I had my first paid photographic gig over the weekend. It was a relative’s father’s retirement party. It’s a good way to start: Lower pressure, small party, lots of people ready to pose.
Yet, it’s still nerve-wracking and gave me an entirely new appreciation for what wedding and event photographers have to go through.
And I want to do it again. I’ve got the bug now.
Random thoughts on the event:
I only had an hour and a half to be there. Unfortunately, that time included the buffet dinner. People do not want to see pictures of themselves eating food, so I lost some time. I tried to make up for it by taking pics of people as they were in the line for food.
I told everyone my rule: You stand in pairs, you get your picture taken. It worked both as an ice breaker and as a way to keep moving.
I didn’t butt in enough. Granted, I knew a few people at the soiree, but not all of them. So I had to play the confident outgoing photographer type to get people to stop what they’re doing for a moment to take a picture. I needed to do it more. When you’re the photographer, don’t fear being “pushy.” It’s expected, and necessary.
Lens choice is an issue. I went with my three lenses: 50mm f/1.8, 70-300mm f/3.5-5.6, and the wide angle Tamron 17- 35mm f/3.5 – 5.6. The room wasn’t that large, so it’s not like I had much room to stand way back and take pictures. I did use the longest lens to try to get some candid pics from across the room, but the lighting made it troublesome. I had to use my flash, which is tough to nail just right from across the room. With the 50mm, I got the best pics, but could only ever fit two people (head and shoulders) into a shot at a time. The wide angle lens worked best for groups, but it’s not like I was getting any bokeh with it.
The pictures came out good, don’t get me wrong. But I was changing lenses far too often. My next lens will now definitely be the Tamron 28 – 70mm f/2.8 throughout. It’s bright, fast, and has more latitude than the 50mm. I might not get the pics from across the room, but that’s OK. I can get them from halfway across the room, or crop as needed afterwards. It looks like a terrific lens for this kind of event.
I shot in manual mode. I didn’t realize the enormity of that until afterwards, so let me mention it again: I shot the entire thing in manual mode, controlling the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO as I went along. Nothing was automated. I even adjusted the brightness of my flash. I took an awful lot of test shots, and often needed to take two of given shots to get it right, but it was worth it. Still — MANUAL. I’m nuts.
I let the auto-focus work its magic, though. I’m not a masochist.
Always check your ISO. Often. Don’t forget that you changed it to ISO 800 to shoot the moving objects across the room, just before you’re setting up to take a big group shot with three dozen people in it standing still at decently close range. A little noise removal smoothed that out, but I should have still gotten it at ISO 200, or ISO 400, at worst. Drat and bother!
I should really plunk down the dough for Noise Ninja one of these days. If it integrated seamlessly into Lightroom, I bet I would have already spent the money. Maybe Lightroom 3 will allow such integration.
I brought plenty of extra batteries for both the camera and the flash, but never needed them.
I won’t be doing weddings or bar mitvahs anytime soon, but I’ll do your kid’s birthday party or parents’ anniversary shindig, if you want. My rates are low! ;-)
I ordered business cards, just in case. They didn’t arrive on time. UGH.
I didn’t have a back-up camera body, just my one handy Canon XTi. I’m a daredevil.
When getting paid for your pictures, you’ll find yourself doing a lot more careful editing in Lightroom. I’ve never used localiszed adjustments before this.