Covering an event by way of photography can be challenging...
It can be unpredictable but don't worry. Here are a few tips from a journalist to help you out.
Step 1: Take the easy, most predictable shots
This can include things like people giving speeches, big group shots, or the main focus for the event which could be a ceremony of a plaque or donation item. Once these are out of the way you can move on to the more challenging things.
Step 2: Think outside the box
Now these steps can be in any order as inspiration or the moment can come right at the beginning of the event or well after it's over. It all depends on how everything is unfolding and your attention to detail. Speaking of detail, get in close - to people enjoying themselves or showing their emotions, detail shots of certain things like food or historical pictures.
Step 3: Go wide
This shot never hurts. It's easy to create a panorama by taking multiple horizontal shots starting from one side of the room or outdoor scene to the other. Position yourself in a corner or directly in the centre to accomplish this.
Here are a couple of examples from this year:
Hungarian Plaque Ceremony
I was assigned to cover this event in Ponoka County near Bashaw for my St. Patricks Day this year. It was a Sunday but there were several large news outlets out to witness the historic moment. A large number of Hungarians had travelled to Alberta including the Embassy of Hungary and the Canadian-Hungarian Heritage Council as their ancestors had immigrated to Canada at the turn of the 20th century.
A brief history researched and compiled by local Bashaw resident Larry Dubitz and Julianna Stein explained the hardships many Hungarian settlers faced like the harsh Canadian winters in sod houses constructed from the native land they had acquired through government incentive. Because of these hurdles, the St. Michael’s Manfred (Hungarian) Society felt the plaque was a great way to show their pride for their country and roots that have taken place in the west.
Anyhow, the reason I am using this one as an example is because of the diversity of the images and how cool the event truly was.
The girl peeking through the flag she was holding was one of the visitors from Hungary - Very shy but in a moment like this, it was a perfect way to capture a fine detail and human interest piece all in one. Her look really draws the reader in.
The old church - one that was built in the 1950s - is unfortunately set to be demolished if it already hasn't. When I published this notice, it really stirred up the abandoned building community as many of us have major respect for these old pieces of history. For this event, we were all lucky enough to experience the interior as they had unlocked the inside. It was mostly gutted with a few pews and religious items about but not much beyond that. It was a great experience, especially as an abandon seeker myself.
In the photo with the gentleman and the lady, they were singing a Hungarian song during the official proceedings. This is one of your basic shots to get out of the way. While singing it is best to capture the audience singing along too if possible. It may feel intimidating to start moving and being in people's faces to get the shot but at some point you just have to own it and they eventually stop caring about you doing your job anyhow.
Either way, this event was hands-down one of my favourites for many reasons. It may have taken me forever to find the place but once I did, it was magical.
Stettler Bullfighting Competition
As many of you know, I LOVE the sport of rodeo. I didn't necessarily grow up around it but did attend a few as a I grew up. Now, I'm much more involved, attending quite a few rodeos a year. For this bullfighting competition, I thought it would be interesting to show action and moments all rolled into one. Local content is always preferred so in this case it was local bullfighters. I'll let these pictures speak for themselves.
After plenty of practice, these steps will begin to be second nature. When in doubt, just continue shooting until you feel satisfied... and then stay longer in case something happens haha. I typically try to arrive 10-15 minutes before the event to get my settings proper and figure out where exactly I'll be able to shoot from. I stay until everything is completely done on the itinerary and catch up with others if need be to get names and such.
Cheers - T.