Tips for Shooting Indoor Events

When photographing indoor events, we are often less than pleased with the resulting images. They are often dark and grainy, and many time the colors just don’t seem right.

Lighting conditions vary greatly in theaters, convention centers, sports arenas, and other public spaces. Not only might they be dimly lit, but different types of light fixtures cast a different color of light on your subjects.

With that in mind, here are a few tips to help you capture better images.

– With the growing popularity of cell phone cameras, people are often lured into a false sense of security when taking pictures at indoor events. Sure, they are real quick and convenient, but they cannot compare to the quality of a digital camera. The sensors are very small and the flashes (if any) are very weak. They work fine for Facebook and posting online, but fall short of expectations for prints and enlargements.

– Indoor shots are often blurry and out-of-focus, often due to the slow shutter speeds needed for low-light shooting. If the venue is poorly lit, you could try using a flash. An add-on flash is better than the camera’s pop-up flash, for it offers more power, and being further above the lens, it reduces the likelihood of “red-eye”. You can also try to increase your camera’s ISO setting (the sensitivity of the sensor to light) for better exposures. Be careful, though…higher ISO settings can add “noise” or muddiness to your image.


– If the color of your image is “off”, you should try changing the camera’s White Balance setting. Find the menu or button labeled WB, and try the different settings until you get a more accurate color tone. Fluorescent lights cast a blue-green tint on scenes. Tungsten or incandescent lights cast a warmer orange tint. Adjusting the white balance lets the camera compensate to get better skin tones.


– When posing groups, often a tripod and remote shutter release can help. They hold the camera steady for sharper images, and allow you to focus your attention on the smiles. Switching your shutter release to “continuous” allows you to quickly take multiple shots, increasing your chance of getting all the eyes open.

– Photographers who shoot weddings and events have found that lenses with fast apertures (f/2.8 or faster) deliver better images in low light settings. The larger glass elements perform better with less light, allowing for faster shutter speeds and lower ISO settings. These will result in better quality images and less blurring of action. The down side is the higher cost of these lenses.

My best advice is to practice! Know how to change your shooting modes, how to adjust the ISO and white balance, and to do them quickly and in the dark. If you can, visit the venue before the event and try to see what the lighting will be like. A little bit of preparation can go a long ways toward getting some lasting images!

By Guest Blogger Marty DeWitt

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