Introduction to night club photography
Welcome to the club
This article aims to introduce readers to the profession of night club photography. Night club photography can become a very profitable source of income if you are able to capture the style of images the club promoter/owner is after. This article will introduce the concept of night club photography, which is basically event photography and point out what you will need to take on a night club photography gig and a few tips to help new photographers when taking on your first gig.
So lets talk about the pros and cons of night club photography:
- Get paid to party – most good night club photographers get involved with the scene and mingle with party goers. It is important not to sit in the corner and expect to take great shots – get amongst the crowd!
- Good hourly rate – a good night club photographer can expect to earn in excess of $50 per hour. Most jobs will last for 2-4 hours so it is great pay for a short nights work. Basically the longer your at one club the better. Experienced night club photographers will attempt to line up multiple jobs for the one night providing the clubs are located close to each other.
- You don’t need to be a pro – Night clubs are always on the look out for fresh talent and a new photographer. Be prepare to take on your first job for free to get your foot in the door, remember this is a extremely competitive industry and you can expect everyone that likes to take photos and party will be jumping at the chance to get paid to do both.
- If you’re an amateur or photography enthusiast then you probably have the majority of the required gear already!
- Late nights – if your not a fan of working late nights, then night club photography might prove to be a challenge. Most gigs wont start until 11pm or 12am as that’s the peak time for most night clubs. Be prepared for a late night and stock up on your energy drinks.
- Risking your camera gear – it can be a risk job as you are rubbing shoulders with party goers who are out to have a good time, except you’re the one carrying your prized camera.
I’m sure there is more pros and cons to night club photography, however if you have read the above and are still interested in getting involved making money from this form of photography then lets move on to the gear you will need to succeed. If after reading the above you feel like another area of photography is better suited to you then check out another of my articles - make money with photography
Gear that you will need
The gear you need to make money with Club Photography
The gear that you will need for night club photography is relatively limited and if you are already a camera enthusiast or amateur photographer than chances are you already have the gear. The list below should give you an indication of what you will need:
- DSLR – Your camera can be an introductory level DSLR or a high end model. The most important thing is that you are comfortable with your camera and able to operate it with limited light. I have personally taken on club photography jobs using my secondary DSLR which is the Nikon D60 combined with a Nikon SB-600 speed light. You can see my Nikon D60 review here.
- Speed light – Without a speed light you just can’t take good club photographs. A speed light will let you capture great photographs while also preserving the club atmosphere. A unit I have personally used is the Nikon SB-600 which performed great for a 2 hour gig.
- Wide angle lens – This is an important piece of equipment. Heading into a night club photography gig with a 70-300mm zoom lens will only give you a headache. 24-70mm is perfect and if you are on a budget and use have a Canon DSLR then the Canon 50mm f1.8 lens is a great lens for a seriously low price.
- Batteries – Take lots of them. There is nothing worse than having to leave a job early because your speed light has used up your batteries. I usually take enough batteries for 3 refills.
- Camera bag – A camera bag should also be on your must have list for night club photography. You can usually tuck this behind the dj booth if you feel comfortable or if its not a big/bulky bag just keep it on.
Now that you have a good idea of the gear you will need lets move on to some tips for night club photography that will hopefully help you for your first gig.
Tips of the trade
Hot tips for better club photography
Each photographer develops their own style to night club photography and depending on the gear you are using, the settings on your camera/ speed light your photographs will look very different. Here is some quick tips that will hopefully help you on your first night club photography job-
- Talk with the promoter/ club owner: first things first, get to know your new boss. While you may only be working for them for a few hours its important to find out exactly what type of photos they are after. One job I was working recently I was capturing images with a particularly slow shutter speed to capture a lot of the club ambient light, however after speaking with the club owner they instructed that they wanted bright, glamour style shots of their patrons. It is this communications that is extremely important if you are after continual work with that club.
- Take lots of photos – I can’t stress this enough, take as many photographs as you can. Provide all the shots on a disk and give it to the promoter/ owner as soon as you can. Providing them with an abundance of good photographs will make their job easy as they select the shots for their website. As a rule of thumb you should at least be trying to capture 1-2 images per minute. When you consider you may snap 15 shots in a minute and then take a break as you walk around this tends to balance out nicely.
- Be friendly and professional – Don’t hit on every lady that poses for a photo. While as a night club photographer you will get a lot of attention it is important to remember that you are actually getting paid to work. Don’t let your new boss catch you standing around talking and not actually taking any photos.
- Show people your photos as you take them – if you approach a group for a photo, show it to them afterwards. Chances are that someone in the group will want another one taken and this is a great way to increase the number of photos you take.
Good luck and happy shooting!
If you are already into the night club scene and are a photography enthusiast then the transition into night club photography should be pretty smooth. Take on board the tips including in this article and you should be well on your way to become a sought after photographer for all the hottest clubs.