Hiring an Event Photographer: What You Need to Know

If the saying, ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’ is really true, then you can imagine the implications of a whole album of incredible photos.

Conversely, consider the saying, ‘if a tree falls in the forest and no one hears it…’. If there is no photography at your event, did it even happen!?

While anyone with a camera can capture photos at your next conference, it’s important that you don’t trust just anyone with this role. If done correctly, the photos you take at your event can serve a multitude of purposes: a great reminder to attendees of their time at your event; an easy way to reach a new, future audience through social sharing (if attendees have an easy way to share the photos); and marketing collateral for future events are just a few that come to mind.

With all of this pressure to hire the perfect photographer for your next conference, what are the things you need to consider?

Budget: Quite often, I think the saying, ‘you get what you pay for’, applies when considering event photographers. If you have a close friend or family member who is a talented photographer and has offered up their skills for free or at cost, then of course ignore this statement — but otherwise, be prepared to pony up some dough to hire a quality photographer for your next event.

Be sure to gather pricing quotes from a handful of photographers before committing to one that works with your allocated photography budget. Think of your conference as you would your wedding — you’ve poured countless hours of work into this, don’t just trust this important task of capturing the essence of your event with anyone who owns a camera!

Portfolio: Taking photos of a conference is completely different from taking photos of babies, landscapes, sporting events, rock concerts, etc. Ask to see your potential photographer’s web portfolio and samples of past work, in particular previous conferences they’ve shot. What percentage of their business is shooting similar events? Does their style and approach match your event’s branding and image?

Communication: When examining a potential photographer’s website, be sure to take a good look at their Contact page. Is there an easy way to reach them? Phone number only? Email address? Facebook page, Twitter account, Pinterest profile and Instagram, too? Lots of options to connect often implies it is easy to get a hold of the photographer.

If you’re someone who requires immediate responses, but it takes over two weeks for a potential photographer to respond to your initial inquiry, perhaps it’s time to move to option #2.

Insurance: It’s extremely important to make sure any photographer you hire is insured (at least up to $1M). If something happens to them or their equipment while they are at your conference, you do not want to be held liable.

Equipment: Is your conference happening in a dark basement? A conference room with no windows? Indoors? Outdoors? Be sure to share all of the important details on location with any potential photographer to make sure they have (or are able to obtain) the right equipment (flashes, etc.) in order to capture your event in the most appropriate light. Additionally, do they own backup equipment in case something goes awry with their go-to camera or flash?

Reviews: You wouldn’t hire an employee without checking their references first, right? Same goes with an event photographer. With the ease of creating online web portfolios these days, most photographers will include quotes and reviews from previous clients on their website — but feel free to ask for additional references from recent clients before you make a decision.

Photo-Sharing Technologies? In this day and age, lots of photographers offer interactive photo-sharing technologies so attendees can share photos on-site during your event. If you want guests to share photos during the event itself, be sure to bring this up during your initial conversations to see if this is an option. If

Contract & Expectations: It’s absolutely vital (for both you and the photographer) to openly communicate what each of you will be looking for and expecting from your partnership. Everything from ‘how can I get in touch with you if I have an urgent question?’ to their expected attire on the day of the event; and what time you need the photographer onsite, to how and when you will receive your photos, what is included in their pricing, and if you have unlimited, exclusive rights to the photos afterwards?

You should also ensure they have a base list of ‘must have’ photos from the event, just so they can’t accidentally miss the most important elements such as the organizers opening address, keynote speaker, glorious buffet or sparkling champagne reception.

Make a checklist of your questions and expectations, and be sure to cover (and get answers to) every one of them before signing a contract.

Do you have any horror/success stories with hiring a photographer for your conference? Share your tips in the comments below!