The title of ‘Event Photographer’ might not sound particularly glamourous or exciting, but the role has far more to offer than simply shooting people holding awkward poses. Each event holds different challenges, so you need to think on your feet, and each client requires a different set of shots. Let’s take a deeper look at event photography.
Some clients may want a series of reportage style photos of the people and interactions, where as others will want you to focus on the setting. Here, we’ll look at some of the requirements of an event photographer to equip you to capture and represent the events you attend in the best way.
1. Getting the Gig
The first thing you need to do is to get your name out there. It can be hard to begin with as people are less inclined to employ someone with less experience, but as you build up a portfolio of work, you’ll find that people will be willing to take a chance on you.
This gives you the opportunity to show them you can do a good job and if you deliver, then others will begin to trust you as a photographer and look to employ you. If you’re clients are happy, then not only will they come back to you, but they’ll tell their friends. Don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth.
You also have options such as advertising, both in print and online, but I’d say the most important thing is to have a well structured and easy to use website to showcase your previous to act as a point of contact for potential clients.
Photo by Simon Bray
2. Building the Relationship
Once you’ve secured a gig, it’s important that you have conversations with the client as to what they want from the shoot. Some will have very clear thoughts on the types of shots they want. Others will be far less clued up on what to expect from a photographer, so it’s essential to be clear and concise from the start so that everyone knows what the expectations are from the shoot.
As an event photographer, there’s nothing much worse than delivering the photos to find that they’re just not what the client was looking for. Having conversations beforehand will clarify the shoot and reduce the chances of that happening.
Be honest about what your capabilities are and don’t make promises that you can’t honor, otherwise you’ll get yourself into trouble when you can’t make it happen!
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3. The Type of Event
It’s important that you gauge not only what is required of you, but also what type of shots are going to be appropriate for the type of event that you’re working at. The style required for a wedding is going to vary from that required for a gallery opening or drinks function. So have a think about the style in which you want to shoot and how to best represent the event’s atmosphere.
It’s also vital that you understand who the most important people at the event are. At a wedding it’s obvious, but at a corporate event it might not be so easy, so ensure that your client is able to point out who you should be prioritizing.
It may be the case that you need to get shots of certain people in a group or shaking hands, so again, have someone on hand to help you organize the right people in the right place.
Photo by Simon Bray
4. Get the Shots You Need
Before you start getting too creative, it’s important that you get a good bank of shots that capture the event. This could well include some wide angle shots to establish the venue, both inside and out. Get some detail shots of some of the more interesting aspects of the event and then also the key people involved.
Once you’ve got those in the bag, you can start thinking about creative angles and vantage points. I always find that I get more confident and creative as an event progresses, as I’m more comfortable with the surroundings and the guests are more comfortable with me. As the event goes on, feel free to revisit the shots you did at the start and see if you can try them in a different way.
Photo by Simon Bray
5. Don’t be Precious
So once the event is over, it’s up to you to convert and post-process in a responsible manner. By that, I mean that the majority of people will not want to see vast amounts of creative editing, filters and Photoshopping. They’d much prefer a set of clear and crisp shots that are true to life, so bear that in mind when working in Photoshop and don’t get carried away.
You have to remember that you’re working for the client. What you see as a great photo, they may not like. In the end, you have to deliver what they require of you. You’ve stamped your mark on the shots through the creative decisions made in camera, the exposure, composition and editing, so don’t get frustrated if they reject your favorite shot. It might just not serve the purpose they want it for.
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The delivery of the shots is something that you should communicate with your client over from the start. They may want to view the files online first before selecting the chosen images, they may just want to receive a physical disc in the mail, they may even want to meet in person to discuss the images. It’s important that you do all you can to meet their needs and go the extra mile to ensure that you have a happy customer.
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7. Stay in Touch
If you’ve done a good job and the client is happy, that’s the first step towards being invited back next time. But sometimes people just need a gentle reminder to remember to get in touch to ask you back. A simple email or postcard will suffice, nothing over the top, just to inquire as to whether they have any events coming up that might require your services.
Once a client has built up trust with a photographer they’re likely to continue using them as opposed to taking a gamble on someone different, but bear in mind that you’ll need to make sure your prices are competitive!
Photo by Simon Bray
8. Everyone is a Potential Client
When you’re just starting out this can be easy to forget, but you never know who you’re going to meet and who might need a photographer in the future. It’s important to be aware.
Don’t be afraid to mention that you’re available for work. Having a business card in this scenario is essential, it will mean that the other party will remember that point of contact and will be able to get in touch with you if they need to.
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9. Over to You
Now it’s up to you to get out there and start capturing those events. Maybe start out with a friend’s birthday to get a feel for it and get the confidence you need to find paid work.
Try and work out the type of events you want to be work. Try to find a niche that you love, then you’ll find the whole experience extremely rewarding.
Photo by Simon Bray
How To Get Started For Event Photography
1. Practice Shooting at Local Events
Before you present yourself as a professional expert in event photography, you’ll want to gain some experience. Even if you have strong skills in another area—such as shooting family portraits—you will need to learn the nuances of taking event photos.
One of the best ways to gain experience is by volunteering at local events. Try offering your photography services to a local charitable organization that may not have the budget to hire professional photographers. Another alternative is to contact an established event photographer and offer to assist at an event. This will provide you with a great path to building professional expertise and credibility as an event photographer.
You can also bring a camera along to events you personally attend. Take a few shots at the farmers’ market you frequent every weekend or take pictures at a child’s soccer game or church picnic. Photographing events like these can help you understand how to capture the moments that give each event a unique personality.
2. Establish Your Pricing
What should I charge for event photography? This is a common question among photographers. The truth is that event photography pricing varies widely. Factors such as the size and location of the event play a big role. And your experience matters, too.
As a general rule, most well-established professionals charge rates per hour between $200 to $500. You may want to charge less at first—and grow your rates over time.
Remember that you’ll be responsible for investing your time, bringing the right cameras and lighting equipment, and documenting key moments of the event. You’ll also likely spend some time planning and preparing for the event in advance.
Plan on uploading event photos to a gallery for purchase by individual guests. This way, you can earn extra money from event attendees who want to have a memento of the experience. Consider charging a fee to let attendees license the photo for private use. You could also offer tiered print packages.Related Posts 7 Tips for Great Street Photography
3. Create Standard Contracts
Before any event, you’ll want to have a signed contract with the event organizer. It’s a good idea to have a standard event photography contract template to present to every client.
Be sure your contract covers the following key elements:
You should have a designated point of contact on the client’s side who is responsible for guiding your work. This individual should also be available to you during the event to answer questions or resolve any concerns you may have.
Schedule at least one pre-event planning meeting. Use this session to finalize plans for shooting times and locations—and to gather a list of any photographs your client would like you to shoot. If clients want you to take images of specific people or specific groups of people, they should take responsibility for making that happen. They should point out or introduce you to specific individuals and help gather people for any specific group shots.
Reservation and Deposit
Most professional photographers require a 50% payment of the full estimated fee at the time of booking. This deposit guarantees that you will be present at the event. Typically, your client should pay the deposit when they sign the contract.
Shooting Time and Additional Time
You and the client should agree on a specific shooting start time. This may not always align with the start time of the event. If the event start is delayed, the shooting start time should remain the same. You should also agree on a specific number of hours of shooting time—and the rate for each hour.
Also, agree on the cost of any additional time that the client requires beyond the initial agreed-upon shooting time. That way, the client will compensate you if delays arise or the client finds a need for extra time beyond the original estimate.
Prints, Digital Images, and Copyrights
Specify how you plan to deliver final images to the client. Will you provide digital images on a CD or online photo gallery? Will you deliver prints?
Be sure to note in the event photography contract that you will retain copyright. The client should also have permission to publish and share the images.
Completion Schedule and Final Payment
Let the client know when you expect to deliver final copies of their images. You can typically estimate one to two weeks for delivery after the event.
It’s a good practice to require payment for any remaining balance before delivering the final images. This way, you can ensure you’ll get paid promptly for your event photography work. Related Posts 7 Ways to Make Your Fashion Photography Stand Out from the Crowd
Submit your final event photography invoice the day after the event. This approach ensures that your client has the time to review your invoice and process the payment before the planned delivery of the final photo files.
4. Bring the Right Equipment
Always make sure you know about the venue before the event. That way, you can be sure to bring the right event photography equipment with you to capture the perfect event photos.
If the venue is indoors, it’s likely that the lighting will be poor. Be sure to select cameras and lenses that perform well in low light. Many expert photographers recommend lenses with fast aperture speeds since they provide fast focusing and capture sharp images in low light environments. If you’re in a small venue, a zoom lens may not be necessary—but be sure to have one on hand for larger venues.
A flash can be helpful in event photography—but avoid using your camera’s built-in flash. Instead, use a flash that mounts to your camera or an off-camera flash. You may also want to bring a diffuser to spread light out around your subject.
At some events, the organizers may want you to push out some photos right away on social media. In these cases, bring along a wireless camera tether that links your camera to your phone. This lets you post photos to social media in real time.
Finally, remember to bring backups for all your gear in your camera bag. Be sure to bring extra batteries and memory cards. Professional photographers recommend having duplicates of all your key event photography equipment so that you are prepared for the unexpected.
5. Plan for Candid and Action Shots
Often, you will want to take shots of people in action to capture the mood and energy of the event. Even if your client tasks you with shooting certain people or groups, chances are you won’t have lengthy opportunities to pose your subjects. Attendees want to spend their time mingling and experiencing the event—not stepping away for a long photo shoot.
A good event photographer stays alert and ready to capture an interesting picture at any moment. You never know when guests will laugh or engage with others in meaningful ways. Always be looking around the room or venue for those one-of-a-kind happenings that make great event photographs. Experiment with various photography angles to bring the event to life.
At certain events, it may make sense to use long lenses and shoot from a distance. This setup can work especially well in corporate event photography, especially if action is taking place on a stage or small groups cluster in corners of a room. Related Posts How to Improve Your Cityscape Photography in 10 Easy Steps
6. Batch Edit Images in Lightroom
Any event can easily produce 1,500 to 2,000 photos—but not all of them are worth sharing with your client. Fortunately, you can use Lightroom to make quick work of culling and editing your event photos.
Start by importing all the event images into Lightroom. Go through each one individually—and use Lightroom’s star rating system to select the ones you want to keep. You likely want to choose some standout images that work well on their own, while keeping others that help tell the overall story of the event.
Now you can apply Lightroom presets to the photos you’ve chosen to keep. Many photographers use the same preset for all images from a specific event to give them a consistent look and feel. For example, if you worked at an evening event—such as a formal gala or a concert—try a preset from the Night Light Lightroom presets collection.
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