shooting a Stadium event, help


TPF Noob!
May 18, 2017
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long Island N.Y
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so recently I got hired as a photographer for my school. shooting events, speakers, clubs...

tonight I am shooting an event in the basketball stadium that consists of speakers, stage acts, and videos. I have no information other than the name of the event location and time so I have no idea what to expect. All I have been told in regards to what they want is reaction and crowd shots. I have never shot in a large stadium that may or may not be dark. I've shot in this stadium before but with all the lights on during graduation. I am not sure how to approach the lighting side of things.

My thoughts are a fast lens will not be able to capture enough depth, I have no idea if I can use flash or if it would even help since stadium is big

again I don't even know If the lights will be on or not but I like to mentally prepare for all situations

Any tips would be amazing
take a flash then. Prepare for the worse case scenario.

And try to talk to people organizing the event and get a better idea. THEY WOULD know more than us.
Dont forget to charge your batteries and back upbthe cards. Dont ask about the flash just do it set a precedent. Someone will tell you to stop if you cant. Bring ALL your gear.
Try to find out if there's a program or schedule for the event. Maybe whatever dept. at the school is sponsoring the event could tell you, or maybe they'll be handing out or selling programs. They might be able to email you a copy ahead or if not, get one when you arrive.

Go early, before the doors open if possible; the lights will probably be up while people are arriving. If nothing else ask around (ushers, ticket takers, building staff, etc.) and ask if they know the set up and/or the schedule for the night.

Figure out some good vantage points.Try to find places to stand where you can get good shots of the front of the performance area or podium; try to be where you won't be blocking the audience view (if you have to stand for a minute knowing you might be somewhat blocking someone's view get a couple of shots quick then move out of the way).

In a large venue a flash may not be of use because the light won't be hitting the subjects. I've done sports and events, no flash. Figure out where it looks like lighting might be better (from what vantage points), avoid dark corners in most arenas.

If you get a program ahead of time you'd know what's coming up next to know where to be when. If not I'd probably get photos of the speaker/performer, then when it seems like they're finishing up maybe get ready to turn and get a shot or two (or a few) of the crowd applauding.

I did marketing photos for a local team, and there was no way to know when they might score (during a penalty it could be more likely so I'd be ready in case) - but I still could often turn and get some crowd reaction shots. Think about that figuring out vantage points, will you be able to turn and get a few crowd shots from there? Make sure you can get an area with butts in seats (sponsors apparently don't want to see empty seats).
The first question that comes to mind is, "WHY is that all the information you have?" A BIG part of the job of an event photographer is to make sure that the client gives you the information you need. They're not photographers; it likely doesn't occur to them that you need a lot more information. A speedlight probably isn't going to be very useful, but if you can pre-rig three or four monolights around, that will let you get the crowd shots you need.

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