Quick Tip - Press line & Sundance - Why you need flash and power

Shooting events such as a film premiere, you will have to account for a lot of variables; Your Position, Lens Choice, TIming, etc etc. And Lighting.

If you are relying on the ambient light only you may be stuck with candle like wall accent lights, fluorescent tube panels or maybe nothing at all?

- My Solution & Tools Uses -

Using an on camera speedlight, power pack with plenty of energy for really short recycle times. I use the built-in diffuser from the speedlight and leave the white flag down. I toss the flash facing forward (direct flash I know…) and time my shots to the attention of the talent making their way through the line.

Taking multiple shots in order to get that keeper you definitely have a ratio of 1:5 or 1:10 in getting your shot in focus and not having the other flashes around you over exposing your shot.

For example: Let’s take my shooting actor Clara Rugaard from the Australian film ‘I AM Mother’ and her entrance and solo pictures at the premiere at the Eccles Theater. This particular set with the one final “keeper” I probably took 6 shots.

Shot 1: Under Exposed - Flash Didn’t Fire


Shot 2: Over Exposed my flash an other flashes fired at the same time.


Shot 3: Perfect exposure, expression caught


Shot 4: Caught the sync speed at a bad time, only partially lit.


And then again, shots 5, 6 had similar issues and were eventually discarded along with shots 1 and 2. Then you would get another “keeper” after that, and repeat and repeat.

That is why it is very important to plan, know what composition you can get etc. test your flash, have a person stand in before the talent gets there! … Grab the publicist grab another photographer, anyone. Then when the talent arrives, above all be polite, don’t yell, ask for attention, ask for a direction for them to put the attention, multiple shots. 1,2,3,4,5,6 “To your left please” …1,2,3,4,5 “One more time, thank you for coming out” 1,2,3,4,5. Etc Etc…

Tips: Don’t let the shutters just go off in silence, if you are not saying anything, if your fellow photographers are not saying anything, say something. Compliment a smile, say something about their outfit etc. No matter who it is, they’ve probably put thought into themselves, or hired a designer for some aspect of their ensemble.

That’s it

Pretty much everything else is not something you can copy, you can watch, learn etc. But if you talk verbatim how another photographer is talking that is weird, if you approach every subject the same way, that might not work. If you take a direct approach, if you are working with a group, if you are getting frustrated. That will come through and people will know, just like if you are having a conversation with an acquaintance, and they are upset, you can tell!

Let yourself have fun, get your shots but above all be nice, be fun, let your subjects gain that confidence for the 5 minutes you have them. Yes they are professionals, but maybe they are much more shy in person than you think.

“Final Shot” with light edits, sharpening and color adjustments in Lightroom

Clara Rugaard - At the premiere of ‘I Am Mother’ at Sundance Film Festival.

Clara Rugaard - At the premiere of ‘I Am Mother’ at Sundance Film Festival.

Did you learn anything? Have any tips of your own? Leave a comment and reach out on social media!

Did you make it out to the festival? - Please share your experience below!




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