Special events, such as weddings, birthdays, and graduation ceremonies, are rare (and sometimes once-in-a-lifetime) celebrations. Those present hold those memories dear, and it is for this reason that many are willing to invest in a professional event photographer to commemorate the events.
Helping people capture their most precious moments can be extremely rewarding, which is why event photography is such a popular avenue for creative professionals. In this article, we will take a look at how to become an event photographer, what you can expect from this profession, and what you need to start your freelance event photography career.
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What Does an Event Photographer Do?
Event photographers capture the special, unforgettable moments, so that those present can immortalize those memories for decades after they occur. In this day and age, cameras are extremely accessible, with 86.29% of the global population owning a smartphone with a built-in camera feature. However, this has not negated peoples’ need for a professional photographer, especially when it comes to special events.
In fact, while couples have been hiring fewer wedding vendors overall, statistics show that 94% of them still prioritize hiring a wedding photographer. This may be because, while it is important for people to capture these events, they wish to be as present as possible while they are happening. This is where event photographers come in; these professionals have the equipment, skills, and expertise to commemorate important events so that everyone else can focus on enjoying the moment.
Event photographers capture special moments from all walks of life, but some common events that they may be hired for include:
- Gender Reveals
- Sports Events
- Award Ceremonies
How to Become An Event Photographer
Event photographers are highly sought-after; perhaps some of the most commonly requested photographers in this day and age. With that being said, it is not easy to become an event photographer, but thankfully, nor is it impossible.
Below, we have compiled a guide to becoming an event photographer, as well as the necessary skills, qualifications, and equipment needed to thrive in this career path.
72% of photographers in the US have completed either a Bachelor’s or Associate’s degree, with just 18% with only a high school diploma. The most common degree choices for photographers are Bachelor of Photography or Bachelor of Fine Arts. Degrees are not vital to start a career in photography, but they can be very advantageous. Other options for a further education include diplomas and courses in photography or even apprenticeships or workshops.
Event photographers should have experience and knowledge of camera equipment and editing software, and should have at least a basic understanding of composition and lighting. It can be extremely advantageous to compile a portfolio of your past work, preferably as an event photographer.
If you’re just starting out and need experience, you can build your portfolio by offering your services free of charge, or by asking family and friends to pose for photos. You can also contact more experienced event photographers to ask if you can assist them in order to gain practical experience and learn from those in the field.
Building an Online Presence
In today’s digital age, it is important for professionals to build an online presence for themselves and their business. This includes creating a business website, setting up social media profiles, and even signing up to freelance job sites. This can help you to build trust and credibility for your business, reach a wider audience, and network with others in your field.
Event photographers will need high-quality and premium camera equipment in order to be successful in the niche. Below are our recommendations, but you should base your choices on your own preferences and budget.
Camera: A full-frame DSLR or mirrorless camera is usually the preferred choice for event photography. Models like the Canon 5D Mark IV, Nikon D850, or Sony A7 III are popular for their high resolution, good low-light performance, and fast autofocus.
Lenses: A variety of lenses can be useful in event photography, but there are a few that are particularly helpful:
- Wide-angle lens: A lens in the range of 24-70mm is versatile and can capture wide shots of the event or group photos.
- Telephoto lens: A lens in the range of 70-200mm can capture details from a distance and is especially useful for events where you can’t get close to the action.
- Fast prime lens: A lens with a wide maximum aperture (like f/1.4 or f/1.8) is useful for low-light situations and can help create a shallow depth-of-field look.
Flash: A good flash unit is crucial for many events. A speedlight that can be mounted on the camera’s hot shoe can help illuminate subjects in low-light situations. A model with a swivel head can be useful for bouncing light off of walls or ceilings to create a more natural look.
Tripod/Monopod: While not always necessary, having a tripod or monopod can help with stability, especially if you’re using a heavy lens or shooting for extended periods.
Memory Cards: Always carry extra memory cards. Cards with fast write speeds can help when shooting in burst mode.
Batteries: Always carry extra batteries. Event photography often involves long hours, and you don’t want to run out of power in the middle of an event.
In addition to camera equipment, you should preferably have access to your own vehicle, as you may be hired for events that are further away. Having a car will also help you travel with and store your camera equipment safely.
Networking and Marketing
Make the effort to build a network of contacts in the event industry, such as wedding planners, event coordinators, or venue managers. Attend industry events, join professional associations, and leverage social media platforms to market your services. Invest in paid advertising or other marketing techniques to reach a wider audience if you can.
Pricing Your Services
Determine your pricing structure based on factors such as the duration of each event, the number of images delivered, and any additional services offered, such as prints, editing, or albums. Research the market rates in your area and consider your skill level, experience, and the quality of your work when setting your prices.
Contracts and Agreements
Protect yourself and your clients by using contracts and agreements that outline the scope of work, deliverables, payment terms, and usage rights. Clearly communicate your policies on cancellations, rescheduling, and image delivery to avoid any misunderstandings or disputes.
Professionalism and Customer Service
Maintain a high level of professionalism and provide excellent customer service throughout the entire process. Respond promptly to inquiries, be punctual, dress appropriately, and interact respectfully with clients and guests. Deliver images within the agreed-upon timeframe and provide clear communication regarding the post-production process.
Stay updated with the latest trends, techniques, and equipment in the event photography space. Regularly attend workshops, conferences, or online courses to expand your knowledge and improve your skills. Constantly strive to enhance your craft and offer unique perspectives to stand out in a competitive market.
Client Referrals and Reviews
Encourage satisfied clients to provide testimonials and reviews of your services. Word-of-mouth recommendations are valuable in the event industry. Provide a positive experience for your clients, and they are more likely to refer you to their friends, family, or colleagues who may be in need of event photography services.
Becoming a freelance event photographer can be a fulfilling and lucrative career choice for those passionate about capturing special moments. While the demand for professional event photographers remains high, it requires dedication, skill, and the right equipment to succeed in this competitive field.
By following this comprehensive guide and continually improving their skills, aspiring event photographers can expect a rewarding career capturing timeless memories and making a lasting impact on their clients’ lives.