Start with Exceptional

For 15+ years, it has been my mission to be the best value decision my clients can make. For me, it starts with exceptional. I have done as much of the heavy lifting as possible, uncovering needs, filling in the blanks, developing image files that are print and web ready, complete with metadata. In addition to handling assignments, I have also sought to help my clients develop their own image banks but taking advantage of opportunities that weren’t on a shot list. In other words, I made every effort to over-deliver.

Going forward, in order to better work within your budgets, I will be tailoring exceptional to meet your specific needs, contracting for the result rather than the effort. Before work begins, we will be on the same page in terms of what you are paying and what you are paying for.

Working Backwards

What is the end result that you are after? Keep in mind, it’s not enough to say what you want; you also need to know why you want it.

There are three primary purposes for event photography:

  1. Documenting the Event
  2. Capturing THE Moments (The Essence of the Event)
  3. The BIG picture


This is rudimentary event coverage. It includes pre-event photos that document the event’s setup – the floor plan, the table centerpieces, the decorated ballroom, the fixtures, the uncut cake, ice sculpture, food and bar, and possibly the event staff. Even though these types of photos typically serve no marketing or editorial purposes, they are extremely useful for planning future events as well as doing the post-mortem. (While these images can be captured by staff on their cellphones, unless those photos are curated off those cellphones, they will only be available until the phone owner moves to another job.)

Once guests arrive, the event coverage of photography starts. These are the “people” shots, usually involving 2-5 in each frame, who are captured either candid or specifically posing for a group photo. Make sure the photographer knows your preference, as well if there are any specific people to follow. If the event includes a program, remember a need for capturing keynote speakers and award-winners at the podium, the grip-and-grin moments, and possibly group photos. There should be a handful of photos of the venue, preferably taken at the peak attendance, to highlight the general interest of the event.

Capturing the Moment (The Essence of the Event)

While just about anyone with the right camera equipment can handle basic documentation photography, only an experienced event photographer consistently delivers images that capture the essence of an event that an organization can use for gifts, marketing, and editorial content. These are the images that tell attendees they are valued, that say, “Thank you for being here and making this event such a fun and wonderful place to be!” Quality photos make the attendees feel special because you thought the event and their attendance was important enough to warrant spending the money to hire a professional. These are also the images that may ignite a streak of envy for those who missed the event, and remind them to mark their calendars for the next one.

A key indicator of quality photography is their ability to impress on the viewer the feeling of the moment. Your event photos could be the opportunity to grab the attention and interest from a new audience. Images that look as if someone simply walked around blindly snapping away are quickly dismissed in the deluge of photos that stream through today’s visual world. Images that capture the interactions, smiles, tears—THE moments—make viewers pause to soak in the 1,000-word essay captured in the frame.

It is unrealistic to expect every image to be a prize-winner; however, when a viewer can relive an event through its imagery, you will know that the essence of your event was captured. It is not accidental when someone feels that the imagery makes a perceived boring business event look fun and interesting. It is because the photographer knew what to look for and then captured it. And that is part of the BIG picture.

The Big Picture

Do not take for granted the opportunity your event represents for your organization. While the event is the primary focus, the photographer could also be looking to add to the necessary profile photos and marketing photos that are always needed. This step goes beyond the documentary nature of event photography and into commercial and editorial photography. You might wind up with some photographs that can serve multiple uses. If there is an opportunity to fill your image bank, it is more likely to happen on purpose with an experienced commercial and event photographer than accidently by someone simply wandering around.

What separates these images from the rest?
Timelessness. It might take 3-5 years before they appear dated.
Flexibility. They can be used in multiple formats and media.
Hidden Gems. Images of individuals can be used for profiles, articles, and/or marketing.
Broad Focus. Different people in different roles will have different requirements and needs. By not constraining a photographer to a narrow focus, more needs throughout the organization may be met.

Getting the most from your investment

First, do not simply “hire a photographer.” Look for a photographer who can deliver documentation, essence, and the BIG picture. Make sure the photographer knows your expectations for the full range and not just a narrow focus. If you have specific requests, make sure they are communicated explicitly in advance (feel free to refer to our Event Photography Planning Guide).

Remember, it cannot always be quantified in terms of an hourly rate. For example, you could pay $25/per hour for a handful of bad images. On the other hand, $200/per hour for a treasure trove of images that can satisfy multiple needs and purposes for a number of years might be a steal. It could be the difference in having a perfect gift photo for an important donor, or not – and how do you value that?

When you have an event, think about all the possibilities it might represent and hire your photographer accordingly. Think beyond the narrow scope of documentation. Think broadly:

  • Who will be attending, and would a printed photo make a nice “thank you”?
  • Is this an annual event that needs collateral for selling and/or growing the event?
  • Beyond a handful of photos for a news release or small online image gallery, are there other uses?
  • Who else, besides you, might be interested in the photos?
  • Would it be helpful to you to offload fulfillment? Or are you equipped to field image and print requests?

The thing to keep in mind is that there are typically no do-overs once an opportunity is missed. When the speaker has left the podium or left the room, when the honorees are mingling or leaving, when the guests are gone, will you have the photos you need?

Quite simply: can you afford the risk of not hiring a professional photographer?

Working Forwards

Event Photography: Logistical Planning

Sometimes event coverage is much more involved than simply showing up with a camera and grabbing a handful of shots…

The following are some of the factors we consider in order to develop realistic estimates. We may not come in with the lowest price, but our clients will tell you that we consistently meet their expectations, both in terms of budgeting and delivering the images they need when they need them.

    • Event Duration: When does it start and end?
    • Type of Event: Give us a description of the event, including how many people will be involved.
    • Quantity of Images: How many are you expecting to receive?
    • Shot List: Do you have one or do you need help developing one?
    • Creative Services/Art Direction: Will someone be guiding the shoot, or will you be relying on us to find/develop/compose images?
    • Number of Photographers Required: Can your needs be met by a single photographer, or will this require multiple photographers?
    • Special Equipment Required: It may be that we must rent additional gear to meet your needs.
    • Lighting Setup Required: Depending on the nature of your shoot, there may be a need for bringing additional professional lighting gear.
    • Any Props, Backdrops, Staging Required: Let us know if we need to bring anything extra.
    • Turnaround Time Required: (When do you need imagery? Same day? Next day? Next week? Next month?
    • Amount of Post-Processing Required: None? Basic? Enhanced?
    • Deliverable File Specs: What type of files do you need? What size(s)?
    • Deliverable Media: Do you need a disk? A flash drive? Or can you accept electronic delivery?
    • FTP or Other Online Delivery Required: Can you download from our FTP site? Or do you have a different preferred delivery option?
    • Onsite Delivery: Do you require onsite delivery?
    • Onsite Printing: Do you need onsite printing?
    • Online Galleries for Print Purchases or Digital Distribution: Can you handle this yourself, or do you need us to do it for you?
    • Planned Image Usages: How do you intend to use the delivered images?
    • Licensing Requirements: What type of licensing do you need?
    • Planned Budget: How much have you budgeted for this shoot?

We can work with most any budget, as long as there’s a clear understanding as to what you need and expect from us.


What is Your Budget?

The cold hard reality is that it comes down to a number and a binary decision. All the color, all the shades of gray are removed. The number is the intersection of what you want and what it cost; the binary is your decision – yes or no.

That number means different things to you and me. On my side, it reflects what it costs me to produce what you want and the profit necessary to justify being in business. On your side, it reflects your budget, what you need produced, and the value you put in my doing the work. It is simply a matter finding an acceptable number.

I have worked diligently over the years to keep my rates fair and reasonable while providing maximum value. I have spent 1000s and 1000s of hours honing expertise and refining processes in order to maintain [need to finish this sentence]. This commitment will not diminish.

However, being under contract with a two-year rate cap has forced me to re-evaluate my business processes. There are some changes and the following will outline how you can get the most out of your investment with me while also maintaining your budget. It is a matter of knowing what you need, what it takes, and who is going to do the work. In the past, I took care of all the work simply as part of the job. Going forward, you will have the ability to decide just how much or how little you need me to do.

Fulfillment Services

I manage an online gallery system that frees my clients from the costs and overhead of fielding requests from event attendees (or others) for copies of image files or prints. I provide the client with an event-specific URL and they can focus on their actual jobs and not have to deal with:

    • Finding images
    • Making prints of various sizes
    • Packaging prints
    • Shipping prints

Clients have two options:
1) A gallery for shareable files that can be downloaded by site visitors
2) An ecommerce-enabled gallery where visitors can purchase prints or digital downloads through the secure online shopping cart system. The client can elect to handle fulfillment (the client will receive email notification with the details of the purchase requests, and they will receive a monthly report and disbursement of funds collected), or they can elect for me to handle everything.

If you have any questions about this, please do not hesitate to reach out to me for more information.