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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
“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