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Six Tips To Select the Best Photographer for Your Event

I asked David Fox, the go-to event photographer, what advice he would give meeting planners when hiring a photographer. Here are some of his suggestions.

Provide As Much Information about Your Event as Possible

Sometimes planners provide incomplete information about their event, or ask a photographer what their daily rate is before providing any information.  It’s a good idea to share the budget and expectations in any RFP. A professional photographer can generally work with you to get the images you need while keeping within your budget. That said, you also want to avoid the trap of buying based on price alone.

Provide some background information on your program. What kind of event is it?  A meeting, gala, awards ceremony, annual conference?  What industry is your client in?  It helps to see the whole scope of the event, as well as the specific photography needs.  If the event agenda is still a work in process, you can still share the schedule to date.   

Know What Images and Services You Need

Think about what shots you want.  List all the key people (CEO, keynote speaker, award winners) and the program events and locations (opening reception, every session panel, exhibit hall) that you want included.  We’ll start with that shot list and help you identify other potential must-haves.  I’ve helped out planners who forgot to include major donors, VIP’s etc. on their shot list. There’s always a lot to keep track of, let us help!

What is the personality of the group?  Do they prefer formal shots of the incoming and outgoing leadership…or would a spontaneous shot of them sharing a toast capture the moment better for their purposes?  (We suggest asking for both!)

Use the Down Time

There is often billable “down time” in the schedule, so plan to use it to your best advantage.  Ask the photographer to use that time by taking shots of the exhibit area to use in the next year’s materials, or offering to take head shots of the organization leadership and staff for their web site, as well as other services, such as downloading and reviewing photos for immediate needs, or putting together a slide show.

How Do You Want to Receive Your Images?

Think about how you would like to receive your images after the event.  There are several options. 
We can either provide a CD or memory stick of the unedited high-res jpg images on site. This can be useful if immediate PR or Social Media images are needed. Alternatively, we can edit the images after the event, cull through them, organize them, do some basic color/light balancing, and deliver a high-res and low-res set of images that are ready to use for print or web purposes.

Do you want to have still photos from some portions of your program put into a slide show to be shown on the screen in the closing session? 

Would you like to give commemorative prints to your major donors or outgoing leadership?    With advance notice, these can be produced during your event.

Use the Photographer’s Experience

A professional photographer can also help keep your event running on time.  If you are presenting a large number of awards, it takes planning and mutual cooperation to have this go smoothly to capture the shots you need.  I can work with you to determine how to bring award winners to the stage for the presentation shots.  Sometimes something as simple as changing which side of the stage to place the podium can have a positive impact on the flow of the presentation and enable the presenters to smoothly turn the recipients towards the camera. 

I often suggest taking the shots of award winners prior to the award ceremony in a controlled setting.  As long as the award isn’t a surprise this works very well. Alternatively, this can sometimes be staged afterwards.

Contracts and Usage License

A professional photographer will provide a contract, clearly outlining services and fees, as well as terms and conditions, addressing issues such as liability, emergency coverage, ownership and usage of the images, etc. It’s best to be clear about having the rights to use the images. If the images are potentially sensitive in any way, you will want the limitations of the photographer’s usage of the images, if any, clearly spelled out. You should review the contract in detail and ask for any changes that you deem necessary for your satisfaction.


Once you feel that the photographer is a good fit — and will be a good partner for your event — then you are ready to sign them!

Shelley E. Griffin, CMM, is the founder and president of Griffin Conference Group, which provides comprehensive meeting planning services. She is a respected industry leader who has over twenty years of experience.  For more helpful tips see her web site at