Say, Paneer!

Just the other day I was thinking, besides my recent trip overseas, I don’t have many opportunities to take photographs of events or parties. Then I get a text from Bidi asking if I could take photos at a pre-wedding lunch being held the next day in honor of her brother, Ayan, and soon-to-be sister-in-law, Nikoletta. Perfect!

This is only the second time I have been asked to take photos so I was a little nervous and still have many questions that need to be answered. The first time around I asked Sonu for tips. He recommended shooting on manual with a 50mm prime accompanied by an external flash with a make shift shadow diffuser. I used to shoot manual for everything until I got the 60D and for some reason I switched to Av.
I got to the party a little late because I was reminded that this party was operating on CPT. To my surprise, guests had already arrived and there was little time for test shots. I was immediately put to work by Mom and Ayan to photograph some desserts. I kept thinking, how do I make this plate of..(I still don’t know what I was photographing) desserts look delicious? Initially I kept trying to put the whole plate in the frame, then later during a second attempt, I think I got it.
Before this blog, I thought I was pretty good at taking photos, but this was a wake up call that I was ill-prepared and had much more to learn. Endlessly browsing others‘ food blogs and websites doesn’t make you a professional.
I like to capture subjects candidly, but it can be tough with a giant SLR around your neck and neon green socks that I mistakenly worn. When guests see me coming towards them, I usually get one of two reactions: shifting their body and shying away from the camera or subtly trying to pose and sitting upright.
For an at-home party, I wanted to get snapshots of guests as they arrived. Hosts greeting the guests, hugs & kisses, gifts and food. My question is, if your party is in the daytime hours and the sun is shining so brightly behind the guests at the door, how do you capture those already inside without those waiting outside looking like washed out zombies? Especially the bride-to-be.
Another problem I encountered were the in between expressions. I so carefully had bad timing that I often caught subjects blinking or mid sentence. It’s always awkward. I don’t believe my shutter speed was to blame. I think I’ll just always bring a 32GB memory card and shoot multiple frames per second? I look forward to the nightmare of sifting through double or triple photos.
Let’s talk hardware now. As I mentioned, 50mm prime was recommended by Sonu. At my first event, I had the problem of being too close to a subject and the inability to get ‘the whole picture’ which is why I started out shooting this lunch w my 18-135mm. I figured 18mm would allow me to photograph groups of people at a time. Are photographers using wider prime lenses? I noticed anytime I zoomed into a shot, my light source was lessened and I got dark photos. At Bidisha’s house I knew she had lots of light from windows which I thought would help me out, but I have an external flash, light from windows hindered. I caught back lighting with almost every shot. I think changing to the 50mm prime halfway through lunch dramatically brightened up my photos.
Well, here’s to Ayan & Nikoletta! Congratulations and thank you for allowing me to photograph!  And to many more opportunities. Cheers!

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