Of all the types of photography, event photography is not only the most diverse but also undeniably the most difficult. An event photographer has to be quick on their feet, and an expert with light. They also have to be great with people and possess a long attention span. Event photographers often have only one chance to get the shot before the opportunity is lost.

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Here are 11 event photography tips that will give you a leg up at your next event or party and help you produce a series of great photos that tell the full story of the day.

1. Shoot! Shoot! Shoot!

This is the DSLR age, which means that you have the opportunity to take hundreds of photos at no additional cost to you. Set your camera on continuous shooting. Capture twelve frames of the same scene. You’ll be surprised how little changes in expression and atmosphere can make or break a shot.

2. Make a list, and go beyond the list

Before the day of the event, you need to have a plan. Create a list of must-have shots, and make them a priority. Many times, especially if it’s a wedding, the client will present a list of shots that they want you to capture. This is your mission—you have to fulfill it.

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Now, having said that, just because you have a list does not mean that you have to do only what it says. Stay alert. Be observant of changes in atmosphere, and look for the unexpected moments on the side and artfully capture them. This will allow you to create a more complete story of the day, something your client will thank you for, and most importantly, give them reason to refer you to their friends.

3. Scope out the venue

This won’t always be possible, especially if it’s a private setting. However, if you do have the chance to see the venue before the event, go at the same time of day the event will be and see what it will be like. This will allow you to plan properly for light and space scenarios. You’re already going to have to think fast on the big day, so give yourself the advantage by scoping out the venue beforehand.

4. Talk to the client

They are the most important person or group—find out what they want, and make sure you can give it to them. See if they have a list of “must-have shots,” or if there is any other special information that you need to know. The more you communicate, the better chance of producing photos that will make them happy.

5. Focus on faces

Although group shots are fun, sometimes the personal aspect of the event gets lost in the sea of faces. Create dynamic portraits by getting close to a chosen subject, or, if you want to catch them in a natural pose, use a zoom lens. These images will put the humanity back into the photographs.

6. Three shot-series

As the event photographer, your job is to tell a story. By setting it up in groups of three, you are creating the before, during, and after of a specific moment and injecting life into your images.

7. Don’t leave out the backdrop

Although the most important part of the event is the people, your client has undoubtedly put countless hours into choosing and decorating the venue. So make sure you include it. This is one of the tips for event photography you must know. However, this doesn’t mean you need ten shots of the chandeliers. Include the settings, but do it in moderation.

8. Be early, leave late

Throughout the event, there will be an infinite number of unexpected moments. The longer you are there, the more opportunity you will have to capture more of them. This is especially true at the end of the party; people will become used to your presence after a while, and let their guard down. This will give you the chance to create interesting portraits that you would miss by leaving early.

9. Think “candid”

People are trained to pose for photographs, but this is something you want to avoid as much as possible. Capture people when they’re most natural, when they’re not looking, and your shots will be much more appealing.

10. Be inconspicuous

This ties into the last tip. If you want the best shots, you need to move through the crowd fluidly, unnoticed. Wear appropriate attire that allows you to blend in with the environment. Use lightweight equipment and bounce your flash, so the light doesn’t annoy people. If people don’t take notice of you, you will be able to catch them at their most natural state, which leads to better photos.

11. Learn to enjoy it

Event photography can be a nerve-wracking experience for new photographers, and sometimes even experienced ones. Learn to enjoy the excitement and spontaneity of it, and just relax. If you are calm and collected, the people around you will be more receptive to you. Plus, like many things, the more you do it, the easier it will get. Getting some awesome event photography tips is also going to help a lot.