We live in a fairly hedonistic world where people are enjoying themselves at all hours of the day and night-especially in big cities. Think birthday celebrations, office leaving parties, bachelor/bachelorette parties, works nights out-in fact any excuse for a few drinks. In the summer months, people spill out onto the streets, which can lead to even more of a party atmosphere and sense of fun.
An assignment like this needs some planning. Don’t just wander out onto the streets hoping something interesting will happen: think about what you want to achieve and then plan your approach. Let’s suppose, for example, your assignment is based on
the pre-wedding celebrations that are bachelor/bachelorette parties.
Your approach might go something like this:
What’s your vision for how the assignment will look? What “tone” will it take? Will you show people in a good, bad, or indifferent light? Color or black and white? Landscape, portrait, or square format?
- If shooting after dark do you plan to use ambient light or flash? Try not to mix the two in the same assignment.
- Do you plan to have people looking into the lens or will you shoot candidly? Or a mix of the two? Both styles have their merits, but it’s good to set your own ground rules before shooting.
- You’ll probably know the areas in which “bar crawls” take place; visit these areas and get a feel for the environment; work out where the good light and the best backgrounds will be.
- Now consider how the assignment will end up. As a book? A biog article? A set of prints? It can be useful to work back from this end-point as it could influence your approach to the assignment.
Unless the situation seems uncomfortable or threatening in some way, get as close to the action as possible and don’t be too concerned about being “outed” as a photographer; if people are having fun they will barely notice you and, if they do, the chances are they’ll play up for the camera.
View the images
- For the best results you need to be close to the revellers, so use a 28-35mm focal length (full-frame equivalent).
- If you use flash you will be highly visible.
- You may find it more comfortable (and more visually pleasing) to increase the ISO and use ambient lighting instead.
- Travel light; one camera and one lens is all you need.
- Be discreet. Emotions can run high and party goers and alcohol can often lead to unpredictable behaviour!
- Take care when shooting at night and always think “safety first”.