Warm, colourful, unique, fun, joy, togetherness.

These are a few words that describe the ‘tone’ of the images I am meant to capture as a student of Event Photography at the week long Camp Creative Festival in Bello. Camp Creative is a wonderful summer creative camp that is held every January in Bellingen. What I love about this event is that it attracts people of all demographics from Primary school kids to retirees. Many people make this an annual pilgrimage and we are back for a second time after the hiatus for Covid. It is a wonderful supportive environment with classes that encourage both novices and those who are proficient in their hobbies to have a go and be inspired at an affordable price.

You an learn to drum, dance, paint, sing, play a musical instrument, weave, or write your life story.

I have chosen Event Photography because capturing people at play is my passion. While I have shot festivals previously, this is the first time I am given a ring side seat at a concert. The concerts are held both at lunch time and at night and I knew that Event Photography could be both challenging and overwhelming.

It’s challenging because the quality and quantity of light at a nighttime indoor concert is less than ideal. There are many obstructions like mikes, music stands, instruments and people in your way and you can’t really ask them to move! You have to move around the scene in such a way that you don’t obstruct anyone’s views. It’s overwhelming because the scene in front of you is constantly changing and you could easily miss an important moment. But this isn’t a paid gig and everyone at Camp Creative is here to have fun.

The brief we are given requires us to capture the emotion, excitement and breadth of activity on site. We are asked to document both the audience engagement as well as the performers during the week. We are hoping to capture images that are both unique and relevant to the events so they can be used to build on the gallery of images from past camps. Some of the shots might be generic scenic shots or detail shots of the banners so they can be used in future promotional materials. I’m excited by the brief and know that having fun should be my main focus and starting point.

People will tell you that you need a fast lens for event photography. They are not wrong. Ideally I would have taken two camera bodies and two completely different lenses. I chose to make life simple and take my Canon R6 and shoot with my RF 24-105mm lens. At f/4, it’s not my fastest lens and perhaps I should have also done some shots with my 50mm prime. But I didn’t.

After chatting with one of my new mates who happened to be a sports photographer, I realised that the settings you would use for nature or sport would be ideal for this situation. Just let your ISO float to really high values. Some of the images I shot at night were at ISO 8000 and there is no visible noise. I use an aperture of f4, and shoot a stop underexposed because I don’t care about detail in the shadows. I use a fast shutter speed that changes but is always faster than 1/120 sec. I should have shot with spot focus on the highlights but I shot at evaluative. However, I had eye detection enabled and shot on Servo to make sure my camera stayed focussed as the person moved. The AI on the R6 is amazing and enables my images to be really sharp.

Shooting event photography for a week was an awesome experience of both focussing on the detail as well as capturing the energy of the big events. It can be outside your comfort zone but i have found that most people at events are really happy to be photographed. At camp creative, people who didn’t wish their image to be photographed were given a red dot. As photographers we were sure to keep an eye out for the red dots and always acknowledged with a nod and a smile that we were taking photographs.

To sign up for next year, visit their website:  https://campcreative.com.au/courses-2023/
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