Photographing any sort of performance indoors can be incredibly challenging. Not only will you usually be confined to the main grandstand and often to your seat, but you also have to navigate the other spectators as well as low light conditions. Here are some tips to help you when photographing indoor performances.
Get the best spot possible
This might seem obvious but often in performances indoors you will need to try and find the best vantage point to take photos from. Clearly, if you have a designated seat you don’t have much choice. But if you do find that you can move around, try to look for the best spot as quickly as possible. This means getting there as early as you can and spending a few minutes walking around to scout out the location. Once the performance gets underway, you will find it difficult to move around and you will probably also find out the best spots have already been taken.
Whilst it is important to capture Great photos you also need to be aware that you are not disturbing the performance or the audience. This means turning off your flash and also being aware of where you are standing and where your camera is. If photography is allowed and other people are taking photos most people are excepting enough to understand that people will take photos. But if you spend the entire show blocking someone because you’re standing up to take photos when you should be sitting down, naturally they might get annoyed. It’s also important to pay strict attention to the rules. For example, if in certain parts of the show you are told not to use flash photography then don’t do it as this could be for the safety of the performers.
Get yourself ready
Needless to say that if you want to be taking photos of any sort of performance, you need to be ready. That means having your camera switched on with the lens off. You should also be anticipating what camera settings you are going to need and setting them and adjusting them throughout the performance. Take a few test shots beforehand to get your settings correct. If the performance is happening on a stage then the lights might change dramatically from one scene to the next. Also, make sure you set your camera to high-speed burst mode and spend more time shooting and less time “chimping” (looking at the back of the camera).
Raise your ISO
Usually, your biggest challenge when photographing indoors will be low light. The good news is that for most performances indoors there will be some form of lighting on the performers so you should never need to raise your ISO too high. However, to have a faster shutter speed so that you are able to freeze the action will probably require a higher ISO. As a general rule try not to go any slower than 1/60 sec on your shutter speed. But how fast you actually need to set your shutter speed will depend on what it is that you are photographing. For example, photographing acrobats is going to need a faster shutter speed than someone standing still to sing. But it’s important not to raise your ISO too high otherwise you will begin to get a lot of noise in your image which will have a detrimental effect on its sharpness.
Choose the right focus mode
To make sure that your photos are sharp you need to select the correct focus mode for what you are shooting. For example, if the performer is moving you will probably be better off using continuous autofocus. This will ensure that once you’re focused on your subject as long as you keep the shutter button pressed down halfway, your camera will continuously focus on that subject. This is really useful for when it’s fast-moving action like acrobats or dancers. The alternative is to focus as a single shot. This is useful for when your performer is standing still or not moving too far back or forwards. Unless you have superfast focusing skills I would not try to focus manually as you will often not be quick enough to be able to capture the perfect moment.
Correct your white balance
Once you’ve got home with your images and uploaded them onto an image editing software, the one thing you should definitely look to do is to correct the white balance. The artificial light will often be too intense for the image you have taken. So you may need to adjust the white balance slightly to make the image more appealing. For example, if you find that your image is too orange then just use the sliders to add more blue or coolness to the image. Of course, it’s important to try and keep some of the ambiences of the lighting as that is what adds to the scene. What you should be looking to avoid is your images looking too fake.
Photographing performances indoors can be incredibly difficult. Things will be slightly easier if you are an official photographer where you will have access to be able to move around freely. But if you are confined to your seat or even just a small space that you can move around in, it is still possible to be able to capture great photos. Follow the tips above and you’ll find that you will be on your way to capturing great photos of indoor performances.
Photo credits: Kav Dadfar – All rights reserved. No usage without permission.