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Bouncing the Flash and Taking Pictures in a Crowded Room

Q: I just saw your tips on nightclub photography. I'm a photographer and I'm just recently getting into club photography. I bought a flashgun yesterday.

Just wanted to ask what you think. I was told to put my flashgun mode on TTL and when im taking landscape shots of big groups to bounce the flash at 90 degrees to the ceiling, when taking portrait shots swivel flash and put flash at 40 degrees so it's not dark.

I'm new to flashguns. HELP!

How to get posed pics of people when the room is really really crowded. I have a plan of getting to the event and going to everyone asking if they want a picture, but when it gets really really crowded, I find that I struggle because I dont know where to go or how to get more pictures of people so just go back to people I've already taken.

Any advice?

A: I think it's great that you have an external flash to use with your camera. The external flash unit is essential in getting really good nightclub and nightlife pictures.

Bouncing the flash from the ceiling at 90 degrees when taking pictures in landscape orientation is a good start, but don't limit yourself to that. What if the ceiling is a dark color or black? Bouncing the flash on the ceiling won't help much.

I often play around the angle and where I bounce the flash. Sometimes the angle is 45, 60, or 90 degrees. I bounce the flash on the walls, the ceiling in front, or the ceiling behind me. That's why I've recommended using a flash that can tilt and swivel. You have more choices on how you can light your subject. Read more about my recommended flashes and accessories.

If you're going to bounce the flash from the ceiling at 90 degrees, you might want to try the index card and rubber band trick to throw more light forward to the subject. I also suggest using a Sto-Fen Omnibounce or the combination of the index card trick and the Sto-Fen Omnibounce.

Index Card and Rubber Band Trick

Nightclub Photographer

I've taken pictures at venues that can get really crowded. You can see just how crowded it is in the picture below.

Nightclub Photographer

It's always a challenge getting good pictures when it's this crowded because there's not much room for you to move. I hope that you're using a lens that's wide enough (at least 18mm on a 1.6 crop body). Read more about my recommended lens.

Basically, you'd have to work your way into the crowd and shoot at the wide angle side a few feet away from the subject. The picture below was taken at 17mm and I was probably 3 feet or 1 meter away from the couple.

Nightclub Photographer