Event planners typically start the search for a photographer to cover their meeting or event by delegating an assistant to call around and check prices. However, this may not be the best way to choose a photographer, or even the best way to get the best deal, says Charlene Martin, director of marketing and sales for Edward Fox Photography in Chicago.
"Often when I get the first phone call, the client doesn't know what they are looking for- they are focused on price," Martin says. Price and staying within your organization's budget are important, but choosing the cheapest bid for photography may lead to disappointment after the event.
"Look at the studio's reputation," recommends Martin. Her firm handled photography for the Chicago chapter of Meeting Professionals International's most recent holiday party. She shared these secrets to hiring event photographers.
BEFORE YOU CALL, MAKE A LIST.
>> How many hours will you need the photographer on site?
>> What specific parts of the event-awards presentations, speakers, or receptions, for example-will you need photos of?
>> Do you want the photographer to provide prints?
>> If so, what size, and how many?
>> Or do you just want the images on a CD?
If you know the answers to these questions, then a photographer can give you a more accurate estimate of what it will cost to photograph your event.
WHAT KIND OF PHOTOS?
The grip-and-grin (handshake between bigwigs at a podium) is a staple of meeting photography. So is the posed group shot. While these shots may be necessary, you may also want your photographer to "capture the essence of the meeting" in a photojournalistic style, Martin says. To do this, the photographer will work unobtrusively without a flash to get candid photos of participants.
ASK ABOUT TURN-AROUND TIME.
How quickly do you need your photographs and CDs? Some photographers can burn a CD on site following an event. "This allows organizers to project the images as a slideshow at the next day's luncheon," Martin says.
DO YOU WANT PRINTS ON SITE?
Martin says her company can bring in a high-quality printer and have prints available for attendees to pick up at the end of the event. That saves organizers the time and expense of mailing out photos later.
WILL THERE BE CELEBRITIES?
If so, you don't want an inexperienced photographer who will freeze up, or worse, ask for an autograph. "We have a staff of true professionals who are used to dealing with celebrities," Martin says.
DOES THE EVENT HAVE A THEME?
If the event is black tie, Martin says, she sends a photographer in black tie. A recent event had a baseball theme, and the photographer wore a baseball cap and jersey as he snapped photos.
LOOK AT YOUR BUDGET.
Still wondering about cost? Martin says the basic fullday rate for a photographer is $150 an hour, which includes receiving all images on a CD. Prints and other services are extra.
Once you've covered your needs for photographing your event, ask the photographer what extras are available. Some of these will save you time and trouble, and are probably well worth the price. Edward Fox can build a password-protected website just for your event, Martin says, so attendees can view all the photos and order prints directly from the photographer, if they wish.