After photographing many events, it occurs to me that some organisers might appreciate a few tips to make sure they have some great images to remember all that hard work they put in.
From the outset, have a clear understanding of what images you want from the event and what you plan to use them for. Do you want general pictures to show the atmosphere of the event or do you need more specific shots of particular people or products.
Check your timetable, the agenda or schedule and spot any likely clashes, you may find it will impossible for the same photographer to be in two places at the same time. Remember the photographer is only human and will need a break occasionally.
Your photographer should be able to offer advice about what works best and make suggestions on how best to achieve the shots you’re after.
Make sure that you will not be restricted in how you use the images shot. The photographer will often retain the copyright but grant you the licence to use the images as you wish.
Some photographers may require you to agree to terms and conditions that only permit you to use the images for a specified time period, they may also insist that they are credited as the author of the images and may even require a link to their website.
Clarify the terms and conditions by which the photographer is working; are you paying for the images or just their time?
Plan how you intend to distribute the images. As they will be digital files, they can be transmitted or uploaded at the touch of a button anywhere in the world. Decide in advance who will have access to the images and ensure that the photographer understands whether they are for public viewing or limited to a controlled distribution circle.
You may wish the images to be seen by as many people as possible, in which case you need your photographer to make sure that the viewing procedure is as simple as possible.
Depending on your agreement with the photographer and assuming there is an online viewing facility, decide in advance if you want the images watermarked or not and if you are happy for them to be downloaded by anyone who views them.
Should you wish to limit the distribution of the images, make sure your photographer is given clear instructions and protects the images against unauthorised access.
Your Images – Use Them
It often amazes me that I can supply an event organiser with a selection of several hundred images and never see them used. They are a valuable marketing tool and are so much better than library images.
Your images should be supplied to you in a form that makes it easy for you to incorporate them into emails and blog posts as well as website images. They should also be of high enough quality (300 dpi) and large enough for print media or large format display prints with a duplicate set of images formatted at 72 dpi and small enough for web use or email.
They are your images, you’ve paid for them so get them out there and use them wherever you can. They may well be worth a thousand words each, so use them to sell future events to potential exhibitors, sponsors, delegates and visitors.
Don’t forget that sponsors will appreciate images that illustrate their contribution to the event, it may well be worth having some prints produced and sending them as a thank you gift. Your photographer should have access to a professional print lab who can produce a, finish and package prints to any size or specification.
Send them to The Media
Newspapers, magazines and trade publications are much more likely to use a press release about your event if there’s a good picture available.
If you’re in touch with the media during the course of the event, your photographer should be able to format any chosen image and transmit it directly to a picture desk within minutes of its capture. A good WiFi connection can help in this respect but the absence of one should not prevent images being transmitted if necessary.
Make them accessible
Everyone loves to check out the pictures of an event they have been part of. Make sure that those who’d like to see the pictures know how to do so. A link in an email, blog or website that takes the viewer directly to an online image gallery will enhance the event’s reputation. The gallery should ideally have a slideshow facility and the option to select images for individual or bulk download.
An added advantage is for the downloads to be available in different sizes. There’s little point in waiting ages for an 8Mb image to download if it’s only wanted as an email image and likewise a 300k thumbnail will be blurred mess if someone tries to blow it up for print use.
Make the Photographer’s Job Easier
If you want some great images to remember your event with, it helps if you make the photographer’s job easier. As mentioned above, a good brief helps but in addition if shots of specific people are required, let them know in advance so the photographer is not left trying to gain access to them.
With conferences in particular, make sure the AV team understand the need for adequate lighting. A video camera requires less lighting than a stills camera and while modern high end professional DSLRs can capture images in almost impossibly dark conditions, the resulting shots will not show the event at its best.
Install a sponsors backdrop
It has become almost commonplace at sports events now that the post event interview is shot in front of a backdrop with all the sponsors logos prominently displayed. It’s worth employing the same practice at Conferences, Awards and Exhibitions, ensuring that the backdrop is located away from the main stage and preferably away from the main flow of traffic. Again good lighting helps and a non-reflective background material greatly enhances the resulting images by avoiding the glare of overhead lights or flashguns. Not only does this keep sponsors happy, speakers, VIPs or award winners can be directed to a clearly designated area.
Use a Professional
Being a good photographer is just the beginning, using a professional photographer with a background in working in the events industry will make the job of the organiser that much easier by managing the whole process of capturing the images without fuss.
A professional photographer should be able to understand your brief and manage the entire photography process including posing individuals and select groups as required.
Images should be available for press distribution whenever necessary and should be available to view online within hours of the event finishing.
Above all a good professional should be unobtrusive and capture your event without becoming part of it.