From a non-event photographer. Disclaimer.

If you follow me on Twitter/know me in real life, you know that I attended the WCNC conference a few weekends ago and volunteered myself up to take some shots (aka: be an event photographer for a day).

I confess, I volunteered for 2 main reasons: because I’m shy and it’s easy for me to hide behind my camera in large social situations and because I wanted to see if I’m crap at photographing “live” situations (as I tend to shoot still life or landscapes).

Turns out, I met a lot of awesome people, camera or no camera, and I found that I actually enjoy shooting events (so hopefully that might lead to another extension of my photography).


In the days leading up to the event many thoughts crossed through my mind. Mainly: “What was I thinking volunteering to do this?! I don’t know anything about event photography! And I don’t have a lot of experience photographing people. I’ve basically set myself up for failure. There goes my “brand.” Whyyyyyyyyy.”

Funny thing, self doubt is. To better prepare myself though I watched a LOT of YouTube videos to try and get tips from pros. It basically came down to:

  • Figure out what len(ses) to use
  • Figure out the optimal settings for each lens
  • Make a list of photos to remember to take
  • Calm. Down. For the love of God.


I shot the entire event almost exclusively with the 50mm 1.8 with the exception of a few times I needed the zoom lens. Because I needed to be using a fast shutter speed to capture the random movements of people, I also bumped up my ISO even though the 50 is a super fast lens. The venue was really well lit by natural light (it’s a “green” campus so they use natural light as much as possible) so once I got my settings…I basically kept them.

The mental list of “photos to take” went something like this:

  • Participants (pax) at registration
  • Pax getting breakfast
  • Opening remarks
  • Pax listening/applauding
  • Pax asking questions/speakers response
  • Mingling on breaks/between sessions
  • Pax on devices, taking notes, etc.
  • Displays/signage
  • Lunch setup/pax eating lunch
  • Closing remarks
  • Misc group shots (speakers, sponsors, etc.)

This is one list where I didn’t get to cross every item off. Which kind of irks me since I like completing lists. But it was a great reference for me so I didn’t get stuck always shooting the same types of shots.


It was a lot easier to blend into the group than I thought. As I mentioned above, being super shy, the thought of getting up and being that jerk that stands in the aisle to get a photo (you know who I’m talking about…you see them at graduations and concerts) terrified me. Thank goodness with the casual setting my fears were quelled (and thanks to the zoom lens I didn’t have to get up in people’s business). After a while I think hope I just started to fall off people’s radar. Very rarely were people actually looking down my lens which means A) I’m a REALLY good creeper and can snap pictures in stealth mode…or B) people are genuinely uninterested and don’t care.


At the end of it, I was really happy with my decision to put myself out there. The gap between when I initially head about WCNC and when I committed (read: singed up and paid money to attend) was HUGE because fear was reminding me that I’d be doing this all alone. Couple that with my volunteerism and you have one scared Asian girl with a camera.

But the thing I’ve learned about fear is that you have to decide you want whatever is on the other side of your fear so much you’re willing to jump the chasm.

I wanted the chance to meet other web developers and people who have a special place in their heart for a single CMS. I wanted to learn more ways to make my website leaner and meaner. I wanted to test my photography skills.

And I wanted it bad. So I managed my fear.

If you’re a photographer, seek out new shooting situations. Even if you generally always shoot in one area, it’ll help you keep sharp. And if you’re like me and kind of just shoot whatever you want…stay flippant about it. Don’t get stuck on one thing unless you want to.

Happy shooting, xx