For more than 15 years, I’ve been photographing events—from the tiniest employee-recognition cocktail parties to international conferences with thousands of attendees… and everything in between. Each comes with its own set of challenges and very often a unique list of needs from the clients.
Now that I’m on the event-planning side of the equation, here are five tips that your hired photographers may never have shared with you:
1. Tell me what to wear
No one likes to show up to a party under-dressed. That includes the photographer. I always appreciated being told how formal (or informal) an event was going to be. Even if the message from the event planner is as simple as “jacket and tie for this one, please” or “jeans and button-down okay, but no sneakers.” And don’t assume that even the most seasoned shooters will know what’s best to wear to each event. Times change. Events change. Fashions change.
2. The MC needs to be photographer’s best friend
If you want clear, smiling on-stage photos of all your award winners, the master of ceremonies has to help the photographer make those happen. The event planner should direct the MC that after the awards have been presented to line up quickly for a photo (not behind the podium!). Otherwise you’ll have a series of awkward moments in which the photographer is trying to create these photos in front of an annoyed audience. That’s never good.
3. Shot lists are great… until they get out of hand
Less is more! Trust me, having a reasonable amount of must-have photos on a shot list is way better than having an unmanageable list of maybe-want photos. Good event photographers will work a room, constantly capturing a lot of the faces. Keep only the most key group shots and moments on your list and you’ll be more assured of getting those photos… and much more!
4. Give me a ballpark percentage of candid to posed group shots
Does your client know what types of photos they want from the event? What fits their organization’s image best? Will candids work better for them on Facebook? Do they need more group shots for the annual report? I always found that even a rough guideline like “70/30 candids to group shots” was helpful in how I approached the whole shoot.
5. Be clear about when you need to receive the photos
All event photographers can tell you about the frantic “When am I going to get the photos?” emails and calls they’ve received. They’re gut-wrenching and schedule-crashing for photographers. And they almost always come from the client who blithely said “Just get me the photos sometime next week when you can. There’s no rush.” If you even just think you might need the photos by Friday at noon, say so.