Lighting for a corporate holiday party shoot?

Discussion in 'Lighting Equipment' started by dan magnus, Dec 21, 2004.

  1. This is my first post...sorry if it's a little lengthy. I have been
    asked to take pictures for a corporate holiday party for
    approximately 800 people. They want both "party pic" type pictures,
    as well as a mini-studio in a corner of the room for formal, posed
    shots. I am looking for advice for the following situations:

    1. Party pics: I've done many party-pic events before, but not with
    this equipment. I believe I am relatively well-equiped (canon 20d,
    17-40f4 L, 580ex, strobofram proT bracket, two 1gb x80 cf cards, and
    8 rechargeable lithium ion batteries). Do you think the batteries
    are enough, or should I pony up for a quantum battery pack? (or rent
    one?) Also, if I want to use any or all of the party pics on my
    website (other than for re-sale to the event participants) do I need
    releases? If so, how would I do that in a loud, fast-moving, party
    environment?

    2. Location-studio pics: I currently have a backdrop stand and two
    monolight strobes (Photogenic), also a 70-200f4 L and a bogen
    3021bpro/3030 head tripod. I've used this set-up before in my
    basement "studio", and can use one light on either side of the
    camera with either umbrellas or soft-boxes. My question here is
    would you also recommend a small light to light the backdrop? Any
    other lights? Obviously, the simpler the better. Also, what would
    you recommend for a backdrop? Paper? Muslin? Black? White? Color?
    Also, should I ask each couple to fill out a quick
    name/addrss/phone/email card to use in either future marketing
    efforts or in case I want to use the picture and need to contact
    them for a signed release? (Which begs the question I asked above -
    do I need a release to show these photos un-protected on my
    website?), or is that asking too much from the young, party people?

    Thanks in advance for any advice you can give!
     
  2. I wouldn't go near anything like this with one camera body and hotshoe flash. For the last wedding I shot, which was just a family affair (tho' with quite a few guests) I took three bodies and four hotshoe flash units. All it takes is one good smack to break a hotshoe and disable a flash - and accidents can definitely happen at parties, especially where there's alcohol or little children.

    Even if it means buying the cheapest Rebel film camera I could get my hands on (I'm assuming the EOS film cameras have some compatibility with the lenses designed for Canon's dSLRs) I'd take a spare. And some kind of spare hotshoe flash.

    And duct tape. Or gaffer's tape if you prefer. But duct tape is usually easy to remove cleanly when it's in place for only a short time. It might be enough to keep a flash with a busted hotshoe but otherwise functional going.
     
  3. How long is this party and how much time are you going to devote to each aspect of the shooting? You can easily allot a minute, possibly two, to each sitting in the static location pics. I have no doubts that it is possible to force people through faster, but I've found that to be a good pace.

    I shot the Halloween party at my office this year. Much like your situation, they wanted static shots of anyone who wanted them and roaming shots throughout the building. We had ~60 kids in costume expected and about an hour and a half to work with. Working with an estimate of between 1 and 2 hours to shoot the studio stuff, I worked with a fellow photographer in the office to do the roaming shots. In the end, we had about 50 people show up for static shots and it took an hour and 15 minutes to get them all through. By myself, I never would have had a good time to shoot roaming shots while the party was actually ongoing.

    As for actual setup, I had two lights with umbrellas set up one on each side of the camera and a little above standing height. I went for something simple and turnkey in case the other photographer and I swapped duties (he had little experience with studio lighting). Keep your strobe power as low as possible to keep recycle time from becoming the big bottleneck. I also had a sign-in sheet as people entered so that I could trace photos back to subjects later.

    Hope this helps.

    Steven
     
  4. Can't help you with the battery pack or model release questions. Most event photographers have it in their contract that they can use any images that result for their own promotion, but don't know the ins and outs with the internet involved. If it is of major concern, contact a lawyer.

    Hopefully you have help, because doing both kinds of photography will be difficult unless you have allotted a specific time for the studio shots and it is at a time where photo ops don't normally happen--maybe during dinner? But then, if you need to shoot table shots, or speeches, that won't work either.

    As for a background light, unless you are photographing only couples or individuals half length, you won't have time for it. You may be asked to shoot a group of people, a couple, a family, or an individual, and full length, half length or head and shoulders. Adjusting a background light or hair light would be too time consuming. As for the backdrop, I always use the Christmas tree as a background. But if you must, I'd opt for muslin, light gray or light blue-ish, definitely not black or white. If in the evening and dressy, many will be wearing black (or at least, dark clothes) and women will be wearing heels (bad for paper). Without a background light, separation will be a problem with a black background, and white would be too much of a contrast.

    If you aren't selling the photos to the people directly, the info card would seem to be a bit much, in my opinion.

    You may be surprised at the kind of space that you'll be given to work with--I've photographed corporate holiday parties before, and for some, been given a very samll area to work with. If asked to photograph a group in a small area, you may find you need a wide angle and not your 70-200mm. Check beforehand before you bring the background stand and all the gear.
     
  5. Thanks for the advice. Yes, I am working this 4-hour event alone. Fortunately this is NOT a sit down dinner, so people will be roaming around all night.

    The event coordinator thought that perhaps the 1st 2 hours be devoted to static portrait shots (I guess as many as I can get in), then the last 2 hours to roam around for party-pics. I am selling these photos to the participants on the web, not on site, and I wonder which types of photos are more apt to sell? Any guess? Perhaps that's where I try to squeeze in some extra time.

    Another question...this will be in a hotel 'ballroom', so I'm thinking the ceiling is too high to bounce flash (for roaming party pics). Do you think the 580ex built-in diffuser shot directly or the built-in white bounce card at an angle would diffuse the light properly?

    Thanks again for the advice...if anyone else has any thoughts I'd be
    happy to hear them.
     
  6. You have plenty of equipment (as long as nothing breaks) and you have plenty of time as long as you bring your clone and can stop time :^).
    This type of job is why I like the Lumedyne system, I can use it for both types of work.
    As for your setup, I would use one light in as big a box or umbrella as you have room for. Leave a tripod at the site where your light is... it will help in establishing your area. Leave the strobe on and a sync cord (or radio slave) plugged into it. Predetermine what your settings will be (put tape on the floor for your subjects to stand on to keep the power settings relevant/consistent no matter who steps up). Then you'll know that you need a particular F-stop at whatever shutter speed gives you a good ambiant burn-in (use the tripod if it's slow. Its okay if they move, but your camera shouldn't move, except by design). Use iso 400. Do not use the modeling lights as this will through your (custom) WB to the strobe into ugly-land. Keep your fingers crossed and get at least $1000 for the night. Find a lab that will post them on-line and let the people order direct from them... Good luck... t
    p.s. For the wandering lost photographer images, use your 580 on a cord with a small diffuser of some sort, either hand held or just put the thing in the hotshoe with a Lumiquest mini softbox... t
    00AXIp-21042484.jpg
     
  7. should read "...throw your WB into ugly-land"... t
    00AXIw-21042584.jpg
     
  8. Make sure you have a wide lens. You'll likely be limited in the amount of space to shoot the "studio" shots. Real estate is valuable, and you probably won't get as much as you like. If you try to use a 70-200 on a digicam, you won't be able to go wide enough. I've used my 28-105 successfully in similar situations.
     

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