Night clubs are always a great place to take pictures in, because of all the energy. In return, you can really capture some great candid memories. Some also do it because it’s a great way to expose your work to a larger audience, especially now with social media. I do it just as favors for friends because I don’t like risking my camera. But when I do take my camera out to a club, it’s always worth it.
Here are a couple of pointers when you plan to take your camera to the club.
1. Define your point of view.
A lot of photographers are hired to go to the night club specifically to take photos. It means that there is a certain barrier between them and the subject because they will most likely be posed. There is nothing wrong with that but you lose a lot of energy in those photos and they are very generic. However, most clubs don’t allow DSLR’s and so being hired does give you an advantage.
In my personal opinion, it is still better to find ways to bring your DSLR in a club without being hired. You have a fresh perspective and can focus on capturing unposed portraits. It’s all about capturing memories and you can focus on your friends. If you aren’t a hired photographer, I would avoid wandering outside your group of friends because you might be thought of as a creep.
I would suggest investing in a flash that can rotate its head vertically and horizontally. This enables you to bounce your flash so that it doesn’t create a harsh lighting on your subjects.
Bouncing your flash basically means directing your flash towards the ceiling or a wall. In return, your flash’s light travels more distance, making it softer and more spread out. Your light will be more diffused and thus, less hotspots. Hotspots are harsh light on a subject (usually on a person’s nose). You also don’t get that annoying red eye that you usually have to edit out.
3. Flash Sync
Flash sync speed is the fastest shutter speed you can use with a flash. Most off camera flashes will have a maximum flash sync of 1/250th of a second. If you want to capture the motion of the lights and the atmosphere, then you would have to use a shutter speed slower than 1/250th. If you want to completely freeze all of the action, then use 1/250. I often use a slower shutter speed so that I can get those nice laser lights that add a lot of mood to the photos.
You usually just bring one lens to a night club because you don’t want to be bringing a bag with you. Therefore in my opinion, the best lens for a night club would be a lens that can do it all. I usually carry around either my DX 18-200mm lens or FX 28-300mm. These super zooms/wide angle will make sure that you don’t miss a thing.
Do not worry about depth of field and aperture as much because your flash/light will be responsible for separating your subject from the crowd. Your flash has a certain reach due to its power and therefore will only illuminate a certain part of the picture. You can control this to add focus to your subject. However that being said, my personal choice for aperture is as wide as your lens can go (low f number).
5. Friendly reminders
Don’t drink and shoot: You know how they say don’t drink and drive? The same rules apply when taking photos in a club. You don’t want to mix drinks and taking photos. The last thing you would want is to damage your camera or lose it while being drunk. If you do plan to drink, have a sober friend help keep an eye out for your camera (just like a designated driver).
Bring a Handkerchief: Getting drinks spilled on you is always a risk at a party. It’s even more of a risk when you have your camera with you. Most DSLR’s are weather-proof and can afford to get a little wet. However, you would want to dry up that alcohol as soon as possible and that is where a handkerchief comes in handy. If anything though, keep your distance from people that are too drunk.