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A Nine Step Guide to Being an Event Photographer

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This post is part of a series called Event Photography.
10 Tips on How to Photograph a Business Conference

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!

Photo by Simon Bray

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.

Photo by Simon Bray

6. Delivery

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.

Photo by Simon Bray

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.

Photo by Simon Bray

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
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