Get Paid for Pics: 10 Tips for Your First Event Photography Gig

event photography

Considering event photography?

Did you know that the average photographer only makes $20.17 per hour? That an annual wage of $41,940 per year, which isn’t much in today’s economy.

If you strive to make more than that, you’ve got to outperform your competition. How? It’s simple.

You’ve got to take better photos than your competition. You need to connect better with your customers. You must also develop a better portfolio.

Marketing is another must. If you run your own studio, you need to raise your prices. Find your resolve and believe in your work. Self-confidence is the key.

But what if you don’t have that yet? What if you don’t have any of it? This is your first-time gig.

Don’t worry; we’ve got your back. Below you’ll find ten expert tips that’ll ensure your first event is a resounding hit. Read on to learn more.

1. Clients Want What?

To deliver on your promise, you must first understand the scope of the project. What does your client want? Ask them outright and keep notes.

When you finish, parrot back to them what you heard. Ask for clarification on any points you didn’t understand. If, later, you discover you need more information, go back and ask again.

If you’re uncomfortable with customer service, the U.S. Small Business Administration offers free classes. They teach 63 free courses geared toward small business owners just like you.

Your conversation might look something like this:

Let me see if I understand you correctly. You’d like a photographer to shoot your wedding on July 24, 2022. You plan to use the photos in a scrapbook and two portraits. You’d like the photographer to also perform the touchups on the photos, all for the lump sum of $1,200. Is that correct?

Remember, this is your business. Never feel shy about speaking to your customers, especially when you need to get all the facts.

2. Ask for Samples

Whenever you head into a new job, ask for samples of photo styles that your client likes. Otherwise, you run the risk of shooting gorgeous head-shot only to find out they wanted group photos. Look for indicators which tell you what your client actually wants vs. what they say they want.

Remember, it’s rare that clients know anything about photography. That’s why they hired you.

When you meet to pick up samples, ask them to bring your deposit. 30% to 50% is the industry standard. Also, bring along your contract for them to sign.

3. Location, Location, Location

Always stake out the location where the event will be held before the day of the shoot. If you want to break away from the pack, pro event photography requires greater dedication. Unfortunately, that often translates to more legwork.

Visit the site. Consider the angles for each critical segment.

Where will the bride, or speaker, or birthday boy stand? What time of day will it be? Will I need flash or can I rely on natural lighting?

As you go through each sequence, take notes. Use them as references during the event. It’ll sail by faster than you can imagine.

4. Know the Key Players

The event coordinator(s) should be on speed dial. They organize everything from the schedule to the parking. Keep an open line of communication with them before, during, and after the event.

Yes, we said after. If you want more business, buddy up with professionals in symbiotic industries. You can help promote one another and pass on job opportunities.

Know the name and face of every person you need to shoot that day. We mean the key players. Here’s an example list for shooting a wedding:

  • Bride
  • Groom
  • Maid of Honor
  • Best Man
  • Parents of Bride
  • Parents of Groom

You get the idea. Every event contains persons essential to your jobs success. Know their names, faces, and phone numbers.

5. Recognize Your Limits

What goals did your client set for your shoot? Can you reach those goals yourself? Is it going to be a stretch?

If you think it’s going to be a stretch, but you haven’t been in the industry long, hire experienced help. When you’re starting out, it’s better to build your portfolio than shoot for a big payday. Hire someone reliable.

Then, you’ll know you can deliver on your promise and use that event as an example of your work for future clients.

6. Use Creative Angles

The day of the big event, check everything twice. Then head to the event an hour early. Remember, you can’t reschedule a big event, and everyone’s counting on your attendance.

You’ve already mapped out angles for each critical segment, but what about the other shots? Now it’s time to have some fun and get creative with your composition. Use interesting angles and perspectives to bring utilitarian shots to life.

7. Get Goofy

Whether you’re shooting a raucous bar mitzvah or a stogy award ceremony, tell your headshot subjects to act silly. It’s human nature. Too often novice photographers get lost in things like shutter speed, saturation, depth of field.

That isn’t to say those elements are unimportant. But too often, the photographer forgets about the human element. The emotional element.

If you need a good example, look at They do a beautiful job of playing it up with their subjects.

8. Go Natural

The camera flash makes images inherently feel staged. If you want more photos that give a sense of emersion to the viewer, use natural light.

Get a feel for the location. Where will the light fall? Will the light change throughout the event? Pick your shots accordingly.

If you do need flash, have your subjects turn slightly to the side. It’ll reduce red-eye effects.

9. Leave Last

No, you don’t need to be the one to lock up. Just make sure you stay until the end when all the attendees have already headed out the door. It makes for a long day, but it also shows you’re a professional who prides herself on her work ethic.

It’s one of the many things that sets amateur event and pro event photography apart.

10. Reconnect in Person

After you perform your post-production photo voodoo, schedule a meeting with your client to display your work in person. It’s a sign of professionalism, and it builds a better relationship with your client. If you end on a good note, they’ll be more likely to recommend you to a friend.

After Your Event Photography

You’re done with your event photography, so what do you do now? First, take a day to decompress. After that, take inventory to make sure you didn’t miss anything when you left the event.

Then assess your work.

What could you have done better? What unexpected obstacles did you run into? What can you do to prepare if you should see them again?

Lastly, pat yourself on the back. You just pulled off your first photoshoot at an event. Congratulations.

If you found this information helpful, take five minutes to browse our library of other fantastic articles.

So long and good luck!

Published by

Jonathan Mookes

Matt is a long-time graphics and design professional, his current research is 3D imaging and video development using bleeding edge technology!

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