(Club) Photography Preview 1 -Article by 'the pro'
Exposure control that works
-aesthetic & composition
What makes up the aesthetic? Capturing the aesthetic consists of developing a
conscious “eye” and eye that is always looking around for compositions that will
work. With technical mastery, one can synergize that with the visual to create
an overall effect (ie. Technique #1). You can get a strong idea of composition
(or pleasing to the eye) that works through our many examples in the 50 shots
that work section.
There are two different ways of photographing
capturing the current events as they happen or (documentary or journalistic
creating an intentional photograph (directive style)
As a producer, you want to keep an aesthetic state of mind (constantly looking
for good shots), whether you’ll be capturing events as they happen or
proactively setting the shot up the way you want it (ie. Group shots where you
can have control). You should always be looking for opportunities.
The greatest photographers have mastered the aesthetic and can produce on a
level where they can convey a feeling and stir emotion from a single photograph.
This is the ultimate. As a club photographer you will be primarily capturing
what is going on. However, you can gain control in creating the result of the
photograph by controlling the different elements, like composition, exposure
(technical) and timing.
Elements of club photography consists of these main factors which you seek
1. Exposure (technical area consisting of: aperture, available light and shutter
2. composition (or aesthetic)
A great photographer will take advantage of all three areas whether they be a
documentary style of “capturing the moment” as it happens or the “directive”
style of deliberately pulling together a shot (like directing people where to
stand). Music videos and film turn out so good because they are the “directive”
style of production (add to that great post-production and editing) where the
photographer/cinematographer/producer/director has control over the elements.
With documentary style you have to work with the environment as best you can as
you are there to capture it. Once again, in the club environment you can do both
directive and documentary style photography.
So, looking at the elements of club photography again and what you want to do…
1. technical mastery over the exposure to come up with the best possible
2. the composition to always pull the shot together the best possible way
3. An innate sense or intuition of timing or knowing the exact moment to
capture the shot
Exposure is the captured result on the negative. The technical elements that
attribute to this are shutter speed, aperture setting and the image (or light)
itself. The camera will capture what you want it to if you have control. You are
the creator here. We touched on exposure before in a previous section. As a club
photographer, we’ll give you some general standards on how we deal with
exposure. Controlling this technical aspect is still the most challenging aspect
for some to deal with and may take years to master and fully understand. For
example, you may be prolific visually but struggle with the mathematical like
and reverse-thinking of f/stops, shutter speed, and over/underexposure
Because we don’t know everything technically, but have produced consistent
effective results, we’ll tell you what we know and will update in future
editions with other seasoned industry photographer’s and our new knowledge.
Shutter speed: in a club environment, slower is generally better. This way you
can capture movement of dancers, people or lights and convey more of the
“under-the-influence” effect. A slower shutter speed combined with a large
aperture (ie. 2.8) will capture more information or light quicker than say the
same shutter speed and smaller aperture (3. ) We will alter our shutter speeds
from 1/100 anywhere on down to a couple seconds but usually keep it under a
second (ie. 1/30). This deliberation will give you the more “club-effect” feel
that you’re probably looking for. This isn’t the races so you don’t need to use
fast shutter speeds very often.
Ideally you’ll use a front-curtain sync which will set the flash off immediately
upon pressing the shutter so you can get your timing down and then with the
slower shutter speed and larger aperture you can catch other movement and light
(ie.) This will take some practice to get it down so you’re on target most of
the time. If you just want to keep everything simple or you don’t have those
advanced features you could just keep shooting at 1/250 consistently and let the
camera figure the aperture (on TV or time value mode). This way you can work on
your timing and capturing the “peak” or “just-right” moments. (show ie.’s of bad
Once again, you will be using the flash about 95% of the time (at least as a
fill to light your main subject) so this cover the lighting portion of the
exposure. Keep in mind our technique for capturing the on-scene & background
So once you got the technical exposure down to a working system that will
continuously perform (expose your shots), you can keep working on that “eye” of
yours and its golden sense of timing. (Or if you’re starting out you may just
want to stick with automatic exposure anyways for a while or at a speed of
To check out Orion's extensive work
as a club photographer visit ClubCast.Tv
Or check out the gallery for his
Club Portfolio (included in the 2,000+ Images CD when
you order the Photoshop
- Orion Williams copyright 2004
Part II of this article.
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