Tonight’s the night! It’s the launch of your brand new business. You are on pins and needles with excitement. All the RSVPs have been received, and everything has been planned perfectly. You’ve left no detail forgotten, except one. You haven’t hired a photographer.
“But photographers are expensive, and there’s no way I’ll find one on such short notice.”
“Oh, that’s ok.” you think to yourself. “I can take pictures or someone else will bring their camera.”
The event occurs and goes off without a hitch! Everything goes perfectly and guests are raving about your event. There’s only one problem. You were too busy being a gracious host that you didn’t have time to take pictures. You scavenge around on Facebook to see if any one else took pictures, but only come up with a handful of smartphone images that do not truly represent how wonderful your event really was.
Your one regret: you wish you would’ve hired/budgeted for a professional photographer.
Event Photography is just as important to your business as a family photograph is to your family. Documenting your entrepreneurial milestones by using a professional photographer shows your clients and key partners that you believe in the success of your business. The attendees of your event want to be included in that documentation and will search for their picture on your social media outlets. They will then share those images with their friends and family and thus leading to more free advertising for you! Everyone wants to be recognized, and let’s face it, you are darn proud of your business!
If you are thinking about hosting an event, whether it be the launch of a business, a product introduction or an anniversary celebration, you will want to include a photographer in your budget and planning. When you are seeking out names of photographers, ask your business colleagues for some referrals. Choose 3-4 photographers and begin researching them. If you don’t have time to do the research, delegate it to someone on your team. Here are five questions to help you when researching and interviewing photographers.
1. Has the photographer done event photography before?
You will want to ask the photographer for some samples of his/her work. While a photographer may be great at doing newborn photography, for example, they may not understand what’s involved in event photography. Since many events are held in the evening, the photographer must be proficient with operating an external flash or some type of off-camera lighting, and this will show through in his/her images. A photographer that has experience in photographing events understands that he or she will be constantly on their feet for a number of hours. They also have an intuitive way of capturing the joy of the event through people’s smiles, laughter and activity.
2. How does the photographer’s portfolio look?
When viewing a photographer’s portfolio, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do they have a website, or only a Facebook page?
- Are the images properly exposed (too bright or too dark)?
- Do people’s skin tones look natural, or are they muddy looking?
- Do the images seem overly orange or overly blue (incorrect colour correction)?
- Are the images composed nicely, or are hands and feet chopped off, or bodyless heads on the horizon of the image?
- Are the pictures straight, or do you feel you need to tilt your head when you look at the images?
- Did the photographer capture the emotion of the event, or do the images seem boring to you?
3. Does the photographer communicate effectively?
In your process of interviewing photographers, it’s important that the photographer respond to your inquiries in a timely manner, but also recognize that they have a life, a family and a business to attend to. It’s not unreasonable for a photographer to respond to you within 24 hours of you making contact with them, however, waiting 4-5 days for a response may be a bit long.
When you decide to contact a photographer, check to see if they have a contact form on their website. This type of form usually feeds into their management system and overall, makes it easier for them to respond to you. Request a telephone meeting to be scheduled within the next day or two. Speaking to someone over the phone can give you a lot of insight into the person with which you are speaking.
Here are some sample questions you can ask during a telephone interview (and not necessarily in this order):
- How long have you been in business, and are you registered with the province?
- Do you have liability insurance?
- Is the photographer a member of a professional organization (ie the Professional Photographers of Canada)?
- How many events have you photographed in the last year?
- Who are some of your clients?
- What is your backup plan should you not be available on the day of the event?
- What is your policy regarding image use?
- What is your turnaround time for processing and delivery the images.
Once you’ve had a chance to have a friendly conversation with the photographer, it’s time to talk about rates.
4. How much does the photographer charge?
Some photographers will have a flat rate, some an hourly rate, and other photographers will ask you what your budget is for the event. It is not unreasonable for a photographer to charge between $150 – $300 per hour to photograph your event. Most photographers will have a minimum charge of $xxx amount that has to be satisfied before they will book your event.
Event photographers will usually include digital images in their fee. They understand that the images will be used for social media and website promo materials. They may require that their logo be on the image somewhere, or, that credit be given, usually in the form of a link back to the photographer’s website.
A word about bartering: If you wish to barter with a photographer (or any vendor, for that matter), approach the subject carefully and only if you get a feeling that it is something the photographer is open to discussing. Bartering for services can be a win/win situation for both the photographer and the client. Ask the photographer what his/her rates are and offer something of equal value. Please keep in mind that working for “exposure” is not a fair trade.
5. Do I own the copyright to the images?
You actually don’t have to ask the photographer this question, because I’m going to tell you the answer. The answer is no, you do not own the copyright to the images irregardless if you are paying the photographer or have arranged a barter. Under section 13(1) of the Canadian Copyright Act (R.S.C., 1985, c. C-42), the photographer owns the copyright to the image he or she created. The photographer can, and should, issue you a usage license that specifically states what you can and cannot do with the images you were provided. For example, you can use the images on your website, but you cannot resell or reproduce the image for profit.
With all this newly acquired information, you can now sit down and decide which photographer will best suit your event needs and budget. Once you’ve chosen a photographer with which you wish to work, contact him or her right away because dates do fill up quickly. There is usually a contract to be signed and a deposit to be paid. Make sure you read the contract carefully and clarify any questions before signing. Also, ask for an invoice from the photographer. After all, this is a business expense for you!
Don’t let your next milestone go unnoticed! Hire a professional photographer to document your success.