Capturing a good photo with your phone is harder than it looks, especially when it comes to recording an event, but it’s an essential skill for gathering social media fodder.
To help you capture the essence of an event and make people say “wow” (and get you more followers!), use this guide to taking photos – all from your phone.
BEFORE THE EVENT
RESEARCH & BRAINSTORM
Before we get into how to improve your event photography, preparation logistics will save you heaps of time and help you identify critical flaws and errors. Take time before the event to understand your surroundings and plan how to capture the best shots.
Research who is at the event, what the event is about, when particular activities are happening during the event and where they will be held, so you don’t miss out on important moments.
Consider your audience and/or branding to determine what you should be capturing and communicating in your images.
• What feeling(s) are you trying to convey?
• Is there a certain story you want to tell about the events?
• What moments do you need to capture to illustrate the story you want to tell?
• What highlights might occur, and how can you prepare to be at the right place at the right time to capture the action?
3. Identify the best angles.
Anticipate where you can capture a clear photo of speakers or participants without a blocked view – are there locations where you can achieve some height?
4. Create a photography shot list.
Having a shot list is a great tool for ensuring everything is covered; it will save you time and give you peace of mind!
SET UP YOUR PHONE
1. Clean the lens.
This may seem obvious, but most people don’t remember to do it. Your phone spends a lot of time in your hands, as well as in your purse or pocket. The camera’s lens can get covered in dirt, dust and fingerprints, resulting in smudges and blurs on photos.
Get into the habit of cleaning your phone’s lens. It will make a big difference in the clarity of your photos.
For the best results, carry a microfiber cloth to clean your phone’s lens regularly before and during the event. If you do not have one, use a soft cloth (or even your shirt) and gently wipe the lens.
2. Use the native camera.
Videos and photos taken directly in Instagram have lower resolutions and limited options for editing directly in the app.
3. Keep HDR off.
Essentially, the HDR (high dynamic range) function takes many different exposures of the same photo, and blends them together in one photo. However, it can sometimes make a picture look unnatural and overdone. Keep it simple; less is usually more. You can always edit the image later.
4. Turn off the flash.
The flash is limited to a short distance and can be quite distracting to someone participating in the event.
5. Under-expose your shot.
Mobile phones tend to blow out portions of your photograph naturally, resulting in over-highlighted areas. To fix this, under-expose your shot. It’s better to have a slightly under-exposed photo that you can then brighten with editing. There’s nothing you can do except trash an overexposed shot.
To under-exposure your photo on an iPhone, tap and hold the brightest area of your phone, which locks in the focus and exposure. After you’ve done this, you can move the camera around to compose the photo you want.
6. Turn on the grid lines and use the rule of thirds.
The rule of thirds is one of the fundamental composition principles in photography. It’s all about positioning the most important elements off-center to create a balanced and harmonious composition.
Turn on gridlines on your phone by going to Settings > Camera > Grid.
Use your phone’s vertical and horizontal lines to help you capture a straight image. Stand in the middle of the scene and distance your grid equally for instant impact. Pay attention to the details, and place the most important elements of the scene along the grid lines or at the intersections where the lines meet.
7. iPhone-specific tip: Turn on Live Photos.
Live photos are short mini-videos. You can edit them and select the best still frame within the video. Alternatively, you can hold the shutter button to capture a burst of images.
DURING THE EVENT
1. Show up early and take pre-event photos.
Arrive 15 to 30 minutes early, depending on the event. During this time, you can start to build relationships with the guests at the event. That way, when the event starts, they may be more comfortable with your asking for a photo. This also gives you the opportunity to take pre-event setup shots.
2. Opt for natural lighting.
When shooting indoors, try to take photos near a window and away from any artificial light. Artificial light can tint your photographs yellow.
3. Take action shots.
Action shots are far more interesting than people posing for a photo. Be quick! Event photography requires you to be constantly alert and be ready to take a shot. Because you never know what’s going to happen, you should always be on the lookout!
4. Keep your camera steady for sharp, shake-free shots.
Hold your phone with both hands, ideally resting it against something solid. This helps prevent blurry images.