Today I wanted to focus on the idea of how to capture something when you are taking part in it. This is always a big problem if you do not have any particular expertise in photography. You can spend a lot of time and effort trying to take pictures, only to end up with nothing but blurry snaps at the end. That’s when you realise that you missed out on enjoying the actual event while all of this was going on.
So how do you do it? Experience days are a growing trend, and are becoming more and more popular in the UK in particular. They are great for gifts to honour special occasions, and give participants the opportunity to do something that they never normally would. Some examples, if you have never come across them before, include driving supercars; going paragliding; balloon flights; parachute jumping; survival skills; and many more. If you’re curious, you can find a lot of examples through Into the Blue experience days, where they offer a large variety of options. Bear those examples in mind as we talk through the following steps to capturing your experience day.
1. Get the right equipment
First of all, you should be aware that using a smartphone camera will not, in most cases, give you the best results. A DSLR is almost always the best option, and it’s also somewhat more acceptable to use. It might be frowned on if you stop every few minutes to take a pixelated and blurry smartphone snap, but taking professional photos is a whole other matter. If you are going to be standing still or there will be lots of opportunities to stop, a DSLR will be best. Examples of these occasions might be cooking lessons or animal experiences.
If you are moving fast or might not be able to use your hands, then consider a GoPro or similar camera. This can be attached to a helmet, harness, or dashboard to film what is going on in front of you. Some examples will film continuous video for you, while others can be purchased which take one picture at an interval pre-set by you. These are great for capturing the experience exactly in the way that you saw it in person. It can also make for some great footage to share with friends later.
If you need to fix a camera to yourself in some way, sort this out beforehand too. Get clips, mountings, or whatever is needed to keep them securely in place. If you cannot afford to replace the camera, consider leaving it to a friend to film from the sidelines in more dangerous settings.
2. Find out about professional help
Could someone else take pictures for you in a professional capacity? Some venues and event teams will have their own staff on hand to take pictures. This can be expensive, but the benefits may be worth it. They will be able to get great professional quality shots, which may be better than those you take yourself. They can capture images of you, which may be difficult when you are the one with the camera. They can also do all of the work while you focus on enjoying the day.
Just be aware of one caveat: they are not employed by you, but rather by the event team. This means they could plausibly miss you or not get very good shots. That’s a risk you will need to take with this option.
3. Train before the day
If you are going to capture the event yourself, do not try to turn up on the day and use a new camera for the first time. You need to know what you are doing with it first! Start by taking some standard photos or videos, just in the comfort of your own home and without a challenging situation. Once you have the hang of that and everything is going the way you want it to, try to simulate the real experience. You can mount a camera on the dashboard of your own car, for example.
If anything goes wrong, search online for a solution to the problem and find out which of your settings need to be changed. You can also ask a professional for training and advice if you feel you need more personalised help.
4. Make sure you remember to have fun and let go
One of my favourite photography quotes is from Annie Leibovitz, via Robert Frank: ‘You can’t get every picture.’ It’s very real advice that makes a lot of sense even coming from a master of photography. Once you realise that you are just not going to be able to get every shot, it’s actually very comforting and reassuring. Relax! Enjoy your day! Take a few pictures here and there, but remember - even if you lose the enjoyment of the whole day and look at all of it through the lens, you still won’t capture everything. So why stress out about it? The best possible advice for experience days photography is to have fun, stop worrying, and know that with a bit of preparation, you will have some good shots at the end of the day.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored by Into The Blue.