Here is a simple technique which some of you might already know of – shooting from the hip without looking through the viewfinder.
At weddings, when photographing the party and dancing during the reception with a wide-angle lens, I often don’t hold the camera up to my eye. Instead I rely on the infra-red beam from the speedlight to show me what the camera is focusing on. Then, using the focus-lock-and-hold method, I keep focus and reframe the shot if needed. This way I can shoot from the hip without looking through the viewfinder, but still have images that are well composed.
Here are a few images from recent weddings I photographed:
(None of them were cropped to post them here.)
When moving between the guests like that, it is imperative that I don’t annoy anyone by blasting flash in their faces. This is a large part of the decision why I use this particular method to bounce my flash – using a piece of black foam to flag my speedlight.
At the same time also note in this image above, that there was no dodging and burning - yet, the lighting on the guests dancing here is quite even on a number of planes. And the guy in the foreground isn’t more brightly lit than the girls he is dancing with.
Of course, it is the same technique when holding my camera overhead.
It isn’t simply a matter of hoping for the best and blindly firing away – with a bit of practice there is actually a fair measure of accuracy here in framing the images even when not looking through the viewfinder.