Event Photographer's Checklist

What does it take to be a good event photographer? A few tips from my journey so far, and inside view of my gear kit.

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Here is a photo of my while covering this year's IFP Week. As you can see I am carrying my 70-200mm in one hand to switch between lenses easily. Ultimately I would have my second 5D with me but it is currently being repaired. 

So, what equipment do I use to shoot events with? Here is a list of everything that is in my camera bag. I will go over equipment as well as some other essentials that I carry with me.

1. Full frame body: 

 
 
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I use the Canon 5D Mark III as my main camera and then the 5D Mark II as a B cam so that I do not have to constantly switch between lenses. Do not worry if you don't have two bodies. You can make it just fine. I have done numerous events with only one body.

2. A fast lens:

Depending on the event you might need a different set of lenses. My go to lens for parties and receptions is the Canon 24-70mm f/2.8. For events that include panels or presentations I add to my bag the Canon 70-200mm F/2.8.  

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These are two examples. The left image is a party event at a bar shot on my 24-70mm and the right one is a photo of one of the panelists from the IFP Week 2017 using my 70-200mm. The image on the left is also an example of using flash. This leads us to the next thing which is...

3. On camera flash:

My go to is the Vivitar 385HV Flash. It hasn't given me any issues in the 2 years that I have had it in my kit and it is extremely affordable (89$) and easy to use. Always be careful with the use of flash as improper use can lead to unwanted results. I never point the flash directly on the subjects. Always try to bounce it off of somewhere. The ceiling is the easy solution. Lately I have been using the Gary Fong Lightsphere Collapsible diffuser and my photos have never looked better. 

 Independent shoot for IFP Week 2017

Independent shoot for IFP Week 2017

4. At least 2x32GB SD or CF cards

I always try to have a 128GB combined available storage on my media. The you don't want to show up to an event and don't have enough space on your cards! I personally prefer SD cards over CF because I can just insert them into my computer and transfer the files. For larger events with more files I do opt for a CF and use my USB 3 card reader. Regardless of your preference you should always have extra back up cards. 

5. EXTRA BATTERIES

I cannot stress this enough! ALWAYS have extra batteries for your camera and for your flash. You should also have a charger with you and if the location and the nature of the event permits, always keep one charging. 

 Riverside Gala 2017 event photography for Coverd

Riverside Gala 2017 event photography for Coverd

I also want to talk about a few more things. I chose to wear all black for events. It is a safe choice regardless of the event's dress code. For most events, a black V neck and black pants are fine. If the event is at night I chose my black button down shirts instead. Of course if the event has a strict dress code you need to be able to adapt to it and throw on a black blazer if needed. I also always have business cards with me. Whenever I shoot independently I use my personal cards or if I represent an agency like Coverd, I use their business cards.  The best way to get new jobs is by word of mouth.