We’re in the middle of festival season and with the sun set to shine this weekend, there’s simply no reason to stay home. Whether it’s to practice your photographic skills or just because you love taking pictures, here are some festival photography tips to capture all that magic!

1. Do your research

Before the festival, go online and read about the festival’s line-up, what the weather will be like, and while you’re at it, view some great festival photography for inspiration! It doesn’t hurt, and you just might pick up some new ideas!

2. Get there early

Being early means you’ll familiarise yourself with the surroundings and ease into the festival environment. This is a great moment to capture the build up to all the excitement. Take pictures of people laughing, getting ready, and setting up stages.

3. Check your camera’s setting

More often than not many of us overlook adjusting the camera’s settings to take different pictures, especially when things start to get exciting! But adjusting settings to fit a particular situation can make a big difference, like adjusting your camera’s shutter speed to capture movement.

During the day, set your camera on the S mode (showing as ‘S’ on Nikon camera mode dials and ‘Tv’ on Canon cameras). This adjusts the shutter speed to help you freeze motion or induce a trail in movement. In the evening, go for the M mode to take cool pictures using the light around you. The M mode is difficult, so only use it if you can handle your camera well.

Remember to go easy on the flash. Avoid using it if you’re taking a picture of something in the distance whilst in a crowd as this overexposes the people around you while decreasing your subject’s visibility.

4. Get the best shots

Your subjects – Festivals bring out the creative side in us all so take photos of spectators as well as performers. Stay alert and take pictures of things that catch your eye: expressive masks, t-shirts with bold statements printed on them, dressed up pets, surprising objects…. there’s a lot to capture. Take photos of heightened emotion and when things are calmer. Zoom out and take macro shots of crowds and zoom in to capture details. Then bring it all together in a photo book!

Your position – Bear in mind that the scene before you changes rapidly so there’s no reason to spend the whole event moving (unless you want to)! By keeping still you’ll be able to anticipate and take pictures of the action unfolding before you. If you wish to move around then don’t let all that action prevent you from varying your position. Changing your vantage point can help you take more interesting photos (e.g. getting a little higher than the crowd or shooting from low angles).

5. Don’t be afraid

Yes, approaching strangers to take a photo can be quite daunting. But remember, at the height of the festival, people usually feel uninhibited and won’t mind having their picture taken. Remember, the photos you take are a reflection of the photographer, so relax, smile, and take a picture. The results will keep you smiling long after the festival is over.