Last weekend I was in Hong Kong to shoot the Asia Skyrunning Championships for Action Asia Events. While there, I also did two promotional shoots for some up & coming athletes who are starting to make waves on the international scene. Commercial shoots such as these ones I did for Sunmaya Budha, Purna Neupane [see images here] & Sandi Menchi [view here] are different from the event photography that I shot that weekend for the Skyrunning Championships & yet the lessons learned in event photography can bring benefits to the commissioned non-event commercial work that I do for brands.
There are many things to be said about event photography work but here are some of the main points with a type of work that requires consistency & a low attrition rate with images to make sure you deliver the goods for an event organiser who has hired you. It’s not too difficult to shoot half a dozen decent images during an event and then post those on social media to a chorus of Facebook likes but to shoot large volumes of high quality images during a race or event, in different settings that provide a wide variety of compositions that tell a story – that is a different standard.
The event photographers I admire can consistently reach that standard and it’s one I continually strive for. When you look at the 30-50 images that they post after an event, at least 90% are of a high standard. You never see just a few eye catching images & the rest below par. Those that cut their teeth in event photography who are genuinely good, will often go on to other commercial work outside event photography. The others remain in event photography. The ability to get the shot in all kinds of settings when it counts and under pressure is valuable and one that brings benefits to commissioned commercial work for brands.
I am often asked for advice on shooting events but as someone who is always learning, I don’t feel so bold and so what follows below is some condensed advice in the format of SIX TOP TIPS that others have given to me over the past few years and I am happy to share as they have even valuable and contain standards that I strive for:
- At least 90% of your total images should be high quality – If you are just shooting a handful of good quality event images and there’s a big gap between them & the rest of your images, then something isn’t right.
- Get it right in camera – if you’re editing your images to death [shadows & highlights because you haven’t exposed properly] and you haven’t got it right in camera then your workflow is inefficient & your skills need working on. Viewers of images might not be Photoshop experts but they can tell from skin & vegetation as well as cloud definitions when the use of editing software has been too generous. Other pro photographers can definitely tell when you haven;t got it right in camera & are compensating through overuse of editing.
- Be able to shoot in all kinds of conditions. From rain, low visibility to direct harsh sunlight, be able to shoot in all conditions. We can’t choose the weather so need to be able to shoot in anything. If the weather is miserable and it’s grey and raining then it’s time to BE CREATIVE [we are ‘creatives’ after all]. That’s what we’re paid for. Don’t blame the weather. Shoot good creative images and make it work for us.
- Work on your fitness – the fitter you are, the more ground you can cover which in turn means more shot options & variety for your client. Make sure your images are not just taken from the same positions.
- Work for the shots – don’t stand at checkpoints taking shots & take the easy options. Work hard for your shots.
- Be yourself – find your own voice in your images. Don’t try & be like some other photographer. Don’t follow the Facebook or Instagram crowd. Find your image voice & stay true to it. It’s not about Facebook likes 🙂
These few pieces of advice have been invaluable to me & ones that I hold myself to. I hope they’re helpful to others as well
Shots from the Action Asia Events Skyrunning Championships