Professional wedding photographer Kevin Mullins has a couple of tips for shooting candid photos of parties:
Get In close… it is a party after all!
You don’t need to stand in the corner of a room with a 200mm lens to be unobtrusive. Get a short lens, get in close, mingle and be part of the environment you are shooting. You will get more natural and creative images without the subjects feeling.
Bide your time
The scene in front of you is the stage, and the characters are the actors. Let them act out the play naturally, wait, bide your time and the images will come. Don’t contrive or force the pictures.
“Auto” is your friend
Set your camera up so all you have to do is concentrate on the moment. I shoot parties in Aperture Priority Mode and with Auto-ISO set to 6,400 and a minimum shutter speed of 1/125 (you X-Pro1 users can’t complain about not having that after the firmware update on the 19th December!).
Pick a spot to manually focus on and wait for the action to come to you
Use Manual Focus if necessary when in a dark environment – focus on a spot on the floor or something with enough contrast and wait for the action to happen.
Bring your own light
Use an external flash (I use the EF-X20) as the slave, hand hold it above your head and move around with freedom. You can direct the light so easily using this flash so when the light at the party does get too low it won’t stop you shooting away. The key thing is be in the mix, especially on the dance floor. Everyone will face in, and you need be on the dance floor getting those shots. You will find it difficult with a long zoom so stick with a 14, 18 or 23mm lens for optimum shooting. And Happy Christmas!