10 Tips for Choosing the Right Event Photographer
Are you in need of a photographer to capture your next corporate conference, cocktail party, wedding, or company retreat? If you’ve recently started searching for one, you’re probably realizing what a daunting task it can be, as there are thousands of photographers to choose from. Here are some tips to keep in mind when choosing your event photographer.
Know your budget. This is the first step in narrowing down your options for a professional photographer. When planning your budget, keep in mind the length of your event. Is it a four-hour cocktail party or a five-day conference? If you’re on a tight budget, consider hiring a friend or family hobbyist to photograph your event.
Decide on your photographic style. What are these photos going to be used for? Most events are being photographed for historical purposes, to get a general catalog of event attendees, speakers, and entertainment. This usually also includes the classic posed, smiling shots which are great to have as mementos of your event. If you’re going to be using the photos for other purposes such as marketing collateral for use in websites and brochures, then you may want to have the photographer shoot in a slightly different, more commercialized style.
Ask friends and family for references. Word of mouth can still be one of the best ways to learn about well-respected professional photographers in your area. If you do end up contacting a photographer that was referred to you, be sure to mention your connection when you introduce yourself. Who knows, you might even get a discount for being a referral.
Search online and read online reviews. Now it’s time to turn to Google. Check customer reviews to make sure the photographer has a good reputation. Also, look at the photographer’s website to get a feel for who they are and their typical photographic style. If they have a poorly designed website you'll want to proceed with caution as they might not be as experienced.
Look through their portfolio before hiring. These days most people have at least a portion of their portfolio on their website, which makes it super easy to review their past work. You can always ask if they have other work samples or a hard-copy portfolio to flip through if that makes you more comfortable. When looking at their portfolio, take note of the types of shots they take, how well they photograph the event venues, as well as how dynamic they can be in their photography.
Find out their experience with events of approximately the same size as yours. Let them know how many people you are expecting at your event, and ask if they have a lot of experience handling events of this size. Ask what they found challenging, exciting, and/or interesting about working an event of that size. Feel them out to make sure they can handle your event. Listen to any concerns they may have.
Get a feel for the industries they have the most experience with. If you’re considering a photographer to hire for your event, you'll want to be sure they have at least some experience handling similar events. If you’re planning a corporate leadership summit and they have only covered weddings and family events, they may not be the best fit for you. Their portfolio should be enough for you to determine this, but if not, just ask them how many similar events they have covered.
Ask how quickly they can develop the photos and produce results. Unfortunately, a lot of photographers may take great photos, but when it comes down to developing hard copy photos or retouching digital images, they take too long to produce results. This is why it is critical that you ask your photographer how quickly they can develop your photos or re-touch your digital images. It’s best to get this agreement in writing to protect your investment.
Make sure you have good chemistry with your photographer. Finally, it’s important that you feel a good chemistry between yourself and your photographer since you will be working with them for the duration of your event. Do you trust the photographer's artistic skills? Are they easy to talk to and do they freely answer all your questions? Keep in mind they will also be interacting with your event attendees on some level, so you’ll want to be sure they are generally a friendly person with good social skills. Once you have all of the above information, it’s time to hire your photographer!
Meet prior to the event and review expectations. Now that you have decided on your photographer, you should plan to meet with them prior to the event so that you can review your expectations along with any specifics you want them to cover. For example, let them know if you want them to take photos of the event location before your attendees arrive. Also, tell them where the VIP guests will be so that they can photograph this group at your event. Give them a run-down of the event schedule so they are aware of all the main elements to photograph.