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The Art of Festival Photography!

Top Tips for the best festival photography from Venture Studios...

Festival season is upon us and if you are off to any kind of festival this summer, you are in for a great time! There are so many different festivals to choose from these days: ranging from the well-known big music festivals to folk festivals, arts, dance, comedy, food, storytelling and many smaller family-oriented festivals that manage to combine a bit of everything!

Whatever type of festival you are going to, you will want to have photos as memories of your happy times. As will everyone else!

You can visualise it now - being surrounded by people constantly snapping away on their phones. It can become very annoying. Also, whilst you do want to bring lots of lovely photos back with you, having your phone with you can sometimes make you feel pressured to be capturing every single moment. Which, ironically, can lead to you not enjoying those moments as much as you could because you are trying to take photos all the time instead of just chilling out.

Indeed there is a definite art to festival photography: things that you can do to ensure that you get some really good shots on your phone whilst still enjoying every minute of the festival. So here are our Top Ten hints and tips to point you in the right direction:

  1. Be realistic
    We don’t want to rain on your parade, but at a big festival you are unlikely to get any truly amazing shots of the artists in action. Unless you are right at the front with a powerful zoom lens you are unlikely to be able to get clearly defined shots. Also bear in mind that there are likely to be many professional shots available to view online after the event. So a more realistic aim would be to get fun shots of your friends before the act with the stage visible in the background, then enjoy every minute of the act itself.

  2. Slow hand
    It depends on the kind of shots you want, but for a clear shot you need to hold your hands very steady. So there is no point waving your phone around snapping away wildly unless you particularly want blurred arty shots. It is particularly important to keep your hands steady if you are trying to take photos in low light. If possible find a solid surface to rest your phone on, or consider using a mini tripod.

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  4. See the light
    Getting the lighting right makes all the difference between a good shot and a great one. During the day you need to check the position of the sun and ensure that your subject is not either in glare or in shadow. If the sun is too bright then this could make it difficult to distinguish different parts of the resulting photograph. On the other hand if there is not enough light then some elements many virtually disappear. So always check your lighting and if it is not clear and consistent then consider using flash.

  5. The rule of thirds
    When composing a shot, it is useful to bear in mind the “rule of thirds”. Visualise your image divided into a grid of 9 squares: think of a noughts and crosses grid. Some phones have a screen grid that you can turn on to help you with this. To create a balanced image it is best to position the important elements - including your main subject - either along the lines, or at the points where they meet.

  6. Focus
    Also while composing your shot, make sure that you focus on the main subject. The way to do this varies from phone to phone, for example on some phones you can tap the screen where you want the main subject of the photo to be. You may also be able to blur the background to bring the main subject more sharply into focus. It is well worth taking the time to explore the different functions of your phone camera before the festival, so that you are familiar with what it can and cannot do.

  7. Check the background
    When taking a photograph remember to check not just your subject but also what is going on in the background. This is particularly important in a festival situation when there’s lots going on around you. A background that is either too busy or contains a major distraction can really spoil your photograph.

  8. Don’t over zoom!
    Whilst focussing is important, don’t be tempted to zoom in too much. The resulting shot is likely to be blurry because the zoom on most mobile phones will crop the image as you zoom in, resulting in loss in image quality. If you want a good close up shot you need to be close to the subject rather than trying to zoom in from afar.

  9. Go panoramic
    Whilst you need to avoid over zooming, do take time to explore other photography modes such as panorama. This is a great choice for festival photography because it can give you a wonderful overview of the scene, and bring back memories of what it was like to actually be there. Panorama mode enables you to pan the camera slowly across a wide scene to capture it all. So you could get a great panoramic shot of the audience and the stage which would be too wide to fit into one normal shot.

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  11. A different perspective
    As well as experimenting with panoramic shots, why not have a go at some photography from different perspectives. Instead of just taking whatever is in front of you, try either getting down low and shooting from ground level or climbing up higher - or using a selfie stick - to get more of an aerial shot. This is where phone cameras really come into their own: their size and portability means that you can use them in all kinds of situations where a larger camera wouldn’t work.

  12. Don’t over process
    Last but not least, try to avoid over processing your photography. Your phone is likely to have a number of photo editing and processing features, and there are also a wide variety of apps available. But over-processed photos can end up looking too unreal, and may not bring back true memories of your happy festival times. So if you do add a bit of editing to your photos make sure that it enhances the best qualities of the original photo rather than turning it into something that it is not.

We hope that you have a wonderful time at your festival(s) this summer, and that these hints and tips help you to enjoy every minute and still bring back some amazing photography to give you #memories forever.

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