Welcome to the Underground: Part One

That’s right! Another bundle of after-hours photographs!


After the last party I went to, I decided that I want to do a series on these under the radar events. That and I want to figure out how event photography is done properly, so when my buddy flashed the address to a warehouse over to me I grabbed my Nikon and a speedlight that’s older than I am and jumped into the car. Not gonna lie. Walking into an illegal party in the industrial district of LA with a fat camera and shitty speed light is pretty nerve-wracking at first. There is something that feels incredibly invasive about popping speed lights in a dark room filled with throbbing techno basslines. Especially when you're cauterizing the corneas of strangers who's eyes are tuned to the borderline darkness setting from three feet away. The fact that I shoot manual and hadn’t perfected getting people into that focal sweet spot wasn’t playing to my advantage. Winging it was not the move and I found myself fumbling around with my phone trying cast enough light on the camera to see what the fuck I was doing. You’re blowing it! Get it together man! kept going through my head every time I looked down at another blurry photo in the rear LCD of my camera.

Despite my photographic inadequacies everyone was nothing but patient and gave me plenty of time to sort things out. Some even offered to teach me. This may come as a surprise, but I wasn’t the only person there who had held a camera before. In fact, anyone who had ever heard of a camera made sure to let me know. Some of them were professionals who had no problem providing me with an off the cuff masterclass in the subtle nuances of event photography. I mean one demonstration involved a heavily intoxicated woman waving my precious Nikon around in the air as she tried to find a light source to focus on, but she didn't smash it into a million pieces and I eventually regained the feeling in my left arm. Everyone else was a blast and, for their patience, I sent all of them photos the next day when I was through tinkering around in Lightroom.

I learned a very valuable lesson that night, which I’d like to pass on to any aspiring photographers reading this. People like having their photo taken. A lot. And they are willing to put up with a little bit of waiting if it means getting a great photograph to memorialize the night. So, if you are reading this and have any interest whatsoever in learning how to do event photography all I have to say is this: Go for it and don’t be shy! In fact, if you have a camera in your hand you probably aren’t going to be afforded the opportunity. The blonde girl who I only know as her Instagram handle, Ganelle, grabbed me to take photos of her as soon as she saw me and was after me all night to keep on snapping. Kindness does wonders for the nerves. Before you know it you’re gonna be flowing and everything will work out better than you expected. Just be respectful and try to do right by the people you choose to take photos of. There’s a lot of power that comes with a taking a picture and it’s up to you to decide how you want to make your subjects look. Good luck and happy hunting!

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