How do you post ace photos on your social media channels instantly as events are happening?

Speaking as one of the people in our communications team who gets sent out to take photos, this was a problem that I needed a solution to. There were typically two options for taking photos:

Option 1: your phone

You take a photo on your phone. Depending on your skills, your phone and the lighting, this could either be brilliant or one not worth looking at, but at least you posted something to Facebook and Twitter instantly.

Option 2: your DSLR

Feeling like an award-winning photojournalist, you swan down to the photo opp, take dozens of photos on your DSLR then head back to the office where you download, select, edit, enhance and export a handful of photos. The photos are better than your phone, but there is a considerable delay in posting them to social networks.

But wait, there is a better way…

Option 3: Shoot, tweet, live!

If you’re thinking there must be a better way, well there is a hybrid option using your DSLR and smartphone. With this option, you can let your community know what’s happening right now by shooting and posting high quality images live to Twitter and other social networks. Here’s how.

What you need to shoot, tweet, live!

A photographer

Photography is one of the most popular hobbies in the world so finding someone in your team that loves photography should be easy. Give your photographer a good brief including what you expect of them and key shots needed. If they’re not that experienced, go easy on them and don’t pile on too much pressure!

A camera

For photographing events,  you will probably need a DSLR.

Are iPhones any good? Yes, yes they are. I’ve even written a blog about why your smartphone is the best camera.

For this kind of job though you need a camera that:

  • You can set the shutter speed or aperture yourself to suit the situation
  • Has a zoom lens so you can get a variety of images (detail, wide angle etc)
  • Can shoot in low light without a flash: look at the Auto ISO settings on  your camera as well as the minimum shutter speed
  • Has a flash if needed

We use Nikon DSLRs in our team, but any brand is okay.

Wifi connectivity

You need a way to quickly get your photos from your camera to your smartphone. Many cameras these days have wifi built-in.

The D7100 we shoot with doesn’t have wifi as standard, so we bought an Eye-Fi SD memory card which has an in-built wireless network. You pop the Eye-Fi SD card into your camera like any other SD card, but once you open the Eye-Fi app on your smartphone, images transfer across to your phone, just like magic!

A smartphone

We use iPhones, but Eye-Fi also has an Android app. Just make sure you have enough space on your phone for all the photos!

Someone to tweet / post the images

Make sure your photographer is all set up to post to social networks during the shoot, if they’re not,  you can set your phone up to receive the photos and once the files have transferred from your card, you can post to social media while they continue to shoot.

Now you’re all set up with the right kit, here are some tips for photographing the event.

Tips for photographing events

Get there early

Look for good vantage points, get photos of the participants before the event starts.

Grab the run sheet

If there’s a run sheet for the event, get a hold of it and know what is happening when. That will help with key images you need to take.

Tweet the program of events

If it’s an all day event, get there before the start and tweet your followers some photos and a link to the day’s activities.

Access all areas

As the photographer, you can get away with doing lots of stuff you usually couldn’t or wouldn’t. Be safe and be respectful, but don’t hesitate to go where you need to shoot great photos. Also don’t hesitate to ask people to pose for photos, remember your photo permission forms!

File sizes

I set the file quality to JPEG fine, if you really need RAW files too, you can always set your camera to write RAW files to a second memory card separate to the JPEG files.  Remember, the bigger the files you shoot, the longer they will take to transfer to your smartphone and the more space they will take up.

Take a variety of shots

Take a variety of shots from a variety of angles – get high, get low, zoom in, zoom out.  Concentrate on quality, not quantity: you’ll thank me for this during the next step.

Delete unwanted photos / transfer to smartphone

It’s best to have a quick look through the images on your DSLR before you transfer them to your smartphone. Delete any howlers or photos you won’t use. Each photo transfers from the Eye-Fi card to your phone in as little as 1 to 2 seconds, but if you’ve taken hundreds and hundreds of images, it’s going to take a while.

Tweet and post to social networks

Once your transfer has finished, start picking out photos to post to social networks.

Make sure you use Twitter’s new four photos in a tweet functionality, they look fantastic! If posting to Facebook, post a select number of photos in one update, don’t keep posting individual photos unless they are significant in some way.

Let others know you’re tweeting

If space permits, cc in other government agencies or related organisations on your tweets.

What other tips do you have for shooting images at events? Let us know!

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