The best solution for photographing nursery school and kindergarten recitals and graduation ceremonies

Hi there.
This is sato.

This time, I would like to write about the optimal solution for photographing preschool presentations and graduation ceremonies.
My child is finally graduating from nursery school, and I will write about my own solution for photographing the graduation ceremony.

Points and assumptions

Points.

The four main points are as follows.

  1. Prepare a high-sensitivity camera that is strong in dark places.
  2. Prepare a telephoto lens with a focal length of 300 mm or more.
  3. Prepare a monopod that takes up little space and prevents camera shake.
  4. Focus on either stills or movies.

This is only “my answer” and if the shooting conditions are different, the answer will also be different.

Premise.

Assumptions are as follows

  1. The venue is indoors
  2. Only normal indoor lighting is provided, no special lighting
  3. The distance from the subject is around 10 meters.
  4. Taking pictures while standing alongside other parents
  5. No space for a tripod, but enough space for a monopod
  6. One photographer.

Now, let me explain the points in detail.

[Point 1] Prepare a high-sensitivity camera that is strong in dark locations

This is a conclusion after the premise 1) and 2).

This time, my child’s graduation ceremony was held in a hall in the nursery school building.
All the windows were curtained off and the only light source was the normal room lighting on the ceiling.
It was not particularly dark, but it was not particularly bright either, so the ISO sensitivity had to be increased to some extent.

In this case, we would like to choose a so-called “high-sensitivity camera” that does not produce noise easily even when the ISO sensitivity is increased to some extent.
This can also be called “a model with high performance in dark areas.
These are models with sensors that do not have too many pixels (20 to 30 megapixels).

For example, Canon EOS R6 and SONY a7C are classified as such “high sensitivity models”.

I originally purchased the Canon EOS R6, which is strong in darkroom photography, because I often have opportunities to photograph children indoors at home.
It has been very useful not only for indoor shooting but also in various other situations.

[Point 2] Prepare a telephoto lens with a focal length of 300 mm or more

This is a conclusion in response to premise (3).

It is also based on the thought, “I want to take my child at about the angle of view of a bust shot (close-up).

A focal length of about 200mm to 400mm is the standard

If you want to take a bust shot of your child at a distance of about 10 meters, you will need a lens with a focal length of about 400mm.
With a focal length of 300mm, you would need a focal length of about waist-high, and with a focal length of 200mm, you would need a focal length of about knee-high.

Since this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, you want to capture your child as beautifully and as large as possible in the photo.
If possible, it is a good idea to prepare a lens of about 400mm.

Consider not disturbing your movement or others

However, if you do so, the lens will be quite large and heavy.
It would be a problem if it is difficult to carry and maneuver the lens, so we will consider the balance in this area.

Also, when shooting, the lens barrel will be extended and long, and if not handled properly, it may get in the way of other parents.
To avoid this, you will have to secure a shooting position that is out of the way, or if that is not possible, you will have to compromise by using a compact lens.
It is a good idea to get as much information as possible about what the surroundings are likely to be like on the day of the event.

I chose lenses based on my image of what I thought the surroundings would be like, recalling previous presentations and the like.
First of all, RF100-500mm F4.5-7.1 L IS USMI considered using RF70-200mm F2.8 L IS USM.
In reality, I would have liked to take a closer shot, but that can’t be helped.

RF100-400mm F5.6-8 IS USMThat might have been good for a compact lens, but f/8 at 400mm was a little too much even for the R6, which is strong in dark places. I decided to give it a miss.

By the way, the lens was rented.
I don’t usually have a chance to use such a super-telephoto lens, so I rent it every time I need it.

Standard-range lenses for off-shoot photography

If possible, a zoom lens that can also cover focal lengths between 35mm and 50mm would be even better.
If you can cover this focal length range, it will be useful for shooting off-shoots after the ceremony.
If a single zoom lens is not sufficient, it is a good idea to have a lens in the standard range and a lens in the telephoto range.

[Point 3] Prepare a monopod that takes up less space and prevents camera shake

This is a conclusion after the assumptions (4) and (5).

Tripod or monopod is essential to concentrate on the important event

Preparing a tripod or monopod is a must.
This is because it holds the camera in place so that you can focus on your child in front of you.

Hand-held photography has the following disadvantages

  • Shaking.
  • My child will be out of frame due to my hand holding the camera
  • I hate frame-outs so much that I am constantly worrying about the viewfinder or display and can’t concentrate on the ceremony

It would be too bad if you cannot concentrate on the important scene in front of you, if you cannot concentrate on the important moment that you are experiencing live.
With my child standing still, fix your camera on a tripod or monopod and focus your gaze and awareness on your child in front of you, not on the camera.

I recommend a monopod that stands on its own, not a complete monopod.

I prepared a SLIK STAPOD monopod and simple tripod.
It is a monopod, but it has a small foot and is divided into three sections to stand on its own.
It does not spread out like a tripod, so it can be used in tight spaces.
This was very useful.
However, it is not as stable as a tripod, so overconfidence can be dangerous.

Better to have a quick release plate as well

I used to hold the camera on the standpod when my child was stationary, but only when I was handholding my child to take pictures of her when she was walking.
In such cases, the quick-release plate is very useful to quickly remove the camera from the standpod and quickly reattach it.

I usually use the Ulanzi Quick Shoe Quick release plate, so I used this again.
It is very smooth and convenient to attach and detach the tripod and strap.

[Point 4] Focus on either stills (still images) or movies (moving images)

This is my conclusion in response to premise 6).

My wife and I attended the graduation ceremony together, but since my wife was contracted to produce the graduation album and was taking pictures for it, I had to take pictures of my child by myself.

I would have liked to take some pictures if I could.

  • The graduation ceremony is basically unchanged in composition
  • I want to show the video to the grandparents who could not attend.

This is the reason why we decided to concentrate on shooting the video.

If there are two photographers, you can divide up the work between them, with one taking stills and the other taking video, or if your camera has a function that allows you to take stills while shooting video, you can make full use of that.

After the graduation ceremony, I also took still photos of the children playing with their friends, and commemorative photos in front of the school.
The RF24-105mm F4 L IS USM, which I brought with me in addition to the 70-200, was very useful for these shots.

My main goal was not to take pictures, but to capture my child in front of me

In this article, I have written about the best solutions for photographing recitals and graduation ceremonies, but the main purpose of such events is to watch your child in front of you, and photographing is optional.

If you are going to go to the trouble of taking photographs, of course you want to do so as beautifully as possible, but you also want to be creative so that the options do not interfere with the main objective.

In that sense, the SLIK stand pod I prepared this time was very useful.

SLIK standpods are useful.

This was my first time using the SLIK STAPOD monopod and simple tripod.
In the past, at recitals and sports events, I was so focused on my child in front of me that my camera hand would move and the framing would not be stable at all.
I wish I had realized its existence earlier.

So, in this article, I have written my own answer titled Optimal solution for photographing nursery school and kindergarten recitals and graduation ceremonies.
How was it?

I would be happy if it could be of some help to you.
See you soon.

Recommendations for you after reading this article