Thread Rating:
  • 0 Vote(s) - 0 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Nightclub Photography
Hi guys,
I am doing a nightclub photography job which is a little bit different to what i would normally do. What camera settings would you work from?
Adam, are you shooting a band or something else going on in the club?
Just Crowd shots. For nightclub promotion.
That sounds like a fun and interesting assignment. Here's some general thoughts...

First, talk to the person who's hiring you. S/He may have some ideas in mind of what sort of look will work best. When you're doing commercial photography, it's all about showing the subject in the right way. You need to capture not just the crowd, but the crowd enjoying the venue in the way the venue wants to promote. Are they a hot dance club? Are they proud of their bar and forty different flavours of vodka? Do they have a great staff? Essentially, what makes this nightclub better than the one down the street? All of this should be talked over before you start.

Second, consider the crowd and how you'll be able to work with it to get the shots you want. Can you mingle and get in with the action, or do you need to stay removed and shoot from a different perspective? If you're photographing recognizable people, or featuring one person even if s/he can't be easily identified, get a model release. It will protect both you and the club.

Finally, get a contract that spells out what you will provide and what your rights and responsibilities are. Important things to note will be the approximate number of images ("10 or more") and how they'll be delivered (CD, e-mail) and at what quality/resolution. Also include that "the photographer retains all copyright and that the images are licensed for non-exclusive use in the State of X for a period of X months/years." If you don't specify that, then you may lose the ability to use the photos in your own portfolio or for other sales in the future.

And finally, finally, remember that the images you're providing have commercial value. The nightclub will use them to generate revenue for themselves. You deserve to be properly paid for them, and 'properly' depends on the scope of their usage. If they tell you that they're just putting up some small flyers at the local university, write it into the contract. Then, if they want to expand their use of the photos -- getting more commercial value from them -- you're still in a position to earn a fair income from it.

I realize that none of this answers the question you've asked, but there's such a broad range of possibilities, almost anything could work. It depends on how you and your client want it to look. If you have some ideas, I'd love to hear them, and I'm sure others will have some great suggestions. • @matthewpiers | | @thewsreviews •
I would use a flash on a bracket--kills red-eye and gets the flash off-axis, which is much more pleasing than the flat lighting of a popup flash or one on the hotshoe. If you don't have a bracket, attach the flash using a cord and hold it in your left hand, above and to the side.
Settings would be low iso, and shoot in manual mode with flash white balance.
Using flash, the aperture controls the subject-lit-with-flash exposure while the shutter controls the ambient light in the background (once your aperture is decided). As you lengthen the shutter speed the background will start to come up but don't overdo this, as you'll end up with motion-blur.
A good guess would be F5.6 and 1/60 to start.

If you use any other mode, the camera will meter the exposure without taking flash into account, so you'll have problems unless the flash is TTL.
Hi Adam,

If you're doing promo shots for the nightclub in question, then I assume you're more interested in capturing the atmosphere of the place rather than the identity of the patrons. If this is the case then I would actually recommend against using a flash at all, or at least limit it to a very weak bounced or diffused flash.
Flash will certainly make it easier to photograph people, but it can totally kill the ambience created by the lighting inside the club.

Instead, you'll need a fast wide lens, a camera that performs well at high ISO, a steady hand (and/or image stabilisation and/or a monopod), and hopefully a crowd of people who aren't moving around too vigorously. And take LOTS of shots, there will be plenty of duds. Shoot in RAW too so that you can easily adjust the white balance on the PC later.
Also get used to shooting in manual mode and possibly manual focus too. The camera will most likely struggle to give consistant exposures as it gets confused by a dark room with moving bright lights. It's often best to find a aperture/shutter speed/iso combo that works and then use those settings in manual mode. Similarly the camera can struggle to lock focus in low light, and if you're focusing through a moving dance floor then you may be better off focussing manually.

Here's a shot I took last night of some swing dancing at The Mustang Bar here in Perth. I used a Sigma 28mm f/1.8 lens (using manual focus). I also had the 30D in manual mode, shooting at 1600 ISO, f/2.2 and 1/100th sec.
[Image: Web_IMG_0397.jpg]

Here's another shot I took using a slower lens (Sigma 10-20mm f/4.5-5.6 @ 20mm). It's still 1600 ISO, but this time f/5.6 and 1/13th sec. You can see how much motion blur occurs due to the slower shutter speed in this shot. This can be a good or bad thing depending on the circumstances and what you're trying to achieve, but either way it is something to be aware of.
[Image: Web_IMG_0306.jpg]

This final overview shot of the crowd illustrates another reason why its good not to use flash in a situation like this. If I had used a flash for this shot it would illuminate the people in the foreground and the camera would expose for those people, making everything in the background become darker as the light from the flash falls off. If you want even lighting over a large room then you need to use the ambient light instead of a flash.
This shot was with an Arsat 35mm f/2.8 tilt/shift lens, 1600 ISO, f/2.8, 1/25th sec. Note that even though this used a fairly slow shutter speed, the motion blur isn't as obvious because the people in focus are a fair distance from the camera making their gestures appear smaller in the image.
[Image: Web_IMG_0340.jpg]

I hope that helps a bit. Its not an easy environment to shoot in. I suggest you visit one night to do a test run first to suss out your settings, as the lighting in your club will definately be different to the Mustang Bar.
Good luck!
Adrian Broughton
My Website:
My Blog:
You can also visit me on Facebook!
"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler." - Einstein.
I do lots of nightclub photography. For close up portraits of people in the club, I recommend using a flash in 2nd Curtain Sync Mode in combination with a long shutter speed (like .5 to 1 sec).

[Image: 2751180939_27995777eb.jpg]

2nd curtain sync (sometimes called Rear Sync) means the flash will fire at the end of the shot, not the beginning. This allows you to capture the ambient lighting effects in the nightclub while still freezing your subject at the end without motion blur. I use a low ISO setting of 200 or 400 to reduce noise. There are some different settings I use for performers and large crowd shots, check out my nightclub photography blog for examples. Wink
Great point about rear-curtain flash.
Welcome to ShutterTalk.
I'll throw my *thumbs up* in for the rear curtain sync flash. Whenever dealing with slower shutter speeds and action shots a rear curtain sync is crucial for far better results and its much better for in nightclubs as someone said above.

When dealing with nightclub photography a lot of shooters these days are now twisting the lenses and the cameras and doing all sorts of funky things with their slow shutter speeds to get arty results. First curtain syn is usually a lot easier for these types fo shots, but have a play and see for yourself!

I would normally give out a few slap on the wrists for some of those high ISO values Im seeing, but I mean most nightclubs want their crowd shots for websites and facebook and facebook doesnt care about noise and high ISO. By that, I mean nobody on facebook cares.

Ive been shooting nightclubs (in Perth also) for a number of years now, my winning combination for nightclub crowd shots sits in the range of around 1/4 - 1/25th @ F2.8 - 5.6 and using an ISO of no more than 400. Sometimes I might go to 800 if i really need it for some weird reason. Depends on the lens. When using slower shutter speeds I will always fire the flash straight onto the subject as bounces wont work so well. (it will blur). Also sometimes with and without light modifiers.
using flash in a night club is a good thing. But some times not using it is also. All depends on what your taking a picture of. [Image: DSC_0104%20copy.jpg]
Great photo in context - and not at all spammy for a first post. Let's see more.
Hey guys

I do a lot of indoor low light photography and video. I usually try to take a variety of picture styles.

When I use a flash, I use rear curtain sync.

In general, when the subjects come out too bright, I drop the flash exposure compensation and increase the iso. When the background is too dark, I up the iso and drop the flash exposure compensation.

Here's a few example images and a small talk about picking equipment and the gear I used for these shots

For the first picture, I used F/4 to catch the group in focus, and iso 800, 1/2s, with rear curtain sync.
For the second picture, I used F/2.8 (because the two girls were on the same plane) and iso 1600, 1/13s with rear curtain sync.

Sometimes I take photos without flash for some artistic shots
This one was taken with f/1.4, iso 6400, 1/100s

Anyways, there are alot of different styles and techniques for night club photography!
A site about photographic arts and techniques
Great links and information - welcome to Shuttertalk! • @matthewpiers | | @thewsreviews •
I am new in photography and going to shoot a nightclub tonight and can't decide which camera/lens i have to use, please give me some suggestions?
Cameras/Lens Combos are:
Canon 5D/24L
Canon 7D/10-22
I use a Canon 7D, and I can tell you that having a wide angle is very useful. I use mostly primes, but my wide angle of choice is the 8mm Samyang. A 10-22mm will give you the images you need. I am going to guess most of the time you'll be sticking to the 10mm and taking pictures from there, because then you won't have to worry about focus. The short focal distance gives you a wide depth of field, and you can bypass the focus searching issue that occurs in low light (most of the scene will be in focus as long as you put the focus at around 3 ft!)

Most importantly, a FLASH will help you! If you don't have an external one, the 7D will have one built in!

I know this is a couple days late for you but I hope it helps for the future. If you want to know more, visit my website, I talk about nightclub photography there.

A site about photographic arts and techniques
Fast primes and a high iso are the way to go in clubs, then switch your mode dial around and bring your brand-specific flash into play.
Keith Alan Wrote:Fast primes and a high iso are the way to go in clubs, then switch your mode dial around and bring your brand-specific flash into play.
I couldn't disagree more. It all depends on the atmosphere -

chill night: Flash and fast shutter, or high ISO and fast lens -

Real party - stop it down and use 2nd curtain sync to catch the action but freeze the subject. These are largely shot at 1/4 sec:

Possibly Related Threads…
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  So, why do you pursue photography? Freeman 16 4,179 Mar 26, 2020, 05:42
Last Post: Barbara G.
  Drone Photography Eddy Canon 3 379 Mar 5, 2020, 06:32
Last Post: Buffaloe
  Street Photography Freeman 115 41,537 Jul 30, 2019, 00:03
Last Post: jogesh12345

Forum Jump:

Users browsing this thread:
1 Guest(s)

Nightclub Photography00