
Shoot from the hip. Don’t even look through the viewfinder.
Zoom out as much as you can and place your camera at your hip. When something interesting is about to happen, point your camera at it and press the shutter. Your photo might not be framed the way you like, but you can always crop it later with software.
So, the next time you’re at a party, don’t do what everyone else is doing. Different themes are always welcome.
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