Who doesn’t love an air-conditioned environment with lots of great music and dancing? Most indoor parties will fall into this category. However, photographers face a unique challenge. Because indoor lighting usually is worse than outdoor lighting, you will need to give special attention to the equipment you bring. Also, the space in an indoor environment can be somewhat limiting and cramped. Extra effort is needed from the photographer in order to prepare well for a photo session that is indoors.
Before any photo shoot, we highly recommend that you scout the location beforehand. This usually involves arriving early to the venue to get an idea of the lighting and various compositional angles. Look for areas that would work well as backdrops for photos. Walls that would work for backdrops have a clean background and no distracting elements such as cords or wires hanging on them. Also, during location scouting, it’s a good idea to look at what the venue would look like with all of the lights turned on. If there will be dancing during the night, then at least some of the lights will likely be turned off. This means that you’ll need to bring your own lighting equipment, such as an off-camera flash unit. Since indoor lighting can be hard for camera sensors to distinguish the white balance sometimes, it’s a good idea to bring a gray card. A gray card is a small flat object that helps the photographer have a middle gray reference for proper camera color balance in post-production. It’s important to include a photo of the gray card every time you move to an area with different lighting sources, as the exposure will change.
Photo booths at indoor parties are loads of fun! They are great because the photographer can set up the area beforehand with the proper backdrops and props. Lighting equipment can be brought in and set up to the photographer’s liking. Having the subjects come to the photographer instead of the other way around is a great way to keep the guests active and busy. By having props, it keeps people excited and on their feet. When people are excited, they like to include their friends and family. Naturally, this creates a cycle where people will continually come to the photo booth with friends to get their photos taken.
Always coordinate with the person in charge of the party regarding the party booth. Does the party have a certain theme? Is it an 80s party? Is the purpose of the party to get singles to mingle? Look for the appropriate colors, designs, and props to fit the occasion and purpose. To set up a photo booth, remember to bring the following: a backdrop, props, an off-camera flash or two, and your creativity! Be sure to take test shots before the party to ensure the lighting and the setup look how you intended it to look. As the night goes on, it’s good to double-check every now and then that the backdrop or lighting equipment hasn’t been changed moved around accidentally.
Dancing is an integral part of many indoor parties. It’s the part that many people look forward to, especially the younger crowd. To capture these memorable scenes on camera, it requires you to be a part of the action. Jump in the middle of the dance floor and bring your camera with you. Remember to bring an external flash, and point it upwards to bounce the light off of the ceiling. This creates more natural-looking light. The other option if you didn’t bring an external flash is to use a very fast lens such as the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM. Either way, the important thing is to not be afraid of the crowd and the action. Try to find a higher perspective to shoot from, such as from on top of a chair. Action shots inside of a dark room are some of the hardest shots to take as the photographer, but they are well worth the effort. It’s not very often that you see what you look like on the dance floor, and that appreciation extends to the photographer.