1. omens

    omens

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    I went to a family engagement party and brought my dSLR with me. Whilst I was happy with doing poses and group photos, I struggled with taking photos of people enjoying themselves. Either my timing was off and I got a shot a fraction of a second late, or I was capturing the backs of guests' heads.

    I was in a crowded venue with about 40 guests and then a couple of hundred public guests. I had a hard time creating enough separation of subjects from backgrounds and couldn't move too far from the group (am looking at replacing the kit lens).

    Any advice, suggestions or tips would be gratefully welcome.
     
  2. Harlequin565

    Harlequin565

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    Ian
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    This happens a lot in the early days. It will improve with practise.
    Also, don't look to be creating too much separation. IMO reportage is about storytelling. Isolating individuals too much starts to make your images more 'environmental portraits' rather than storytelling ones. It's not necessarily bad per se, just different, but you need to be clear on the style your looking for.

    This might be limiting you. With this sort of photography you need to be moving around the room/area, looking for interesting things/people/moments as well as different lighting to give some variation. Being stuck in a location, or tied to a person/people isn't going to help. It could be the reason you're getting backs of heads too. If you're free to roam, move to where you get front of heads :)

    Practise, practise, practise!
     
    omens likes this.
  3. mikeyw

    mikeyw

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    I do a lot of this type of photography and it's not easy. You have to be discreet and keep moving, once people know there's a guy stood in the corner taking pics they tend to get 'awkward' and start checking their hair and looking over to see if you are still aiming at them. Once you've been spotted either have some banter with them and see if they revert to as was or simply leave them to it and move on again. A good zoom lens helps but get used to great shots been ruined by a stray hand or head moving in front of the frame. It's a numbers game i'm afraid and you maybe only use 1 in 5 or worse so give yourself a decent sample to work from.

    Try and be 'part' of the event as well - if you appear as the stranger with the camera your results will show that, speak with people and mingle in the group. It amazing how much more relaxed people become once you've had some interaction with them. If you don't they'll continue to be a little suspect and be watching out for you.

    Finally accept some people just won't co-operate, it's normally a very small minority but they simply dont want a picture taken so you have to respect that, sometimes it's down to not wanting to be seen at the event !

    Have fun - ultimately your personality will determine the results you get....

    Like anything you can only get better by doing it, theory is all well and good but on the job experience is priceless...
     
    omens likes this.
  4. Craigus

    Craigus

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    Craig
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    I went to a wedding recently and got some cracking shots in this style. About 20 probably, and about 300 that I binned. I think it comes with that style to be honest. Also don't be fiddling with settings, not sure whether that was an issue for you but I know my camera really well now and was shooting in aperture priority with auto ISO. Worrying about camera settings is a sure way to take terrible photos.
     
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  5. GTG

    GTG Suspended / Banned

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    Yea that is where it helps to have a little mirrorless.
    Everyone thinks your a fool with a film camera and don't realise you have some serious kit.
     
    omens likes this.
  6. Graham W

    Graham W

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    Graham
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    You say you're missing the shots by a fraction of a second. That's because you are seeing the shot in the viewfinder and then pressing the shutter button.
    If you can see it in the viewfinder you've missed it.
    It's all about anticipating and predicting the shot...that only comes with practice, and lots of it.
    Keep at it, if you can see what's wrong with your pics then you're halfway there.
     
    SsSsSsSsSnake and omens like this.
  7. LongLensPhotography

    LongLensPhotography

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    You have to be able to anticipate something and be ready before it happens. Sometimes it is easy sometimes totally unpredictable. Watching them over like a surveillance hawk helps.
     
    omens likes this.
  8. Phil V

    Phil V

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    Other than what’s been mentioned:
    Use your ears too, listen out for conversations and jokes coming to a punchline.
    You probably do need better lenses, the quality of my candids went up dramatically when I got the 35mm Art (you’ll needwider on a crop).
    If you’re stood too long waiting for a shot, it’ll never happen, you’ve lost that one so move on.
    Don’t stare through the VF be aware of scenes emerging near you and go get them.

    It takes practice and it’s almost impossible to get a ‘perfect’ shot. When taking a portrait I want a clean background and nice light, add in a ‘moment’ and an uncontrolled environment and frustration becomes the norm. But the sense of achievement from getting a shot is palpable.
     
    omens likes this.
  9. Phil V

    Phil V

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    Phil
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    Oh, and don’t fall into the trap of sitting and sniping from a distance, those that do it and think they’re doing ok can never understand why other people’s photos just ‘feel’ better.
     
    stumac, HoppyUK and omens like this.
  10. Pound Coin

    Pound Coin

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    Looking for repetitions in behaviour, then snapping when it is repeated, is useful too.
     
    omens likes this.
  11. omens

    omens

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    Thanks to all for the advice.

    I wanted a little separation. The 18-135mm kit lens is great at zooming in but not so great at bokeh when it's stopped down to f/5.6 because you're at the tele end.


    This was a sort of open-ish air restaurant/bar type thing. Most people would be meeting up for drinks, a few would have food. The seating involved long picnic-style benches, packed together closely. Coupled with lots of people, it became very tight to maneouvre around without sitting in someone's lap. For group shots, I ended up standing on a bench to get height.



    And yet I'm the kind of guest who becomes self-conscious once a video or stills camera is pointing in his direction!

    Yup that's exactly what I found - I think I took about 200 photos in total. Of that, 100 were posed. The other half, were "reportage" style, and I got 3 usable shots. Out of 100.

    Despite being a guest and known to some of the group, I wasn't known to all.



    I left it on auto-ISO and Av-mode so I let the camera do most of the work. Except for the times spot-metering didn't work and the camera decided to use the bright windows as a metering point.


    I know with some of the pics, I'd have preferred to be in a different place. With some, there would be a group chatting away, they laugh and I move to take the photo and they've stopped laughing or raised their hands to their faces and my photo captures after the moment, rather than the moment itself.


    I did feel like a stalker but a rubbish one.

    I was looking at either a Sigma or Tamron 17-50mm as a replacement.

    How long would you wait for a shot? I waited about 15 seconds before moving on.

    I tried to see what was happening, what might look interesting, raise camera up and then miss the shot by a fraction of a second. I guess this is something I need to practice and develop.

    I started off by doing this and realised quickly that I would be lower so images would look wrong, and that I needed to move around to get better shots. But I had limited ability to move around.
     
  12. Phil V

    Phil V

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    Phil
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    You can afford to wait longer than that, but you need to get used to looking through the camera constantly.

    Compared to my Mrs I miss loads of shots, because I get engrossed in what’s going on rather than viewing through the camera and shooting.
     
    omens likes this.
  13. Craigus

    Craigus

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    Craig
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    A prime lens helps me hugely too, when I have a zoom in this situation I find myself trying to decide whether I want a wider shot with context or get in tighter and by the time I've figured it out the moment has gone. With a prime you get what you get and you start looking for shots that fit the focal range you have. It really doesn't take long to get that 'eye' for the focal length either I've found.
     
  14. AndrewFlannigan

    AndrewFlannigan

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    This is so. Although I prefer zooms for general use I have a few primes which are very useful in fast moving situations. Of course you can always force yourself to fix your zoom on one setting perhaps using a bit of sticky tape to reinforce your intentions. ;)
     
    omens likes this.
  15. Pete B

    Pete B

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    First time I made money with the camera was Christmas at the pub, two rolls of B&W film, my OM1n 50mm f1.8 and a Vivitar flash. A friendly group of Romany's were also celebrating.
    I went round both rooms taking pictures, telling them that I was here to take them.
    By the end of the night I was pretty drunk too ;)
    Went home, developed and contact printed, then back down the pub later in the week.
    I handed out the contact prints and people were saying "I want two of that and three of that one".
    I ended up charging 50p for a 7x5 and £1 for an 8x10.

    So, don't be hiding in the shadows, go out and stick your camera in their face, have fun with them, they will appreciate the photos more.
    By the end of the night they were calling me over to take their pictures.
     
    cargo, woof woof and omens like this.
  16. Tdes

    Tdes

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    Name:
    Tony
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    My main paid photography jobs are reportage in restaurants at night, it is a restaurant takeover with private guests, brief to capture each course (posed), guests having fun and kitchen/chefs making it all happen. Usually at night with poor lighting.

    I have limited equipment as it is not the major part of my job, first shoot was with a 100d, the 18-55 lens just wasn't cutting it so swapped to the 50mm 1.8 within 10 minutes. It was ok, light was better, struggled with too narrow DOF on some shots and was a bit tight on cropping in places.

    When the next gig was booked (different restaurant) I quickly bought a 18-50 f2.8 sigma lens and it really made things easier (max f2.8 through whole zoom range)! Looking at the pics after they all seem to be at about 18mm, 30mm or 50mm with very few at other lengths. I seem to automatically go widest, halfway or right in!

    Since then I bought a 77d and it really has made a difference. The last shoot I set it to aperture priority with auto iso (maxed at 12,500) but not sure I would do this again. There are some not normal iso values creeping in (like 4,000) which seemed more noisy than higher 'normal' iso values.

    I find that after a 4 hour event I am completely knackered, the attention and focus for that time is completely switched on with the fear of missing the most perfect of shots that evening! Very enjoyable though and very rewarding.
     
    omens likes this.
  17. SsSsSsSsSnake

    SsSsSsSsSnake

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    I’ve found more keepers since using my M100 that doesn’t have an evf
     
    omens likes this.
  18. chris malcolm

    chris malcolm

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    1,304
    Name:
    Chris
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    Yes
    Looking at people through the viewfinder of a big camera looks like you're taking a serious photograph. You can appear to be chimping through your shots, checking through the menu, etc., when in reality you're keeping an eye on what the camera happens to be pointing at via the live view on the LCD. You're not even looking their direction, you're looking down at the camera in your hands. Helps for unobtrusive candid style shots.
     
  19. -markie-

    -markie-

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    524
    Name:
    MG
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    Good advice already here.

    Only thing to add is to ALWAYS take a couple of shots (set it to CL on your camera for example). The amount of times I've caught a good shot with peoples eyes shut is unreal, so at least double your chances :)
     

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