As the weather warms up so do the opportunities to get out and about and mingle with your camera in hand. From food and music festivals to sporting events, snap-worthy social occasions are abundant in the spring and summer months. Unfortunately, while large gatherings can buzz with atmosphere and present plenty of interesting scenes to capture they can also present some serious technical challenges.
Being part of the crowd rather than setting up at the side of a stage can lead to some great images that make awesome canvas prints, but patience and practice are often required. Here’s how to get ahead in crowd situations…
Whatever the occasion, getting there a little early to scope out the venue and identify possible positions can pay dividends. If practical, set up a tripod and take some practice shots. Think about where the action you want to capture will be and if it’s likely to move around. Finding the right angle and keeping things steady might prove more difficult once the crowd is in place. A combination of LCD tilt and a fast shutter speed should allow you to hold the camera above your head and avoid shake.
If you can’t break free of the crowd, do your best to work with it. Try shooting up and over the top by using small ladders or steps or even walls. Staying safe, of course. Look around; perhaps there’s a restaurant or bar nearby with a balcony you could make use of?
If despite your best efforts you get stuck further back than you’d like, hone in on your subject in the background using a wide depth of field. Of course, this may mean you have a few unwanted crowd members in the foreground – so why not make them part of the picture too?
Sometimes shooting a little lower down – around hip height – can get some really interesting images of the action. As long as the crowd isn’t too close together this can give you a cross section. Alternating your shooting styles to incorporate the crowd in this way as well as your main subject and tell more of a story about the event you’re photographing.
How many times have you been watching a gig or a match and been annoyed that someone is blocking your view? We photographers do have a nasty habit of obstructing things. So, whenever your in the midst of things, try not to get in the way! It’s not all about the view either, noisy shutters, flashes and beeps can be distracting to other people. Try and be considerate of people around you, who knows, it could earn you better photo fodder for your next canvas print.
For more useful crowd photography tips, check out our Festival photography beginners guide. If you fancy getting into festival photography, take a peek at out our guide to getting a festival photography pass.