GETTING THE BEST EVENT PHOTOGRAPHY
HAVING A PHOTOGRAPHIC RECORD OF YOUR CAREFULLY PLANNED EVENT MIGHT SEEM EASIER THAN EVER. THE WIDE PROLIFERATION OF SMARTPHONES, ALL EQUIPPED WITH RELATIVELY SOPHISTICATED LENSES, MIGHT MAKE IT SEEM LIKE ANYONE CAN BE A PHOTOGRAPHER. THIS IS SIMPLY NOT TRUE--AND ESPECIALLY SO FOR EVENTS, WHERE LIMITATIONS LIKE TRICKY LIGHTING, INDOOR VENUES, ODD TIMES OF DAY, AND CROWDS OF PEOPLE COULD CHALLENGE ALL BUT THE MOST SKILLED PHOTOGRAPHER. SMARTPHONE PHOTOGRAPHY CAN BE USEFUL AT EVENTS, SURE, BUT WE HAVE SEEN THE BLURRY, BADLY LIT, AND AWKWARD FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM PHOTOS TO PROVE IT ISN'T THE BEST WAY TO DOCUMENT YOUR EVENT.
HERE ARE OUR TIPS FOR GETTING THE MOST OUT OF THE PRO YOU HIRE.
WHERE TO FIND THEM
One of the best ways to find photographers is through referrals. Visit some websites of events or event planners you admire and see who they are using for their photographs. Some production companies keep a photographer on retainer or on staff--occasionally these folks will agree to subcontract out for another event as long as it doesn't compete with their regular biz. Asking other event professionals is also a great route. Chat with your caterer, your lighting guys, your event planner. Usually they will know someone stellar. If you're on a budget and want someone with a pro eye who might be trying to build their portfolio, local art schools, especially university MFA programs, are a great source. These folks have all had to go through a vetting process to be admitted to this level of professional achievement, but are often still trying to find footing in their industry. Get in on the ground floor with someone you like and you may be able to use them for many years to come.
WHAT THEY SHOULD SHOOT
Generally, experienced photographers will have a kind of "set list" of pictures that they think are unmissable but the best way to get what you want is to set your expectations from the beginning. For instance, if what you want to focus on is portraiture, make sure you have a set up where your photographer can get wonderful photos of your guest and attendees. On the other hand, you may only want to capture the set, lighting, florals, and other design aspects with few or no people visible. Make sure you are on the same page with your photographer to ensure you get the result you expect.
As with all independent vendors, you need to be sure that you have a rock-solid contract with your photographer. Make sure they, and you, have agreed upon pricing for everything from travel expenses to shooting times to digital images and/or prints. Most pros will have this clearly delineated and well-in-hand but with talented but newer photographers, you may have to do more of the heavy lifting in terms of getting the contract you want. Be certain there are fail-safes for problems like cameras that break and fail to capture essential moments or digital prints that go missing after the fact. These are moments you cannot recapture, so be sure you know you will be able to get the images you want.
HAVE THEM ARRIVE EARLY
The perfect time to get clear shots of your set up is before anyone arrives. We think it's an essential part of the event to photograph all of the sets, details, food, etc. to showcase your excellent planning in all its glory. The only way to do this is to have your photographer arrive a solid hour, at least, before any of your attendees. Additionally, this helps your photographer be less visible during the event itself and allows them to focus on the people there and the event as it unfolds, having taken all of the foundational photos at the beginning.
DON'T OVERDO IT
No one likes attending an event and having a camera thrust in their face repeatedly. It's unpleasant and can interrupt the experience of the event that you have worked so hard for your guests to enjoy. That said, people do love to have their photo taken when they look their best, which they often do attending special events. Make sure that you and your photographer agree on the number, pacing, and style of shooting that they will do for you so that you get the value you're expecting, while not creating a disruptive presence at the event.
SET UP FOR QUICK TURNAROUND
Very often events are time-sensitive. Having a photographer experienced with quick edit process and short-timeline image delivery is pretty essential. In an age of instant digital images, we humans have come to expect to see our photographs fairly immediately after the fact. For professionals, this can create a time challenge due to the need to review and edit a large volume of high resolution images. One strategy is to have them pull VIP attendee images first, or to prioritize a group or block of photos that you would like to have delivered first, such as the keynote speech, or a sampler of 20 "best of" images from the event. This way, you can put teaser images up on your website in short order and it creates a reason for people to continue revisiting your brand property to see more.
KEEP THEM OR MOVE ON
If your initial referral yielded a dud, well, there's not much to do besides payment, a thank you, and looking for someone you gelled with better the next time. If you found a quality lead on a photographer you'd like to use again, find a way to solidly establish an ongoing work relationship with them. Event professionals stick together--be sure you refer them to other clients, offer to pay them a bit more the next time for better access to them and priority scheduling or other premium services--or see if they will lower their rate a little for you in exchange for your loyalty. Very few artist, entrepreneurs, and independent contractors will turn down ongoing work for a slightly lower rate if there is some guarantee of income. Keeping that relationship going will ensure that in the future, you have someone who really understands how you want to communicate your work visually and this is an extremely valuable asset.
IF YOU'D LIKE TO SEE OUR EVENT GALLERY, CLICK HERE. WE HAVE SHOWCASED A FEW OF OUR FAVORITE EVENTS THAT WE HAVE PRODUCED--AND I THINK YOU CAN SEE WHERE OUR PHOTOGRAPHERS HAVE DONE A STELLAR JOB OF CAPTURING OUR EVENT LANDSCAPES.