5 Event Photography Tips from an Event Planner

5 Event Photography Tips from an Event Planner

Shooting event photography can be a tricky game – photographers must be able to tell a strong visual narrative and get the shots that the client requests, while still adding their personal touch. It’s also important to be known by the right people, as the market continues to be driven by word-of-mouth.

To get more insight into the world of event photography, we spoke with Jeremy Norman, Creative Director at Congruent Creative Workshop (CCW), an event design and production firm based in New York City. Jeremy has been working in New York for eight years and has helped assemble a range of events from social to corporate galas to non-profit events. CCW’s very long and varied client list includes the New York City Ballet, JP Morgan Chase, The Whitney Museum of Art, and Virgin Records.

“We like to create stories and narratives in events,” says Jeremy. “Whether it be a social or corporate branded event. Even the entrance to the party should evoke a mood, a personality, or a branded message that the client is trying to convey.” And that most certainly applies to the photographers Jeremy hires to cover his events.

Because CCW has a focus on a narrative thread – which needs to apply to every aspect of production – it’s important for photographers to understand and work with the firm’s practices. Jeremy shared his five event photography tips on how photographers can promote their work to him and the general needs he sees in today’s event photography market.

1. Different firms have different aesthetic specialties.

If you’re a photographer trying to partner with an event planning company, consider whether your style and approach will mesh. “At CCW, we want photographers to capture candid, or certainly natural photographs that convey a mood. Long gone are the days when you have people line up in front of the church, or those other really orchestrated shots. I don’t know of anybody who does that anymore. People seem much more attracted to natural, in the moment, narrative.”

Portland, Oregon photographer Craig Mitchelldyer captures a candid moment at his client's wedding.

2. Learn to work with a firm and take direction.

“We’re very big on creating moments in the events – different opportunities for exciting photographs. Because if you’re going to spend one, two, three hundred thousand on an event you definitely want to have memories that are well shot and well photographed. That’s why we often make suggestions to our photographers before the event. We don’t spend hours and hours, but we certainly do offer our advice and want to find photographers who are amenable to collaboration.”

3. To promote your work, create well-curated online galleries.

“If you have a nice online portfolio, with high quality, creative and well-curated photographs then we would be much more inclined to bring you onto a project,” he says. Not only does this get you the job, but it could help the firm bring in new clients, too, which means more business for everyone. “Good photographs are a huge selling point. A lot of clients can’t envision the event, even if you use very descriptive language. When we have photographs, they can evoke a mood and can convince a potential client to come on board with us.”

Freelance photographer Michael Seto caught this beautiful moment at New York City's Summer Stage concert series.

4. Build and work off of your people skills.

Jeremy knows that if a photographer isn’t working well with a crowd, he’ll hear about it from clients. Word of mouth is still a huge source of promotion. “I find that most of the time you get business in this industry it’s because people attend an event, like it, and ask who did it. It’s very much a referral-based industry.”

5. Establish partners outside the industry.

When it comes to marketing tactics, Jeremy suggests partnering with local vendors who also specialize in mood catering or branded events. For example, if an event requires costumed wait staff or a performance requires actors with theatrical makeup, then a photographer who works with local costume designers and makeup artists will be an easy sell for the planner building a crew in the area. Jeremy says, “partnering with makeup artists seems highly effective because makeup, and the way photographs look, go hand in hand.”

These 5 event photography tips are just a few of the insights included in our free guide, Growing Your Event Photography Business. You’ll also hear from FOOD & WINE‘s Marketing Art Director, who hires event photographers for the magazine’s gatherings throughout the year, five successful event photographers, and get concrete tips like “8 Ways To Make A Crowd Love You.”

Check out what we found on how mastering storytelling is key to repeat clients, why pursuing a niche can lead to a thriving business, and more in Growing Your Event Photography Business.

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There are 18 comments for this article
  1. Andy at 4:04 pm

    I find my clients still want some of the line up in front of the church shots to make sure they get all of the wedding party. We do the narrative, but still have to shoot some old-school lineups to please the client.

  2. Craig at 4:25 pm

    Yeah. As far as weddings go you better do the posed photos with everyone lined up somehow. The photographers that don’t do them at all are the ones that parents etc. are pissed at after they see the photos. 10 yrs from now the posed photos are the ones people care about. I don’t know anyone that actually does not do them. Not saying you have to spend a whole lot of time doing them but they are totally necessary.

  3. Canberra wedding photographers at 6:11 am

    The most important part of the event is what is happening on stage. After all, it’s where everybody is looking when something is happening. The lighting is usually better on stage and you can photograph people and performances using available light. You will however battle with different coloured lights when performances are going on.

    If light is limited, try and stand under the main lights that are pointing at the stage. This will hopefully give you enough light to shoot without a flash. But should the need arise and you need the flash try not to be annoying and flash it every few seconds.
    Tip: A combination of wide angled and close up shots will provide you with better coverage of the event.

  4. Kevin at 8:56 pm

    Take a business book and insert “Photographer” where appropriate.

    Could these blogs or the impending “webinar” have more real life content that pertains to the part where we’re photographers? How about detailed behind the scenes of managing such shoots, bad experiences to avoid, liability insurance needs should you “ruin my once in a lifetime wedding”, etc… I want the “real” of being a photographer otherwise it just seems that pulling any book of the shelf and rehashing it with video is now the cliff notes of the internet known as the Webinar.

  5. Mario at 4:31 pm

    Shooting news for a local TV station in Miami have led my style to photojurnalistc when I started wedding photography (and I love it) but in my opinion the formals are a must in many cases, so I had to learn to help clients just a little how to stand, only if they request it.
    Thanks for the post 😉

  6. Dana Caffrey at 8:18 pm

    This is a well-informative blog. Thanks for taking the time to share yor expertise. My friends and I are planning to put up an event planning business. This will definitely helps up start our business.

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  10. Jorge Villalba at 6:24 pm

    I was trying to think in order to add a few more tips here, but I guess that my neurons are just a bit tired right now. Anyway I think that your 5 tips are capital for an Event Photographer nowadays.

  11. Pingback: Event Photography: Get the most out of it! - Focusing on photography
  12. Damain Smith at 3:30 am

    Awesome tips here mate. Event photography plays very important role in a photography business. Working as a professional party and Event Videography Sunshine Coast , i find it extremely important to stay on the top of the industry price and budgeting when it comes to quoting to your clients. Video footage of an event, conference or festival is a fantastic way to build awareness and promote future events, as well as gain sponsorship. Thanks again, good stuff!

  13. Audrey Maria at 7:26 am

    Useful ideas! I loved that content and learnt a lot from it. Being in event planning industry, I know value of this content. As we all know that Event Photographers capture special moments at weddings, anniversaries, parties, and shows. Common duties listed on an Event Photographer resume sample are discussing requirements with clients, taking photographs during festivities, composing shots, editing photos after the event, and delivering the final product. This guide will help them grow.

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