I'm an amateur photographer who mostly likes nature shoots, but because I have a camera, my friends often ask me to take pictures at events and things. I'm used to the bright sunlight from outdoors, but I recently went to an engagement party in a house that was extremely dark. I realized I should have brought an on-camera flash, perhaps even set up an off-camera flash in a different room and brought groups in, maybe a reflector, certainly a tripod because my hands weren't steady enough in the dark room.

But then I thought about how much gear I'd have to take with me just to take some indoor pictures, and the next location might be bright enough without the gear - so I'm trying to find a balance between taking everything and the kitchen sink to recreate a studio in someone's house, and having nothing but a camera and a bunch of blurry pictures.

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    You should also think about another question: If they are friends, are you then invited as a guest or hired as photographer. The amount of time and gear you want to bring in might differ significantly depending on the answer to that question. – Gerhardh Jul 28 '17 at 15:19
  • Very true, @Gerhardh - generally I think it's somewhat of a combination, though it varies. Sometimes they're bringing me instead of an event where a professional photographer would otherwise be hired, sometimes they're saying "hey, this is a happy occasion where everyone will have their phones out to take pictures, maybe you can bring your camera instead of your phone". But I definitely hear you. – Jake Jul 28 '17 at 15:25

I have done several shoots of concerts and events in dark settings. During concerts one is prohibited from using the flash. I find that taking a fast prime lens(or have 2 primes one for wider and one for portrait shots) and going with higher iso is the best solution. Its minimal gear.

The tripod would be rather cumbersome and not give you mobility for an event. If you can use a flash that you can direct toward the ceiling or walls do take it with you, it makes your job easier.

So to sum up: the camera, one or 2 prime lenses and a flash.

  • Definitely good advice - because I mostly do nature photography, I don't even have a prime lens - I prefer the versatility of a zoom lens. But I hadn't really thought about swapping lenses as a way to solve the problem, I'll have to think about that. Thanks! – Jake Jul 28 '17 at 15:27
  • I'd buy fast primes if someone occasionally offered to pay you, otherwise I'd make sure I had an f2.8 zoom or two; which would be more useful to you when you're not doing favours for friends. Cover the range in 2 lenses, 24 - 200 or 300, or look at the potentially ridiculous new Tamron 18-400, though probably not fast enough without a flash. Your friends want pictures that make them feel like they've been "papped" - they don't need poster-sized prints, just facebook. – Tetsujin Jul 28 '17 at 20:05
  • Me personally I am a big fan of primes) a 50mm 1.8 is cheap from all manufacturers and it is a good addition to the arsenal – dannemp Jul 29 '17 at 0:10
  • Me too - in fact last time I went to a 'dark event' I took just my 50mm 1.4 because I knew flash would be inappropriate. I'd have preferred a zoom for the flexibility, but I don't have any fast enough, yet. – Tetsujin Jul 29 '17 at 7:04

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