Photography Tips for Poker Fanatics

Taking shots of people sat around a gaming table might well sound like one of the easiest gigs in the world. However, there are thousands of poor quality gaming shots on the internet, so it would seem it isn’t that easy after all. Controlled emotions (they don’t call it poker face for no reason) and sitting without any form of motion for sustained periods of time doesn’t necessarily lend itself to capturing stunning photos. It’s true there are many other sports that lend themselves to great photography. All that said, the best skilled gambling photographers always manage to bring home the very best shots! In this blog we will uncover relevant tips and suggestions that will be useful when capturing images in pretty much any low-movement environment.

Low-Light Photography

Low-Light Photography

Given that most poker rooms tend to be a little on the dark side you will want to make sure your low-light photography skills are reasonably hot. During any form of card game, you will be forbidden for using flash photography. This means that you are going to have to crank up the ISO and also try to work with lenses that are at least a 2.8 Aperture or smaller. However, be prepared to do battle with digital noise or image noise as it is often referred to that can start to creep in at some of the higher ISO’s. Of course, once the tournament is over you will be able to take images of the winner with whatever flash equipment you wish to use.

Setting Your Camera

Setting Your Camera

Here is a run-down of some of the basics that you should be looking at when it comes to configuring your camera:

  • ISO – generally speaking you should be looking at something around the 1,000 mark here
  • Aperture – Background blur can actually do you a big favor when it comes to non-moving shots. It gives a form of life, when things look a little bland. Working with a wide aperture will help to bring in as much light as you can. F/1.8-F/2.8 is ideally where you want to be for poker style shots.
  • Shutter Speed – As we already know, there isn’t much in the way of fast moving objects to worry about, as a result, shutter speed is largely irrelevant to poker shots.
  • White Balance – Tungsten bulbs can cause an issue here, if you leave the set-up to auto. It’s nearly always preferred to use a camera which has a tungsten feature built in. Failing that you will almost certainly have to mess around with the white-balance and take a guide from a plain white piece of paper.

Understanding the Rules

Understanding the RulesIf the situation arises that you find yourself being asked to attend as a photographer it’s pretty important that you know what to expect. Of course, if you are a seasoned player then it will be obvious what is happening and when.

You will need this knowledge to position yourself to anticipate which shots to take and when. Who are the players you need to watch for and what are their mannerisms? Who is likely to call big and who is likely to fold. Failing here and you are likely to miss out on some of the best photos available.

If you are a relative newbie to poker then it might be a good idea to play a few games. There is nothing quite like experiencing the game to help you to understand what your subjects are going to experience. You can do this with one of the many poker establishments around, the poker meet-up site is great for this. I personally prefer to play poker and other various casino games locally, but I have learned online, reading about the rules on and playing on Of course, it’s up to you to decide which way you learn to play the game, but you really should decide to have at least a working knowledge of the sport. This way you will be best placed to grab the shot of the tournament!

Approaching the Table

Approaching the TableWhen you get set up you will have to make a decision about which seat you want to focus your shooting on. In most cases it will be sensible to try to be a bit lower than the seat you are shooting. This way you can give the impression of more distance between you and your subject. Space is likely to be limited so rather than a tripod you might want to make use of a monopod.

At the start you will want to take a few “throw-away” shots of your subject. This way you can make 100 percent sure that all your settings are correct. Try to wait for the player to be looking up, as opposed to down. This nearly always makes for a better shot and you will also want to make sure the player has their cards.

Any telltale, giveaway facial expressions are there for you to capture. Just make sure you know what’s going on! Rinse and repeat for the remainder of the game and hopefully you will have some fantastic shots of the key moments of the game of poker.