How to Hire the Right Event Photographer - Photoshots - the web folio of Tony Stewart.

How to Hire the Right Event Photographer

Do you want to ensure your event photos are memorable? Here is what you need to know when hiring the right event photographer.

When it comes to capturing the magic of your event, there is a huge difference between hiring any photographer, and hiring a great photographer. Whether it’s a ball, conference, prizegiving or formal dinner, a skilled photographer can make all the difference in capturing your people, and providing imagery to the story you want to tell. But with so many options out there, how do you choose the right one?

Ask for referrals

Check their portfolio

Ideally Meet With Them

Pre-determine any key shots and make a list

Check what they can bring

Check their equipment and back up plan

Organise your introductions & runsheet


1) Ask for Referrals

Ask friends, family, or colleagues who have recently hosted an event for recommendations. They can provide valuable insights into a photographer’s work ethic, communication style, and overall quality of service.

2) Check Their Portfolio

Look at the photographer’s portfolio to get a sense of their style and expertise. Check for consistency in their work and pay attention to the quality of the images. Do they have experience shooting events similar to yours? Can they work with low light?
Do people look comfortable, like they are having fun? Do photos capture the essence of the event?
Is there attention to detail – do people have crooked ties? straps showing? stay hair? awkward hands? holding empty glasses? You get the picture.
Guests riding on a Hagglund at the International Antarctic Centre, Christchurch, New Zealand.
Event photography with group posed next to therometer at the International Antarctic Centre, Christchurch, New Zealand.
Group poses in chiller, at the International Antarctic Centre, Christchurch, New Zealand.

3) Ideally Meet with Them

Finally, meet with the photographer where this is possible to discuss your needs and expectations. Pay attention to their communication style, attention to detail, and overall professionalism.

4) Define Your Needs

Firstly, consider the type of event and the style of photography you’re looking for. Do you want candid, natural shots? Or more formal, posed photos? Do you want a photographer who specializes in a particular style, such as black and white photos? Or candid documentary style?
Or are you wanting a static base, using the a backdrop, lit with studio lighting? Don’t worry if a venue may appear dark or space not overly salubrious. This can be transformed and adapted by your photographer.
You will need to provide a sufficient ‘footprint’ to ensure enough space background and lights. This can often be overlooked, and is a really important consideration if expecting large groups (as well as power access). If the photographer is forced to be too close, they will need to use a wide angle lens. Which sadly will distort people. Generally speaking, you’ll need to co-ordinate the best space to account for any change in weather or temperature. Especially if your preference may be outdoors, or have an early start for a longer session.
Rationalise how long you might require photos, especially if people are drinking! People will be looking their best on arrival, and the most relaxed mid evening. Left too late, and the wild party you might be showcasing, is at risk of not being ‘on brand’ if you know what I mean?! Yet happy fun people could well be, so just make sure its a deliberate decision.
Hillary Barry with award recipients at Selwyn District Council Awards, Rolleston.
Award recipient and sponsor Selwyn District Council Awards, Rolleston.
Conference attendees enjoying a mix and mingle at morning tea.

5) Pre-determine Any Key Shots and Make a List

If you provide a list of  ‘must haves’, this will go a long way to ensure you aren’t disappointed afterwards should there be special moments not recorded. Especially if you have VIP’s, dignitaries, or special invited guests. Not least of all sponsors!!
Do point key people out so the photographer knows who they are, and were they may be seated.

6) Check What They Can Bring

An established event photographer will have all the right lighting kit, backgrounds, and most likely, props. The later can be a lot of fun if you are after playful and ‘silly’. Wigs, glasses, sports kit, soft toys, boas, hats ….the options are endless!
They should also have a necessary leads, weights, clips, lead covers as needed for ensuring a safe area, free of trip and bump hazards.

7) Check Their Equipment and Backup Plan

Make sure the photographer has professional-grade equipment, and a backup in the event of equipment failure.
Do they have a spare camera body? Spare batteries for cameras and flash? Are light stands to be weighted? Is electrical equipment certified?
What happens if they cant make it? If there is or bad weather?

8) Organise Your Introductions & Runsheet

Make sure you provide introductions on the night (or day)! If there is a dedicated event co-ordinator, MC or presenter, it will always pay to have everyone co-ordinated. Kiwi’s are notorious at avoided self praise and attention, especially at award type events. Most people will try and minimise any attention in the limelight. Walking up on stage in front of a large crowd, is up their with public speaking for many. But if not managed, the ‘grip n grin’ presentation you need recorded, could well be at the wrong spot, or appear rushed. Or worse, end up as an awkward handshake or without alternatives t0 a single shot plagued by a blink.
Sharing a well developed runsheet with your photographer is critical. Not only do they know what is happening, but they can think ahead to be in place as needed. This will save un-necessary movement, and subsequently minimise distractions for guests and presenters alike. Also establishing the best spot ahead of time is always an advantage. It can also mean your photographer knows when they might be able to grab a moment for a ‘comfort stop’ and the likes, and not miss crucial content.
Award recipient on stage, Selwyn District Council Awards, Rolleston.
By following these tips, you’ll be well on your way to finding  your ideal event photographer to capture your special day. Remember, a good photographer is an investment in your memories, and reflects your organisation. So it is our advice to take the time to choose wisely.
Of course here at Photoshots we are confident with our own advice, and would love to work with you as experts in event photography.
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