Party PicsThe kind of party photos people respond to aren’t the static, fixed expression, highly posed grip-and-grins you see in your parents’ photo albums. You want the casual, spontaneous, voyeuristic look and feel -- Ryan McGinley’s work or Last Night’s Party pleasingly sleazy shots are perfect examples. A camera that is fast, low-key in appearance and has a great flash with lots of manual options is key. The Fuji E900 fulfills all the requirements while retaining Fuji's oh-so-flattering skin tones. The semi-vintage Fuji E900 isn’t in production anymore (but is readily available on Amazon for as the E series has been supplanted by another generation of cameras that have sadly discarded the digital viewfinder, one of the features that makes the E900 so good for party situations. (If you don’t want to by a used camera, the Canon PowerShot G9 ($500) is a perfect substitute.)
Three Ways to Shoot It Better, by Mark Tusk, professional party picture taker
• Don't blind people: “In Program Mode set your flash to -1/3 which is a little gentler, and your exposure to -1/3, which is a kinder to complexions. You don’t want to blow out people’s features, which commonly happens with flash in night conditions.”
• Use the spot flash: “Set the flash to spot (the flashing lightning bolt) which gives that trippy, trailing lights effect in the background, and keeps the subject in nice focus. Try using the flash with these settings at daytime parties, too -- it’ll make the colors pop a little”.
• Go into stealth mode: “Turn off the back screen and use the digital viewfinder, especially at night. You’ll call less attention to yourself, and you’ll lessen the chances that you’ll have to stop and pass the camera around after every shot, an annoying modern habit that ruins spontaneity.” Also: turn off the shutter beep or any other noises the camera makes.
Mark Tusk's work has appeared in The New York Observer, Radar, and the London Times Magazine.