10 Tips for Taking the Best Photos at Any Event

Camera ipad and notebooks

Have you ever taken photos at an event only to look them over at home and find all kinds of flaws?

Maybe the kids’ eyes glow red like vampires or the wedding kiss is as blurry as a moving car. Perhaps the photos are simply not as exciting as you originally thought.

Well, fear not! There are photography tips that anyone can put to use. Whether you’re snapping photos at a birthday or an anniversary, it’s important to have those moments captured in the greatest way possible.

Read on to for 10 tips that will help you take the best photos at any event or party.

Tip #1: Know a Bit About How Your Phone Works

Turning on your phone’s gridlines can help you take a more even picture. The gridlines can also help you take pictures that align with a theory called the rule of thirds. Long story short, the main parts of a photo should be on the lines or where the lines intersect, rather than within one of the squares.

rule of thirds on smartphone
Here’s how to do it:
  • If you’re using a Samsung Galaxy, open your camera app, click on ‘Settings,’ scroll down and switch on the ‘grid lines’ option.
  • For an iPhone, got to ‘Settings,’ scroll down and tap ‘Photos & Camera,’ then scroll down some more and turn ‘Grid’ on.

Although most phones have a zoom option, you should try getting physically closer instead. Any zooming instantly lowers the quality of a photo. If  you zoom in more than a little you’ll likely end up with a photo that sort of resembles an 8-bit character from Super Mario Bros.

In order to get a clear picture, it’s important to make sure the phone knows what to focus on. With most modern phones, all you have to do is tap the screen with your fingertip right before you take the photo.

Stop! Before you start taking any photos, you should use a clean, soft cloth to wipe the lens of the phone’s camera. Unlike conventional cameras that have lens covers, a phone’s lens is usually out in the open and likely to gather dirt and dust. Those orange orbs you’ve been photographing in the sky might be a sprinkle of Cheeto powder left over from your last snack.

Tip #2: Unique Posed Photos

Everybody has seen the group photo where people stand next to each other while some kneel in the foreground. It’s simply not very interesting to look at, even if everyone is making a funny face.

Rather, treat your friends and family like a pop band. Ask them to pose in the foreground, the background, or anywhere they please. Have them scatter or have them group together in a unique formation.

In addition, try getting up close to a couple people. The eyes and face are windows into the soul. A close-up can speak volumes and give more details to appreciate.

Alternatively, you could give the photo breathing room. For example, you can let more of the sky in or a larger portion of a wall. Negative space can add an interesting flair to an otherwise standard photo.

Another way to take a unique and eye-catching photo is to play with the angle.

Tip #3: Artistic Angles

Usually our instinct tells us to take a photo head-on, but this is a recipe for boredom.

Instead, look around you for different vantage points. Get low, get high, and mix it up! Even in a flat plain with nothing to climb, you can still reach your hands up, tilt the camera, or crouch.

When it comes to creativity, you shouldn’t be afraid to get your hands a little dirty. It’ll be worth the perfect photos.

But that’s not all. Even when it’s as straight as a board, taking a photo off-center can automatically make it more interesting to the eye. Try combining all these options into something totally original.

If you want to take your photos to an even greater level, you can also try experimenting with other camera features like panoramic shots. You’ll need to have a steady hand and plenty of space, so take time experimenting with this shot before you go to the event.

Tip #4: Flash and Natural Lighting

Although it might seem counterintuitive, using flash inside is a big no-no. But flash is by no means useless. It often comes in handy when shooting photos outside in the daylight. Why? Where there’s a lot of light, there can be a lot of shadows, and the flash feature is able to get rid of those that obscure or distract from your friends and family.

The truth is, natural lighting always looks the best. Whenever possible, try to take a group outside for a photoshoot. Be mindful of the position of the sun and artificial lights. Look for the location that works best for you and your vision.

It’s worth noting that shadows aren’t always a bad thing. Sometimes a shadow cast in a peculiar way can add a bit of mystery to a photo. It’s all about capturing the best photos that everyone will enjoy looking at.

Tip #5: Action Shots

Even better than a posed shot is an action shot. It’s in the name. Action!

Forget taking a photo of someone standing and smiling into the camera. Try capturing the moment when a bridesmaid lunges for a wedding bouquet or when the birthday boy bursts the piñata into a cloud of candy.

An action shot is often candid, which makes it interesting because a viewer can feel like they are taking part in the event just by looking at the photo. Another benefit of a candid photo is that your friends and family will look more natural and comfortable. When they don’t know they’re being photographed, they don’t have to worry about their posture or faking a smile.

You don’t have to worry about being an unnoticeable ghost, though. You’re part of the event after all. Engaging with people as you take action shots can also contribute to more natural-feeling photos.

Tip #6: Set Up a Photobooth

A photobooth can bring out the unique personalities of your guests and loosen them up for the entirety of your event. Best of all, photobooths are appropriate for just about any occasion.

Are you throwing a graduation party? Consider making the photobooth a miniature classroom. Maybe you’re having a wedding? Garlands of flowers in the photobooth’s background will let everyone know that love is in the air. What about celebrating Halloween? Set up some jack-o’-lanterns or skeletons to loom over your guests and create a spooky atmosphere.

To make the photobooth experience even better, consider having props on hand. They should fit the theme of your party, such as funny birthday hats or glittery New Year’s glasses. You can spice things up with utterly random props as well. To bring unexpected laughs, why not throw in props like googly eyes or fake cartoon lips? The more surprising, the more fun everyone will have. Before you know it, you’ll have tons of goofy and cheerful photos to look back on.

Tip #7: Digital = Nearly Infinite Photos

With digital photos, camera film is a thing of the past. Gone are the days when a person needed to choose their snapshots wisely.

In today’s world, you’re only limited by how much free memory is on your phone. Before the event, make sure you have enough memory space to take a ton of pictures. Consider deleting apps you hardly ever use. Another way to free up space is to transfer whatever photos are already on your phone to your computer. It’s safer to keep them there anyway.

Remember: digital means you can take nearly infinite photos. So don’t be afraid to take dozens of photos of the event, if not hundreds or more. You’ll also want to take multiple photos of the same moment. That way you’ll have lots of photos to pick and choose from. It’s how the pros get those amazing snapshots of an eagle grabbing a fish or a man stagediving at a concert while catching a beer midair.

The question of battery life is another potential snag that could prevent you from taking as many photos as you need. To prepare, fully charge your phone before the event. Photography uses up a lot of the phone’s battery, so it doesn’t hurt to bring a portable phone charger with you, either.

Tip #8: Level Up Your Phone

A decent professional camera can cost thousands of dollars. How can you get higher quality photos at little to no cost? There’s an app for that, of course.

Camera+ 2 is a cheap app for iOS that comes with all kinds of neat features to enhance your photography. Like a professional camera, you can easily adjust your shutter speed, focus manually, use different shooting modes, and more. If you’re looking for something at no cost, MuseCam is a free app with similar features.

For Android users, try Open Camera, which is also free.

Want to get a little bit fancier? An attachable mobile phone lens is another way to step up your photography game. More costly than an app, but cheaper than a professional camera, an attachable lens is a good middle ground between the two

Depending on the attachment, you can zoom in while maintaining a high quality image or use a fish lens to take some truly wild shots.

Tip #9: Let a Guest Give it a Go

When it comes to life and art, every person has their own perspective on things. With this in mind, why not let one of your guests try documenting the event?

They could end up capturing moments you might have overlooked. Additionally, they could offer their own perception of moments similar to those you’ve already captured on camera.

There’s a good chance you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the photos your guest ends up taking for you. Another benefit is that while your guest is snapping away, you can fully enjoy the event and be in some of the pictures yourself.

Tip #10: A Little Editing…

Not every photo is going to come out perfect right off the bat. It might even be that, once you’re home and looking over your photos, you find that all the ones of a particular moment are flawed in some way. Not to worry!

A little editing can go a long way in making the right photos absolutely perfect.

You can find many free and paid photo editors online or as apps to download. Play with the contrast to bring out colors or use a filter to change the atmosphere. The possibilities are endless.

When it comes to editing, though, the best bet is to not get too crazy with editing. Unless you do indeed want to turn your photo into a Picasso painting. In that case, go for it!

ipad coffee smartphone and jade plant on table