Vivid in Sydney
Vivid in Sydney Jenn Cooper, Canon Collective

Vivid Sydney 2017: How to capture the magic

VIVID Sydney - the world's largest interactive lighting display - is lighting up the Harbour City and bringing out thousands of people hoping to capture the magic on camera.

More than 2.3 million people are expected to attend the festival this month which features more than 250 events spanning 23 nights until June 17, 6pm-11pm

The best vantage points include The Rocks, Hickson Road Reserve, Bradfield Park and Luna Park.

Sydney director Ash Bolland will be lighting up Opera House iconic sails with Audio Creatures, an animated display of underwater visuals curated to the soundtrack of Brazilian electronic producer Amon Tobin.

It has been described as the "most technically ambitious".

Across Circular Quay, the largest interactive light display in the world, Dreamscape, will link the entire precinct from the Harbour Bridge to Cahill Expressway and some of Sydney's skyscrapers.

Lights for the Wild at Taronga Zoo will showcase an array of multimedia sculptures including a Sumatran Tiger and giant Port Jackson Shark.

Other Vivid installations can be found in Martin Place, Kings Cross, The Royal Botanic Gardens and Barangaroo.

So what's the best way of capturing all the magic on camera?

We caught up with Jenn Cooper, Canon Collective Ambassador.

Vivid in Sydney
Vivid in Sydney Jenn Cooper, Canon Collective

1. What do you enjoy photographing the most at Vivid?

The light - not the installations necessarily but the way their light transforms a city I've shot many time before. When it rained last year that was the most exciting time for me to shoot - the backlit raindrops across the harbour was unbelievably breathtaking!

2. What do your children enjoy the most at Vivid?

The ferry ride over to Circular Quay from Manly. The Opera House was so we'll designed last year it was a captivating event to a 4 year old.

3. Do you have any 'off the beaten track' spots that you go to during Vivid, either on your own, or with your family?

Yes, I like to get a bird's eye view on the festival. Either from the viewing platforms of tall buildings (local buildings around CQ that have a balcony/platform/observation decks) or the Cahill express way you can get a really unique perspective when you get off the beaten track.

Vivid in Sydney
Vivid in Sydney Jenn Cooper, Canon Collective

How to get a truly unique perspective - if you follow the crowd you'll get all the shots they will get too. A better tip is to go where there are less people, this may not be at the harbour itself.

4. How do you currently see families taking photographs at Vivid?

I see a lot of families taking pictures on iPads or their smartphones - then looking disappointed when they don't turn out right. My advice to families; Mum's & Dad's please take your camera out of the bag and leave the iPad at home!

Use a camera because you'll get better quality images. If you don't own a camera, Canon have a range of products for people to hire ( from powerful SLR's like the 80D to smaller lightweight devices like the M6. 

Vivid in Sydney
Vivid in Sydney Jenn Cooper, Canon Collective

I recommend setting up the shot just how I would like it to be and politely ask a passer-by if they would take a picture for us. In return if you see a Mum taking a family picture just ask if she would like to be in it.

6. To make for easy shooting off the Auto mode, is there a golden rule of settings that can help families shoot in low light?

This depends on what you're shooting and whether you have a tripod. A good place to start is set the camera to TV mode with auto ISO then experiment with the shutter speed to get the best shot.

I like the long exposures at 25 sec capturing the light trails of the boats as they pass through the harbour. Or a faster shutter speed for taking family pictures like 1/60sec is good.

Have your family in front of the light work, try introducing flash on low setting (when on TV mode) to illuminate your family but keeping the artwork illuminated

7. In low light conditions, people not photography savvy tend to turn their flash on instinctively, which could make or break your shot. So, go with the flash or leave it in the bag?

Depends on the shot, I've never been a huge advocate for a flash myself but some people prefer it. If you're photographing people in front of vivid lights, YES turn the flash on - but if you're photographing the vivid lights in the distance NO flash!

8. Given Vivid can attract large crowds, how can families take photos and stay as the focus of the frame?

Pick your moment to get the family picture you desperately want, don't shoot if you can hardly see the kids for the crowd, find a quiet location with a clean background and make it happen quickly before the kids run off.

9. How can parents capture their children in photos without it looking too staged or stock standard?

Shoot candid shots when they are just being their adorable selves. Don't force a smile and never make them say cheese - I remind my kids of a funny family joke before I take their picture that cracks them up every time! The key to shooting candid, is always having your camera ready!

10. How can kids get behind taking photos? As they often have a really unique point of view.

Get them a little tough camera or a disposable one let their creativity run wild. Talk to them about how the light looks or point out what a nice shot that would be.  It's always interesting seeing what kids capture, you might be pleasantly surprised!