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Special Tip For Sharp Low Light Nightclub Photography

Updated: Apr 21, 2023

Are you sometimes bummed that your photos are less sharp when shooting in a low light place?

Well, in this video, I’ll share with you a special tip on how to shoot sharp photos in low light places, like nightclubs. And there is more, at the end I share an easy-to-do tip I always do to make my photos stand out to my clients.

Interested in more photography tips and tricks? Check out my video ‘7 Festival Photography Tips @ Verknipt festival 2021.


Nightclub photography tips

During the Amsterdam Dance Event I was asked to shoot the Cuckoo's Nest, an event by my friends Mr Belt & Wezol. I love shooting club parties, because of the music, the people and the energy. But photographing an event in a nightclub can be a challenge, because there is not much light. And photography in the basis, is all about capturing light. But I have a trick that helps me during the focusing proces a lot...

Low Light photography tip
Cuckoo's Nes - Amsterdam Dance Event - club night photography

The special tip: use the infrared beam!

In a low light place, it’s extra important to focus. I use my flash for this. Not to flash people in their face. No, I use it for the infrared beam. How to turn it on? Go to external speed control and disable your flashlight. This means: no flash, but yes infrared beam. This little red dot helps a lot with focussing, and therefore sharper pictures in low light situations!

Important side note for this photography tip: this special low light photography tip only works when you are using a DSLR camera.


My settings for sharp low light nightclub photography

Every situation is different, so there is no one size fits all setting I use. And the best piece of advice is to always think in terms of light. Where does the light come from, and how fast is my subject moving? The settings that I'm sharing here are based my flash not firing, but since I want to use the infrared beam when using my DSLR camera. Here is a quick introduction to my settings for sharp low light nightclub photography:

Step 1. I disable the external speed control in my camera as a first step to try and take sharp photos in these low light situations. This way my flash will only fire it's infrared beam.

Step 2. The second think to keep in mind is that I try to work with prime lenses. So I can use a wider aperture so more light will go through the lens

Step 3. I always try to match my shutter speed with the focal point that I'm shooting with. If I use my 85mm lens. I tent not to go lower that 1/80 in terms of shutter speed.

Step 4. If my subject is moving fast, I might go up in terms of shutter speed. And I would increase my ISO. Even though I always try to keep my ISO as low as possible

Step 5. And in terms of ISO, I always start around 1600, and try to to go above 6400. Depending on your camera model the ISO will effect the quality of your photos. ISO gives a light boost in your sensor. But in order to boost this light, more grain will appear in your photo. And the more grain the less sharp your image will appear. But grain will always be a beter option for me than motion blur.

I post more photos with settings on my instagram, feel free to give me a follow to stay inspired by my photography settings.


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How-to stand out

When you’re photographing for a client, the best way to make them happy is to get them exactly the pictures they asked for, right? Well, I always try to give a little extra by telling a story with my photos. For Mr. belt and Wezol I took photos of them performing, but also backstage interacting with each other and other artists. These photos they can use for social media. Or just as an amazing memory of this great night!

Thinking outside the lines of the event and taking some extra photos to tell a story, is an easy and very effective way to stand out to your client. They may not use it for the goal of the assignment, but they will definitely appreciate it and remember you for it.

Amsterdam Dance Event photography
Shooting for Mr belt & Wezol during the Amsterdam Dance Event

Wanna learn more Nightclub Photography tips? I got plenty for you!

Chapter 11: nightclub photography tips

Since shooting sharp photos in low light situations is a crucial factor in becoming a professional event photographer I've dedicated a special chapter where I give all my best tips and tricks. So you can learn how to get the most out of your nightclub photography in the future!

Event photography course - Low light
Screenshots from chapter 11 - Shooting low light party situations


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🙋‍♂️ About Michiel Ton

Hi, Michiel Ton is my name. Great to meet you!

I am an international festival and event photographer, with a lot of experience in corporate events and festivals. In addition to being a full-time photographer, I also graduated as a teacher of social studies. I have a passion for creating unforgettable memories through my photography!


Hi, what is your story? 👋

Are you interested in Festival and Event photography? Great - I would love to learn more about your story. You can find me on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube. Feel free to send me a DM message or leave a comment. Talk to you later!


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