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Author Topic: first paid gig need help  (Read 3246 times)

KKCFamilyman

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first paid gig need help
« on: July 19, 2013, 11:10:04 AM »
I am doing a friends birthday party of 4yr old twins. I am being paid and was told to get candids of games and group shots.

I was bringing the following and was curious if there are any suggestions, tips or lens/flash I should rent.

5d3
24-70 II
35mm Sigma 1.4
70-200 2.8II
600ex flash with stofen cap

I know that would cover it I assume but do not have anything longer than 35mm for shallow dof shots or just standard portraits. Also they want pictures of the cake and such. Just curious if there are any suggestions like the 100mm L macro, 50mm 1.2, 135mm f2. Those were lenses I was looking into anyway but do not want to buy just for this in a rush. I would rent one or none. Any thoughts would be appreciated. Or even tricks since I have a hard time balancing bounce flash for an even exposure. I know you here in the forum have said off camera flash but what do you do at a kids birthday party in a home without looking over the top?
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first paid gig need help
« on: July 19, 2013, 11:10:04 AM »

MrFotoFool

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Re: first paid gig need help
« Reply #1 on: July 19, 2013, 11:42:03 AM »
You already have three lenses which IMO is too many to be switching around (especially for a kids birthday party).  Do you really want to try more?  As for cake, no reason you should not be able to crop in post to get a good closeup.

I have the stofen flash cap too and found it does next to nothing - almost the same as shooting the flash bare.  If you plan to do a lot of flash work I think the only investment you may need is a better diffuser (Gary Fong seems to be the industry standard).

Swphoto

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Re: first paid gig need help
« Reply #2 on: July 19, 2013, 11:58:10 AM »
The 24-70 is my favorite lens for events like this - I have the old one, so your II should do great. I don't think you need any additional gear.

You don't want to switch lenses much - the situation changes too quickly with the kids running around. The 24-70 will let you get nice group shots of the kids playing, and get in tight (enough - might have to crop a bit) for individual candids.

Flash use depends on the preferences of the parents, and the existing light at the location. For candids and play shots sometimes I crank the ISO, and others times I use bounce for most shots. For group shots I find a good place to bounce the flash since I'm likely shooting @ f/5.6 or f/8. If they want to avoid the flash outside of group shots, don't be afraid to use ISO 3200/6400.

Beware of the red AF beam from people with their P&S cameras - it will ruin many a shot - be ready to fire after you see it turn off (or after their flash fires).

kennephoto

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Re: first paid gig need help
« Reply #3 on: July 19, 2013, 11:59:32 AM »
Must be one heck of a bday party! I bet you would be fine with the 24-70 and 70-200. Maybe rent a second body if you don't have one so you don't need to switch lenses making it way easier to capture shots that happen fast. 2.8 will be shallow enough I would assume just frame it tighter or stand back and use the tele to compress the background.
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paul13walnut5

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Re: first paid gig need help
« Reply #4 on: July 19, 2013, 12:00:39 PM »
body, 24-70, flash.  Tall stand to put flash off camera in corner of room behind a chair or something so it's not a trip hazard, bounced off ceiling.  Don't bother with the stofen, don't need it off camera.  Let the light bounce and fill the room.  No ratios between subject and background, no shadow problems, no kids upset at flashguns going right off in their face.

24 is wide enough and if 70mm isn't close enough then you've the option of cropping with all those MP's.

f1.4?  Aye.  Try keeping kids in focus at f1.4.

No lens switching.  Keep it simple. Simple simple simple.  You'll spend less time panicking and more time getting great pics.  Have a couple of spare sets of flash batteries.


cmullins

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Re: first paid gig need help
« Reply #5 on: July 19, 2013, 12:16:41 PM »
As the father of twins, and a frequent birthday & child photographer, there are something things to keep in mind.

1. Kids move fast. Faster than you.
2. You'll miss quite a bit no matter what happens.
3. Changing lenses won't do you any good, as it's too slow. You can do this between sets (Play -> Cake -> Presents), but don't expect to do it much.
4. A flash is more trouble than it's worth.

When I shoot these events, I shoot all the candid's with my 5DIII and the 70-200 F/2.8. I leave it in Aperture mode at F/2.8, enable auto-ISO up to 25k, shoot available light, and set AFS focus. Having a long zoom is a huge help, as I can shoot far more of those fast moving little kids.

When it's time for the birthday cake / singing, I generally use the same lens. I am mostly isolating the kids and not getting group shots. When it comes time to blow out the candles, I bust as many shots as possible to try get one with the right expression.

If I need group shots, I use the 24-105 F/4L. If I had the 24-70 I would probably use that, but that extra range is usually more important.

In terms of flash photography, I find it's horrible for candid kid shots. Kids won't look at you because they don't want their eyes to hurt, the flash recycle time is too slow, and it puts too many limits on shutter speed (unless you use hi-speed sync). The more you can blend in and be ignored by the kids the better, and a flash will not let you blend in at all.

Key tips:

  • Shoot the kids from their eye level or slightly below. This means you're lying down or sitting down. NOT standing. This makes a huge difference, but will also slow you down making the range of the 70-200 even more important.
  • Relax. Be friendly. Enjoy. Engage. It's you're a stressed out jerk, the kids will pick up on it.
  • Print a book after, if your budget allows for it. With Lightroom this is trivially easy.
  • Don't rent lenses. Don't buy new gear. Don't stress over things. Don't watch the clock.
  • Like a wedding shoot, have the parents give you a list of group shots they want. Insist on this, and then get those shots.
  • Bring bunnies. :-)

Note: I have never, ever, gotten a great candid shot of two kids at once - and I have twins of my own and lots of time to practice! You cannot shoot twins at F/2.8 as the DOF is too shallow, which means that great bokeh is out. They never, ever, smile at exactly the same time and look in the same direction. I can get two smiles, but they're looking different places. I can get both looking the same way, but only one smile. It's photographically very frustrating. Occasionally I'll get everything right and realize my camera was still at F/2.8 and one of them is slightly out of focus. Or I'll be at F/11 and the image is so cluttered with background material that it's just too distracting. For shooting group shots, I have found I need to stage it rather than getting candids. With a pair of 4 year olds, this should be pretty easy.

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« Last Edit: July 19, 2013, 12:32:04 PM by cmullins »

distant.star

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Re: first paid gig need help
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2013, 12:18:03 PM »
.
I agree with Paul.

First, relax, it's just a kid birthday party. You're not shooting the royal family for posterity. Parents will not be criticizing your pictures for white balance, DOF, etc.

You've got a 5D3 and the 24-70 II -- let them do the work while you just have fun.

Frankly, in my experience, your demeanor in dealing with kids will be more important than any equipment issue.

Take a deep breath. The night before, make sure your equipment is clean and in good order, and don't worry about it.

Have fun with the kids!!

One other thought -- you may want to include a photo book with the package you present. I don't know if the parents have thought of this or if you have. I had a coupon for a free Shutterfly book and I decided to try it with a surprise birthday party I did for friends. I'd never done a photo book before, but it was pretty simple and my friends are thrilled to have something they can pull out and show people for many years to come. They told me they wish they had enough money to send a copy of the book to everyone who was there. You can do a 20-page book for under $30.

body, 24-70, flash.  Tall stand to put flash off camera in corner of room behind a chair or something so it's not a trip hazard, bounced off ceiling.  Don't bother with the stofen, don't need it off camera.  Let the light bounce and fill the room.  No ratios between subject and background, no shadow problems, no kids upset at flashguns going right off in their face.

24 is wide enough and if 70mm isn't close enough then you've the option of cropping with all those MP's.

f1.4?  Aye.  Try keeping kids in focus at f1.4.

No lens switching.  Keep it simple. Simple simple simple.  You'll spend less time panicking and more time getting great pics.  Have a couple of spare sets of flash batteries.
Walter: Were you listening to The Dude's story? Donny: I was bowling. Walter: So you have no frame of reference here, Donny. You're like a child who wanders into the middle of a movie and wants to know...

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Re: first paid gig need help
« Reply #6 on: July 19, 2013, 12:18:03 PM »

Random Orbits

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Re: first paid gig need help
« Reply #7 on: July 19, 2013, 12:30:31 PM »
Mixed light looks bad, so if you are going to use flash, gel your flash and bounce as much as you can.  If you want ambient light for the background and it changes from room to room, I'd let the camera do the exposure (Av) and play with EC/FEC until you get the mix you want.  Use ISO to get acceptable shutter speeds and trade it with noise.  Inside, I like to use the 24-70 with some select use of a fast prime for some shallow DOF shots, especially if the background is close to the subject and cluttered.  I tend to use the fast primes more if it's really dim and flash is not practical.

For outdoor activities where there is more space, I like start wider to get some environmental shots and then end up using the 70-200 for the rest.

sanj

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Re: first paid gig need help
« Reply #8 on: July 19, 2013, 12:31:15 PM »
I would avoid getting too artsy. I would carry the camera, 24-70 and the flash ONLY. Less gear is better.

Buy knee pads - they are your best aid as most of the times you will be on your knees.

Wear a party cap and mingle so the kids are not cautious. Depending upon the light situation I would key in -2 exposure on the flash so it does over power.

Enjoy!

mrzero

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Re: first paid gig need help
« Reply #9 on: July 19, 2013, 12:32:27 PM »
I don't know how you'd be able to use the 70-200.  Last birthday party I shot, I was constantly getting elbowed by all the aunt millies with their P&S, phones, and ipads. 
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bdunbar79

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Re: first paid gig need help
« Reply #10 on: July 19, 2013, 12:38:22 PM »
I've shot tons of birthday parties with a 5D3, 24-70L II, flash.  That's all you need.
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cmullins

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Re: first paid gig need help
« Reply #11 on: July 19, 2013, 12:44:41 PM »
I don't know how you'd be able to use the 70-200.  Last birthday party I shot, I was constantly getting elbowed by all the aunt millies with their P&S, phones, and ipads.

I use the 70-200 almost exclusively at parties, and have never had an issue. To some degree having the Big White Lens on there says to people, "I'm the pro here. Now please leave me alone and get out of my way".

Clearly it also depends on the size of the place. IF it's one bedroom with 50 people, nothing short of a macro lens is going to work. If it's a big play space (MyGym, Gymboree, etc) then the 70-200 might not be long enough.

The only problem I've ever run into is the minimum focusing distance if the kids are running towards me.

dexstrose

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Re: first paid gig need help
« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2013, 01:10:10 PM »
The one thing I did wrong when I did a young birthday shoot was use a lens that wasn't fast enough. Even at 125 at f4, iso 6400 wasn't fast enough. I had bad lighting and in doors at a jumpy house. I also found running around with a flash would be too to hold for three hours, so I only used it for the cake and posed shots near the end.

Now I just bring one fast glass and try to stay around 500 when shooting pictures of crazy moving kids.

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Re: first paid gig need help
« Reply #12 on: July 19, 2013, 01:10:10 PM »

KKCFamilyman

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Re: first paid gig need help
« Reply #13 on: July 20, 2013, 12:41:12 AM »
Thanks everyone for all the suggestions. I think i will do the 24-70 and have my flash handy. I will go for the70-200 if it goes outside. They said there will be lots of games. Not sure how much space and how many people I will need to include. I was going for the 50l, or 100 macro eventually myself and was considering it for this excursion but if I do I will not plan on this for the event.
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stipotle

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Re: first paid gig need help
« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2013, 02:52:43 AM »
This may be obvious, I dunno - but I don't think it was mentioned:
Aside from the gear (I agree that you are over prepared - the gear you have available will do you plenty),

I would recommend you make sure you do your best to know what's happening next.
Because the "action" will happen at a frantic pace, the more you can get yourself into position before the action, the easier it is to stay calm when it's actually happening. (And then get the candid shot you are looking for.)

Good luck! Have fun!

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Re: first paid gig need help
« Reply #14 on: July 20, 2013, 02:52:43 AM »