What Does a Professional Event Photographer Bring to the Table?
NOVEMBER 11, 2023
Written by a human.
Why I Added Event Photography to my Headshot Business
Event photography was a natural fit for my company, which also specializes in headshot photography. This is because I have a strong appreciation and a natural affinity for photography that helps people and businesses brand themselves. The word branding gets bandied about a lot these days, to the point where it is sort of taken for granted. People hear the word branding so much these days that they no longer really consider what it means for them.
So, to understand what a professional event photographer brings to the table, it is a good idea to lay a bit of groundwork and help you understand what is meant by branding as it pertains to event photography.
What is Branding as it Pertains to Event Photography?
Experts will tell you that branding is about communicating your core values. I find that most businesses have not spent a lot of time trying to figure out what those core values are at a deep level. In the case of event photography branding is about demonstrating visually how you feel about the things that are important to your target audience.
For me, event photography is about communicating photographically to your target audience (usually potential clients, but not always) what it is like to work with you, collaborate with you, be supported by you and be served by you. But how does good event photography do that?
How Does Effective Event Photogrpahy Actually Work?
Event photography (at least the way I approach it) should visually capture particular stories, such as:
- The attitude your leadership displays when working with employees.
- The enthusiasm with which your employees interact with potential clients.
- The way your support staff goes above and beyond when your clients need help.
- The effort and ingenuity your engineers leverage in creating new products and improving existing ones.
- How your company positively impacts the local community.
- Etc . . .
If potential employees, clients, partners or collaborators can look at your event photography images and imagine themselves in the roles being displayed in the images, an affinity for your organization begins to grow. If the viewers get “a good vibe,” you’re closer to bringing those people into league with your organization.
But the truth is, people will not spend to thoroughly dissect the event photography images you put on your website and other business collateral. They may just glance at it or let their eyes hover over the image for a second or two at best. So, how is that useful in the slightest?
Most types of branding photography (whether headshot photography, event photography or just general around-the-office business shots) are not consumed consciously. They are taken in subconsciously, and very very quickly.
Subconsciously, the human brain is hardwired to rapidly notice the expressions on faces, body language, and background elements of a scene — whether in real life or in a picture. This is actually a survival mechanism for humans (and probably for most other animals too). It is the mechanism by which we get gut feelings about the safety (or lack thereof) of people, places and situations. It is the tone and feeling of branding images that matter most. The job of an event photographer is to capture images that speak to people at that subconscious level.
What Does a Professional Event Photographer Do that an Amateur Does Not?
There is a lot of do-it-yourself event photography out there. The fact is, it’s cheaper to snap some shots with your cell phone than spend the money on an event photographer. Or maybe you can get that employee with the nice camera to grab some shots. After all, with a camera like that, the shots are sure to be great!
However, the professional event photographer goes about the work quite a bit differently than the cell-phone wielding business owner or the cool-camera employee.
Here is the difference. A professional event photographer:
- Notices authentic scenes and interactions that display the above aforementioned attributes. While sometimes staged scenes and interactions can look very nice, I’m a firm believer that you cannot easily fool the human subconscious with inauthenticity. The subconscious knows.
- Captures key scenes and interactions. Now that may sound like a no-brainer. However, it takes a lot of skill with your equipment (and great timing) to actually accomplish this. It requires a great amount of readiness-for-action. I recently did an event shoot where I crept around the event quietly for eleven hours looking for great photographic opportunities, staying vigilant throughout -- no easy task.
- Brings the right equipment to the job and is good at using it. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the power of the modern cell phone camera. However, it has limitations in its ability to: 1) capture clear, zoomed in images; 2) take quality images in low-light conditions; and 3) capture shots of moving subjects. And all these are the norm for most events I’ve shot. For these reasons, I have only seen mediocre images of events taken with cell phones. And if mediocrity isn’t one of your core values, I’d consider hiring an professional event photographer.
The professional event photographer comes with the right equipment (and the ability to leverage it), the awareness and timing to navigate a complex events and capture the meaningful and useful images as they occur. The right images will display authentic interactions with people (and activities) that communicate to potential members of your organization what it is like to be a part of what you do.
If you have questions about event photography and how it can help your organization, I’d be happy to chat with you about it. Just fill out the contact form on my website or send an email to [email protected].