Booking a Photographer for Your Next Event? Here is What You Need to Know.
#1 If You Don’t Have a Plan for the Images, You’re Wasting Your Money
Documenting the event is not enough. The goal when hiring a photographer should be to capture images you can use in future marketing campaigns. For example, if you were a meeting planner who is producing an annual meeting, you would want images that help you promote next year’s annual meeting. However, it does not end there. Think of how you can use images throughout the year in social media, website, annual report or other marketing materials. Without a plan for image use, you will be wasting your budget on a professional photographer.
#2 Always Hire a Photographer That Understands Your Business and Your Event
Beware of a photographer that does not ask questions. A professional photographer will inquire about what your goals are and how you plan to use the images from your event. The right photographer will need to know who are the key players of your event and the “can’t miss” moments. They will also have a conversation with you about the type of images you need. For example, if your organization were looking to attract younger attendees or employees, the photographer should plan to capture images of younger people having fun.
#3 Find Someone Who Speaks to Your Style
Like any other artist, photographers have a particular style. Moreover, like any other business relationship, a great determinant of success with event photography is how well the photographer you choose fits your vision. Does their existing portfolio match your vision? If you see a photographer’s portfolio, and she is mostly shooting outdoor sporting events, she may not have the skill set to shoot a speech in a dark room at a convention center. Find a photographer that focuses on the type of images you need and go from there.
#4 Be Wary of Weekend or Part-Time Photographers
If a photographer has a full time job outside of photography, be prepared to be left in the cold if that job needs him or her. Countless clients have hired our team at the last minute to replace weekend photographers who had other commitments that stopped them from fulfilling their responsibilities. It is natural to want to take care of our primary income first. There is a different sense of commitment from a full-time photographer whose reputationto his clients is what keeps his business operating. Also, a part-time photographer likely does not have the same level of experience or camera equipment as a full-time professional photographer.
#5 Look for a Photographer with the Right Kind of Equipment
What is worse than having bad pictures? Having no pictures. Technology is not foolproof. Photography equipment, like any other equipment, can malfunction. Photographers work in real timeand need to capture moments as they happen—there is no time to ask a whole audience to reset. The easiest way to prevent potential problems is to carry two cameras at all times. Another potential problem is having a camera save to one memory card. Memory cards sometimes corrupt, and when they do, it is a painstaking and costly process to attempt to salvage what is on the card. And sometimes those images are lost forever. To prevent this outcome, you want photographers who only use cameras that have dual memory slots, which essentially saves images to two different memory cards simultaneously.
#6 Think as an Editor
What do editors do? They send photographers to capture powerful images that tells the story. When a newspaper editor sends his photographers to a news event, they have a brief. The editor knows the story and how she wants to tell the narrative. So if you are the editor of your event, what is your story? What would be the front-page image for your story? Your website is your newspaper, and the homepage is your newspaper front page. Be an editor and work with your photographer to capture those images that best tell your story.
#7 Ask to See a Gallery of a Entire Event, Not Just The Best Images
Remember you are buying hundreds of images, not just the top ten. It is not enough to show a client your best images. A photographer needs to show you the full gallery for an event similar to the one that you want to hire him for. By viewing the entire gallery, you can see what your images should look like and the amount of pictures you are likely to receive. If it is a multi-day meeting, are the different sessions separated by folders or all in a daily batch? Browsing the gallery for a few minutes will indicate to you if the good pictures you see on the photographer’s website are indicative of his body of work as a whole or just his best images.
#8 Are You Looking for a Strategic Partner or Vendor?
A vendor that becomes a strategic partner is worth its weight in gold. You need strategic partners to pull off a quality event. Top photographers shoot dozens of events a year just like yours and work with many quality vendors. A quality photographer will be able to point you in the right direction if you are looking at other services. There have been plenty of times when our team has seen something interesting at a trade show, or met a vendor that is doing interesting things, and we send an email to our clients to let them know that they should look into this new idea for their own event. Access to this network and new ideas is the power of having a strategic partner versus a purely transactional vendor relationship.
#9 Know that Timely Communication is Key
Event planning is highly detailed. Communication before, during and after the event is critical. Find out how detail-oriented a photographer is by seeing how she responds during the planning stages. Does she answer emails in a timely fashion? Does she respond to your particular question or just send you a generic response? Each event is unique and the approach to it should be unique as well. Every event though should have timely communication at every stage of the process.