Live Event Photography - Music and Theater
Had a chance to do a grab some live performance stills a few weeks ago at the Women's in Comedy Festival which took place in different diverse venues in the Greater Boston area. Since it was a live performance and not a lot of room to move around i was somewhat limited as to where i was able to stand....ideally some large performance rooms have a "pit" where video and camera people can get great access but such is not always the case - especially in smaller rooms
<h2>Theaters and Concert Halls</h2>
These spaces always present unique problems....in that the ambient light is typically not as bright as might be desired optimally for photography....and the distance where you have to stand to the talent makes careful framing and sharpness tricky to attain...As is often the case, in order to get a clear image when doing live music photography or theater photography one has to use a high ISO (sensitivity) in order to get the shutter speed high enough to capture a sharp usable image which means that you need a high quality camera that can provide high quality images at high ISOs to begin with. Long lenses with fast apertures are almost a necessity and also tend to be expensive.....I typically use a Tamron 70-200mm 2.8VR which is about as sharp as they come for that focal length....there are others from all the other major manufacturers ...and a lot are equally good. When doing classical music photography or theater photos there are also additional practical considerations that come into play....From a photographer's perspective shooting in an empty room (without audience) is the best since one can get the right angles unhindered by the audience and not be overly concerned about shutter noise.
But unforntunately this is not always possible and sometimes a live shoot is asked for.
Shooting from high balconies or off at the sides of the stage floor are then what's permissable and one has to do the best with the shooting areas that are offered. Patience and careful technique can do the trick.
<h2>Corporate and Family Events</h2>
Although Weddings are the proverbial bread and butter for "Event Photographers" there are also Mitzvahs, Birthdays, Baptisms, Christenings and Corporate Events that we frequently get hired to document.
Weddings are an entire subject of their own but as with all event photography the focus should be on storytelling ..
Technically high ISOs not so much due to the light issues at the venue but with the intent and hope to capture the space as well as the person with each picture.
Although a good flash will be able to produce a solid image on any camera as a professional we are expected to capture the feel of the place as well as the person so that there is not that person in a black hole effect. Shooting a person at say, 400 ISO will produce a very suitable image from any decent prosumer or professional camera. But in order to capture the person and the event room one has to use higher ISOs....in the order of 1000++ depending on the light levels of the venue or room in question...For Mitzvah Photography getting the whole room exposed right is crucial. Often there are large groups where I am expected to capture a group pose of 30-75 children as well as the room. So a good camera that hold detail at higher sensitivity levels is important. I often use a Nikon D750- perfect for low light
Getting the ISO setting right from the beginning is key....Some cameras have auto ISO- but not always reliable....I experienced shooting an event at auto ISO only to find out at my horror that the camera selected 25,000 - a crazy value even for a top fo the line camera.
Corporate Event Photography can be a highly charged project where I can find myself working elaborately decorated rooms with prestigious speakers or a more relaxed affair where I get table shots as well as carefully gathered candids that document the feel and "vibe" of the event for the company website.