How you should brief your event photographer
You’ve followed my tips on how to choose a great event photographer. Now you need to make sure they give you the shots you need. The best way to ensure this? Give them a detailed brief. I’ve been an event photographer in Brisbane for years. Here are some briefing points that help me deliver great service to my clients.
There are probably some things you’ve thought about like location and timing, but what about branding, turnaround times, company values or location permits? A skilled, well-briefed event photographer can help you navigate all these details, and create images to extend the life of your event long after it’s all wrapped up.
Event Photography Run Sheet
The run sheet is the event photographer’s bible. It’s the who, what, when and where of your event. You want your photographer to know exactly what’s happening when. This is particularly important if you’ve organised a surprise (fireworks, pop-up band, impromptu power ballad by your CEO). You want your photographer ahead of the action so they have time to capture it beautifully. It will also help your photographer identify potential problems. For example, it may not be possible for them to get from one end of a conference venue to the other in the time you have allocated.
Why are you holding the event?
It’s important your photographer knows the purpose of the event and the mood/tone of the event. A staff Christmas party will have a different feel to an Anzac Day memorial, for example.
What images do you need?
Are there any images you must get? The What images are on your ‘must get’ list? Identify when they are likely to come up/can be set up. This covers things like branding, VIPs, and combinations of people to be photographed together (i.e., CEO with individual award winners, the Local Member with a board member, etc).
How will you use the images?
Thinking about how you’ll use images later informs what the photographer captures, and sometimes the gear they use. For example, at large formal dinners and award ceremonies, it’s common to have two photographers; one covering the action, another taking formal portraits of award winners, couples, and teams. You can then print these off as a thank you to guests after the event.
Will you be using images on your website, or in a magazine that requires space for copy? Will they be printed on a billboard? There are stacks of ways to extend the usefulness of your images beyond just a Facebook album. I’ve written in detail here about that here.
Who are the VIPs?
Make sure your event photographer knows who the important people are. Having someone on site to identify them is vital.
Do you have any sponsors or branding? Perhaps you need your VIPs interacting with branding, perhaps it just needs to be in the background of the overall coverage. The photographer will have good advice on where to place smaller items to get the best value from your branding/sponsorship assets.
Are there things you can/can’t show in photographs? For example, is it appropriate your staff be seen with alcohol? Is there an important uniform or PPE protocol? Are there people who cannot be photographed? It’s important your photographer knows what your trying to avoid as much as what you’re trying to capture.
Will there be external media at the event?
If external media is also at the event, will your photographer be competing with them for the shots you need? Or will they have time to set things up after the formalities? Also, do you need to control some of the images captured – for example, is it appropriate for your embattled CEO to be photographed with the roving clown performers present on the day? It’s easy to control the images your photographer releases, but not so easy when it comes to external media. So be sure you think about the image opportunities they might also see.
Names of Guests
Do you want to know the name of every person in every image so you can properly caption images in print/tag them on social media/send them pics afterwards? Photographers have various tricks for managing this easily but they need to know before the shoot.
Release forms & permits
Are you planning to publish images of your guests on social media/your website? Does your organisation require release forms to do this? Does the venue you’re using require a filming or photography permit? It’s worth checking this particularly if it’s a public space you haven’t formally rented.
How long do you need the photographer?
There are two universal rules I’ve learned when photographing events:
- Have the photographer arrive half an hour before guests are due. This leaves time for you to give the photographer an on-site brief. It also gives them time to capture venue setup shots.
- If the event serves alcohol the photographer should stay long enough for people to become relaxed and leave before people get loose
Formal dinner/canape/evening events: usually covered for around 4 hours. End photography as the dancing starts, or by around 10pm
Daytime ceremonial/networking event: usually covered in their entirety as they tend to wrap up within 2 – 3 hours
Full day events (golf days, fundraisers, fun runs, etc): full day coverage. If it’s a large venue like a golf course help the photographer be mobile so they can capture all the different aspects of the event.
What is the dress code for your event, and what should the photographer wear? Will they need protective equipment like steel caps, sunscreen or hearing protection? Or will they need to wear all black to blend in with the stage crew? It’s important you specify what’s expected. After all, they’ll be representing your brand.
Delivery and turnaround
Do you need images immediately, within 8 – 12 hours, first thing the following morning, or within a few days? Discuss this with the photographer, particularly if it’s ‘immediately’, as this will impact how they shoot and the gear they use.
Brief your photographer really well and they’ll reward you with stunning images that meet all your requirements. Read about how to leverage get better value out of your event photography.If you need a hand with your