We just had our One World Christmas Party last December 8, and it was really a blast!
Every December, organizations hold their own Christmas party, and for more than 5 years already, I have been lucky to be part of the committee that has been handling preparations for the one annual event that all of us look forward to.
Filipino culture celebrates Christmas in very unique way—Christmas in the Philippines is arguably the longest, starting sometime in September and ending in January.
Common to these celebrations are food, party prizes, performers, and good fun. Our one Christmas party has all that, and we are very lucky everything is well provided, including a large performance area complete with lights and pristine audio systems for a concert-level performance.
I have been taking photographs of our Christmas parties over the years, and what I have found is that there definitely are various opportunities to take a good photo. One can document performers, or the joy on the faces of raffle prize winners, the palpable rush of excitement as the program unfolds—there are many ways a photographer can focus on in documenting an event as big as the one we have been lucky to be part of.
Of course, there are challenges.
Since Christmas parties usually happen in the evening, I have to take into account for low light. Small apertures—f/3.5 is already a handicap—are automatically out of the question. This is the main reason why prime lenses are the best option. (However, large apertures come with it the need for fine-grained control of focus. A single misplaced focus can ruin the entire photo.)
Using prime lenses do not offer the flexibility of a zoom. There were many instances before when I longed for a 200mm, but can only make do with 50mm. But just like any hurdle, this one can be readily remedied by going nearer than most. Talking to concert organizers and security before the event has started can really help you get a spot that would let you take better pictures.
Another challenge, although this is a personal one, is white balance. With stage lights of various colors rapidly shifting and illuminating performers and party goers, trying to get pleasing color cannot just be left to the camera, even if it offers a second Auto WB option. I usually remedy this by going to 5000K, give and take 500K, depending on how fast the stage lights change. Going RAW is an option, but I don’t want to, since I don’t have much time trying to nail the ‘perfect’ white balance.
It might sound difficult, but I’ve realized the challenges common in taking photographs at big events can be easily overcome by restraining that inevitable feeling and rush to take it all at once. Of course, even a cursory plan can help and provide a guide, but a balanced take between documenting the event and getting into the groove of the party can help one in getting more keepers.
At the end of the day, the stream of memorable images you get from an event you enjoyed and had the opportunity to document is a very pleasant combination.
All in all, the happy moments surely overcome these challenges—especially when you learn your name has been chosen by the randomizer as the winner of the raffle grand prize!