It's summer time!

Well, here we are. We all wait for summer every year, with great weather and a time for parties, be they birthday, anniversary, bar mitzvah, BBQ, retirement or just a celebration. Now over the years I have photographed most things, weddings, special events, work events, gay pride parties, and even ladies' nights (best avoided, trust me gents!!). Not everyone will want to pay for some photos, so this blog is about how to get the best party shots to keep people happy if you are asked to take some photos.

Firstly enjoy it, secondly lay off the booze, you can handle everything better sober. I have heard tales of wedding photographers getting drunk on the job and having the audacity to run up a bar tab in a hotel and charge it to the happy couple!!!

You could of course use an iPhone, or good quality mobile, but there are things to consider. Light, it will go and darkness will descend eventually and that little light on your camera phone won't help much. Also disco lights play havoc with a camera's sensor and your light readings will be all over the place. This is the time to be brave. Set your camera up in manual mode, use a wide-angle lens and set your f stop to f4, then set your shutter speed to around 1/100 second and the ISO to auto. You will need a flash to fill in those dark shadows. Set the flash to second curtain sync, so the flash fires, not at the beginning of the exposure but at the end and you will get effects like this when people are dancing.


As you can see this has started to add some movement into your image. Now drop the shutter speed right down, to say 1/20 second and the movement before the flash fires become more obvious. The flash captures the person at the end of the exposure. Without the flash, the image would be completely blurred.

Be Creative

Be like some of the party people, let yourself go and experiment. Try turning the camera clockwise during the exposure, or use a gel to colour your flash. You will need to be in the thick of it and maybe even on the dance floor itself! The short distance between photographer and subject is the main reason we picked a wide-angle lens.

Keep your eyes peeled, there are going to be many excellent photo opportunities, try not to miss them.

You may even see people dancing properly, like this man in the photo below.

Well watch out because he could soon become the ninja of the dance floor!!! These were only taken about 10 minutes apart, blame Abba. The coloured stripes are caused by a laser light and slower shutter speed.

Obviously don't forget the DJ or the band, and don't forget the fringes of a party (normally where I can be found, sitting down with the old folks!!) and children are very cute on the dance floor.

So there we are, enjoy the summer, enjoy your party no matter what it is, don't forget to dance with Grannie or Grandad and most importantly, be nice to the photographer!!