One of the best things about the holiday season is the line-up of parties and events that bring together friends or family for a chance to laugh, dance, relax and catch up. Whether you're going to a small gathering with your friends or a lavish Christmas celebration with the whole family, knowing how to photograph the fun and festivities in a creative way will help you create memories to cherish forever. With these useful tips and techniques you'll get great party photos that everyone will like and share.
Parties often involve low light and moving subjects, so it’s important to make sure that your camera is set appropriately for shooting in this kind of environment.
You don’t have to use flash, but you’ll need to make sure your shutter speed is fast enough to deal with movement. Set a shutter speed of around 1/160 second or 1/250 sec at a minimum, and make sure your aperture is relatively wide open (lower f-number). Turning your ISO up to a moderate or high setting, such as ISO 3200 or ISO 6400, will also help here.
If you do use flash, make sure that it’s set up in a way that will flatter your subjects. If you’re using a Speedlite flashgun, instead of pointing it directly at whatever you’re trying to capture, angle it towards the ceiling so that the light is bounced towards your subjects. Not only will this produce a more natural illumination, but your subjects will be more comfortable with this too.
The Speedlite 470EX-AI, the world’s first flash with Auto-Intelligent Bounce, takes care of selecting the optimal bounce angle for you by assessing your surroundings and automatically tilting the flash head to bounce at just the right point on the walls or the ceiling – allowing you to simply focus on getting the shot.
If your camera is Wi-Fi equipped and you can get hold of an external flash with wireless capability – or if you're not using wireless but you have an off-camera shoe cord – then you can position your flash off to one side and trigger it remotely.
An alternative way to get great results from your flash is to use a diffusion cap or a small soft box over the flash head. This will spread and soften the output of the flash, helping you to get more naturalistic skin tones while freezing the action.
Posed images certainly have their place, but if you want to capture natural expressions of joy at a party, shooting candidly is the way to go.
A longer lens, such as the Canon EF-S 17-55mm f/2.8 IS USM, will help you to frame more distant subjects, and allow you to shoot without it being too obvious that you have your camera pointing at anyone in particular. For the same reason, you should turn off you camera’s AF assist light.
Rather than using your camera’s flash when shooting candidly, it’s better to use a wide aperture and a moderate-to-high ISO setting to keep subjects sharp and focused.
You don’t have to use flash, but you’ll need to make sure your shutter speed is fast enough to deal with movement.