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Reportage pho­tog­ra­phy is a dif­fi­cult and stress­ful genre for a begin­ner pho­tog­ra­ph­er, whether it’s a con­cert, a birth­day or a wed­ding ban­quet. This event will not be repeat­ed, so the pho­tog­ra­ph­er has a respon­si­bil­i­ty to clients — to leave a mem­o­ry, cap­ture the main moments and con­vey the atmos­phere of the event.

We have pre­pared a check­list for a begin­ner that will help you not to for­get any­thing when prepar­ing for a shoot, com­pe­tent­ly orga­nize work on time and remind you what to do when you have an archive with giga­bytes of images that need to be select­ed and processed.

Pho­to: Eliz­a­beth Chechevic / www.instagram.com/chechevic_a

What to bring to a photo shoot

One mem­o­ry card may not be enough, espe­cial­ly if you are shoot­ing a wed­ding that lasts all day. Even if the card is roomy — make sure, because it can break.

To quick­ly catch the right frame and not wait for the cam­era to “think”, choose a card with a max­i­mum record­ing speed — from 90 megabytes per sec­ond and high­er.

If the cam­era allows, shoot in two for­mats at once — jpeg and RAW, because some­times the cus­tomer asks for a cou­ple of shots urgent­ly, before pro­cess­ing / Pho­to: Eliza­ve­ta Chechevit­sa / www.instagram.com/chechevic_a
  • Addi­tion­al light

For report­ing from hol­i­days and par­ties, one exter­nal flash is quite suit­able, which is put on the cam­era from above, on the hot shoe mount.

Make sure that such a flash has a dif­fuser — if you just shine on a per­son­’s fore­head, how the light turns out to be flat. Some pho­tog­ra­phers attach a fold­ed white sheet of paper to the flash, point­ing it up. In this way, reflect­ed light hits the object, which gives a soft­er result.

Often wed­ding pho­tog­ra­phers use sev­er­al stands with light, which are placed around the perime­ter of the ban­quet hall. The flash­es fire simul­ta­ne­ous­ly with the help of a syn­chro­niz­er and illu­mi­nate the entire area around.

If you are pho­tograph­ing con­certs, the­atri­cal per­for­mances, peo­ple on stage, as a rule, you can­not use flash­es so as not to dis­tract and blind the artists.

You can com­pen­sate for this with fast lens­es (aper­ture lens­es are con­sid­ered fast, whose aper­ture val­ue is f / 2.8 or less). They allow you to shoot in dark­er rooms with­out loss of qual­i­ty and the appear­ance of noise.

The lens needs to cov­er dif­fer­ent focal lengths. Sim­ply put, he knew how to zoom in, mak­ing the plan larg­er, and move it away.

Fast zoom lens­es are expen­sive, so you can get by with a set of prime lens­es. For exam­ple, 24mm or wider for long shots, 50mm for medi­um shots, and 85mm for stage por­traits.

The wide-angle Samyang 14mm f/2.8 made it pos­si­ble to cap­ture more space close to the sub­ject / Pho­to: Eliza­ve­ta Chechevit­sa / www.instagram.com/chechevic_a

Fixed primes are a good exer­cise in com­po­si­tion, but the ques­tion is whether you’re will­ing to change lens­es every moment, fear­ing you’ll miss the per­fect shot every moment. For a first shoot, this expe­ri­ence can be too extreme.

Take a set of a cou­ple of extra bat­ter­ies. The main thing is to charge them before shoot­ing. Charge them before every shoot, even if the bat­tery isn’t dead.

If you take a flash, make sure that there are sev­er­al sets of bat­ter­ies for it — they sit down much faster than a cam­era bat­tery. It is more eco­nom­i­cal and envi­ron­men­tal­ly friend­ly to buy a cou­ple of sets of suit­able bat­ter­ies for the flash.

  • Water­proof pho­to back­pack and cam­era case

Rel­e­vant if you shoot on the street. So the equip­ment will def­i­nite­ly not get wet. If you don’t see the point in spend­ing mon­ey on a spe­cial back­pack, then at least buy water­proof cas­es for your back­pack and cam­era. But be aware that these cas­es are fixed in size, and not all lens­es and cam­eras will fit there. For exam­ple, a Canon 24–70mm lens and a Canon Mark III cam­era fit into such a case with great dif­fi­cul­ty, fill the entire space and do not allow zoom­ing, while a 40mm or 85mm lens leaves a lot of free space inside the case.

Alai Oli at the open fes­ti­val “Peter, I love you” / Pho­to: Eliza­ve­ta Chechevit­sa / www.instagram.com/chechevic_a

How to prepare for shooting

  • Find out what the cus­tomer needs

Some want emo­tion­al shots from a wed­ding ban­quet with an empha­sis on rel­a­tives. It is impor­tant for oth­ers to doc­u­ment all the speak­ers, to pho­to­graph the offi­cials. Still oth­ers will ask you to take pic­tures of adver­tis­ing stands in order to report to spon­sors. This is the respon­si­bil­i­ty of the pho­tog­ra­ph­er, so talk to who­ev­er is pay­ing you and find out as much as you can about what is expect­ed of you. Record agree­ments in writ­ing.

  • Ask for an event sce­nario

To make the report com­plete, find out when the speak­ers change each oth­er, when they start throw­ing the bride’s bou­quet, and when the cake is brought out for the child to blow out the can­dles. So you will be at the right time in the right place, choose the win­ning angle in advance and do not miss the key event.

Pho­to from MMM fight / Pho­to: Eliza­ve­ta Chechevit­sa / www.instagram.com/chechevic_a
  • Make a route

If you are pho­tograph­ing an event with a large num­ber of zones and speak­ers, such as a fes­ti­val, plan your itin­er­ary. Eval­u­ate who, where and when is per­form­ing, so as not to waste time on chaot­ic dash­es in dif­fer­ent direc­tions.

Tricks and rules of reportage shooting

  • Come ear­ly

This will help you look around, appre­ci­ate the light, choose points for shoot­ing and feel more con­fi­dent. In addi­tion, you will make a good impres­sion on the cus­tomer.

  • Watch your shut­ter speed so that the move­ments of peo­ple in the frame are not blurred.

Yes, the longer the shut­ter speed, the brighter the frame turns out, but in reports this can be detri­men­tal to the qual­i­ty of the pic­tures. Espe­cial­ly if you are pho­tograph­ing with­out a flash, which in itself “freezes” the move­ment.

Focus on shut­ter speeds of 1/200 sec­ond or faster. To com­pen­sate for the dark­ness of the frame due to too fast shut­ter speeds, rais­ing the ISO will help.

  • Turn on the con­tin­u­ous shoot­ing func­tion

The cam­era will take many shots quick­ly. So at the selec­tion stage there will be more choice and a high­er chance that all shots will be suc­cess­ful. If some­one blinked in a group por­trait, it does­n’t mat­ter. It will be pos­si­ble to replace a sec­tion of the pho­to with a piece from a more suc­cess­ful frame.

  • Alter­nate plans

The alter­na­tion of large, medi­um and long shots in the report is a good tone. This way you con­vey emo­tions through large por­traits and reac­tions of peo­ple, show the atmos­phere that the details of the envi­ron­ment cre­ate. There­fore, do not for­get, includ­ing the inte­ri­or, decor, objects. Clas­sic exam­ples are bridal rings, a close-up of an unusu­al birth­day cake.

Con­cert of the Aquar­i­um group / Pho­to: Eliza­ve­ta Chechevit­sa / www.instagram.com/chechevic_a
  • Cap­ture peo­ple in motion

Sta­t­ic frames are also need­ed, but the action in the frame cre­ates dynam­ics, makes the pho­tos live­ly and inter­est­ing.

  • Fol­low the back­ground

See what is behind the sub­ject in the frame. There may be rub­bish that does not car­ry any val­ue and dis­tracts atten­tion. For exam­ple, back­stage chaos if you are pho­tograph­ing a musi­cian on stage. To avoid this, it is often enough to change the angle or focal length.

  • Do not take a pic­ture of a per­son if he refus­es

Some peo­ple don’t like being pho­tographed. In order not to pro­voke a quar­rel — lis­ten, delete the frame and avoid shoot­ing them so that in the end it does not result in a con­flict. This applies pri­mar­i­ly to closed events, such as wed­dings. If it is vital for the host of the hol­i­day to get a shot with this per­son, inform him or the respon­si­ble orga­niz­er about this so that they can talk with the guest.

Oth­er­wise, you will not find a speak­er on stage or a musi­cian who would for­bid them to be pho­tographed — pub­lic peo­ple are accus­tomed to this and take it easy.

  • Record a report on two mem­o­ry cards at once

Some cam­eras have two slots and allow you to record pic­tures on two cards at once. This is nec­es­sary for safe­ty net, to be sure that the pho­tos will remain with you, even if one sud­den­ly fails. If there is no such func­tion, change your mem­o­ry cards more often — if one of them fails, you will still have pic­tures of the rest of the report.

How to select and process reports

  • Avoid rep­e­ti­tion

Some­times it is dif­fi­cult to choose the best of two sim­i­lar shots. But it will have to. The cus­tomer will be bored look­ing at dozens of iden­ti­cal frames in a series. This will cre­ate the feel­ing of a lit­tered reportage, as if you thought­less­ly pho­tographed every­thing.

Start by get­ting rid of the shoot­ing of mar­riage — defo­cused objects, blurred in the move­ment of peo­ple, dis­tort­ed faces tak­en at the wrong moment, closed eyes, over­ex­posed or under­ex­posed frames that can­not be “pulled out” in edi­tors.

Poet Lyokha Nikonov at the read­ings / Pho­to: Eliza­ve­ta Chechevit­sa / www.instagram.com/chechevic_a
  • Build your report from start to fin­ish

The bride will be hor­ri­fied if she opens the fold­er with pho­tos and imme­di­ate­ly sees the finale of the cel­e­bra­tion. Have you for­got­ten every­thing else? Arrange the frames in order, from begin­ning to end. So the event will have a plot, and it will be eas­i­er for the cus­tomer to upload the shoot­ing to the social net­work.

  • Find out which pro­cess­ing the cus­tomer prefers

As a rule, peo­ple want either nat­ur­al or warm and rich col­ors. The entire series should be uni­form — the same in terms of white bal­ance and expo­sure. Sin­gle moments that do not need to be “pulled out” before the rest of the frames do not count — for exam­ple, when the birth­day boy blows out the can­dles in com­plete dark­ness.

DOPE DOD / Pho­to: Eliza­ve­ta Chechevit­sa / www.instagram.com/chechevic_a
  • Flat­ten the hori­zon

Even expe­ri­enced pho­tog­ra­phers miss their shots and end up with overblown shots. It’s easy to fix in post-pro­cess­ing. The main thing is that in the end the cropped pho­to should be har­mo­nious in com­po­si­tion.

The print­able check­list can be down­loaded from our Telegram chan­nel.

Master’s advice

“You should not spend a sin­gle day with­out a cam­era. One of my teach­ers back in the ear­ly six­ties said: “When you go to bed, put your cam­era under your pil­low.” Some­times you just need to go to the store to find an inter­est­ing plot. At the same time, I do not real­ly trust phones, although tech­nol­o­gy is mov­ing for­ward by leaps and bounds. My expe­ri­ence says that they make the pic­ture bet­ter and more beau­ti­ful, and this is not always nec­es­sary. The hard­est thing, of course, is to pho­to­graph on film, because you don’t know what will hap­pen. And there it is impos­si­ble to scrib­ble shots like a machine gun­ner. The film brings up the antic­i­pa­tion of the frame, when you know when to press the shut­ter but­ton. If you take a cam­era occa­sion­al­ly, it’s not a job. In addi­tion, now it is extreme­ly dif­fi­cult to pho­to­graph some­thing new. The unusu­al sit­u­a­tion in the frame and the emo­tions on the faces of the pho­to heroes help me out. If it is in the frame, no one can sur­pass you.

pho­to­jour­nal­ist, dean of the fac­ul­ty of pho­to­jour­nal­ists of the Union of Jour­nal­ists of St. Peters­burg and the Leningrad Region Pavel Markin



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