Event Photography Tips
I have recently been asked to consider shooting a class reunion this summer by one of my wife’s colleagues. Always wanting to make sure I’m covering all my bases and that I know what I’d be getting myself into, I reached out to a few wedding photographer friends of mine to see if they had any insights that I might draw from as I make my decision and, potentially, prepare for the job. One of the things that comes up all the time in conversations with my friend Michael at work is to always start with the end in mind. And that certainly comes into play here.
It is always important to define the expectations at the outset so that everyone involved has a clear understanding of what their responsibilities are, how they fit into the grand scheme, and to make sure that all parties are working towards the same goal. Asking questions lets the client know that you are interested in making sure the event is a success and it also clarifies for you what they expect your role to be in achieving that success.
Formalizing all of this in a written agreement, or contract, serves a number of purposes: laying out what each person is responsible for, providing record of what the client wants from you, defining the scope of the project so that the client can anticipate the costs (including what fees may be applied when/if additional services are called for), and so forth.
Not only with event photography but with any type of creative work, it’s always a challenge to quantify what your talent and expertise is worth. I’ve heard over and over again that if you don’t charge enough, you won’t be taken seriously. If your fee is too low there is an implication that the quality of your work is pretty low as well. Alternatively, you can’t price too high there is a good chance potential clients won’t even bother. Either way, you won’t be getting jobs.
It’s a good idea to research others doing the same type of work and see what they are charging to get a ballpark of how others charge in relation to the quality of their services. This also informs you of what the market will bear in your area. A job here in Upstate NY could bring in 5-10 times as much in a more affluent region. In the end, though, you have to find a rate that will be doable for your clients while, at the same time, is respecting the skulls and experience that you’re bringing to the table.
The last thing I’ll mention is that with all of this – as well as the actual on-location and post-processing work – it is vital that you do your homework. Don’t just present yourself as a reliable service provider, be one. Case in point, there was an event I heard about that used someone they thought would be great based on their screening process. In the end, they paid a lot for snapshot-quality work with prints they had made at a CVS. That kind of situation leaves a bad taste in a client’s mouth and makes them look elsewhere next time – and they’ll probably share that experience with others who may be in the market for a photographer as well! So make sure you are prepared and will be able to execute.
I know there are many of you out there who are much more experienced than I am when it comes to event photography and could offer some excellent tips for those trying to break into the business. Please, leave comments below with your suggestions, recommended resources, success/horror stories, and any helpful hints you may have.
Looking forward to it!