[Advise] Ball Room Event Shooting


New Member
Mar 17, 2009
Hi all,

I got an event in a ball room coming up at Grand Hyatt, about 35 tables. It is NOT a wedding but something like an organization event.

So there will be mass game, speech, prize presentation, table shots, etc.

I took weddings before but not in any official capacity. Just use fast primes like those f/1.4 without flash and shoot from far so as to not interfere with the actual day photographers. But now in this event, I will be the main and only official photographer. So I am a bit clueless. Not because of lack of confidence. Just try to minimize mistakes that I can avoid making by learning from you all.

I have a D300.

10.5 2.8 FE
11-16 2.8
17-55 2.8
18-200 3.5-5.6
30 1.4
50 1.4
85 1.4
70-200 2.8 VR2


Gary Fong Lightsphere II Clear
Gary Fong Lightsphere II Cloud
Sto-Fen Omni-Bounce like (default SB-900 cap)
Bounce card (default SB-900 bounce)
SoftLite Diffuser from Passion Photographers (made from someone in PSS)

I most likely will not rent a second body so will make do with one body.
For lens, I think I have a good range to choose from. Am thinking of 2 or 3 the most to bring along.

My sharpest lens are the 85 followed by the 70-200. So initially I thought of bringing the 30, 85 and 70-200 and shoot mainly without flash. But will bring SB900 as backup. Then I remembered that most ballroom will need flash.

So most likely I might changed to 17-55 and 70-200 only. I do like the 85 a lot for the bokeh but from other experiences, I may not have time to change lens so fast or sometimes I am just lazy to do that. 85 also means I may have to go up close for the speech. And for wide angle shots, it's almost impossible.

I am very new to flash and flash diffusers. I find all the flash diffusers are almost the same. The difference are too subtle to tell most of the time and they perform differently in different conditions. So I end up using the default SB-900 cap because it's the lightest and easiest to carry.

Can anyone advise me:
- What I need to look out for.
- What lens combination you suggest.
- What diffuser you suggest.
- Do I shoot in TTL or manual flash?

Not a paid thingy but doesn't mean I can live with sloppy work. Thanks.


New Member
Jan 28, 2008
in a ballroom event like a annual dinner.

usually theres nothing much to shoot.
starting part ppl come in sign in
hang around cocktail area
MC talking
entertainment showing
people watching
and people eating
(chinese style function people dont like to socialize one, all sit down concentrate on EATING EATING EATING, so not much to shoot)

expressions lor. catch expression when they are watching the entertainment or when they talking. no ppl like their photos taken when they are eating, damn unglam.

i suggest bring your D300 + 17-55 + sb900 with omni bounce. cant go wrong with that.
a 30 for group shots.
then if can a 2nd cam with 85. you wont have time to change lens for expression shots.

(of you're not confident in using flash, i would suggest dont use. otherwise there is a possibility that every flashed shot turn out too yellowish)

Last edited:


Staff member
Oct 25, 2005
lil red dot
I would suggest a 17-55 with SB900 bounced. Depends a lot on the height of the ceiling of the ballroom as well. If ceiling is high, try a big bounce card like better bounce card, or demb. Stofen omnibounce can also work, but I am not really crazy about it, since it is so small, it would really only work if there are many walls and ceilings for the light to bounce around from.


New Member
Feb 23, 2009
If I were u I will seriously consider getting a second body and fix the 85mm to it. Cos sometime no time to swap lens. Else the next option is a belt w lens in quick change pouches.

Really depends on ur comfort level w ur lenses u can couple a 30 and 70-200. Or 17-50 w 85mm.

Just me babbling


Senior Member
Mar 13, 2008
rainy Singapore
TS, if you're the main and only photographer, then I would imagine you can get the best positions to shoot from, thus minimizing the need for a telephoto lens.
I reckon your 17-55 and SB900 would get the most mileage :)

If you really want to do this job well, a quick recce trip beforehand will help a lot... Look out for the height of the ceiling, etc

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