An extensive guide to corporate event photography

photography prices for events

Corporate event photography is a very specific niche of photography. Which has a lot of work opportunities for beginners and advanced photographers? So let’s get into the world of corporate events photography.

I’ve been doing corporate (event) photography for over three years now. When I started out studying photography, it was a niche that I never thought of. Let alone thought of as my core business.

Now, here we are. Doing corporate photography as a day job and absolutely loving it! Though, there is a lot to learn and a lot to know. Let’s dive in!

What is event photography

A basic question, but let’s start with that. For a lot of people, it’s concert photography, but it’s so much more than that.

In general, event photography is photographing the guests and occurrences of an event. This means at a party, wedding, reception, or even a funeral.

Of course, there are a lot of types of events. I tend to focus on corporate events like seminars, congresses, launches, and openings.

But you can also think about weddings, birthday parties, bar mitzvahs, and so many more.

The best gear for event photography

I always think it’s a difficult question to answer. ‘The best gear’. Even though I am a smartphone photography advocate, it’s best to invest in a proper camera body and lenses.

The camera for event photography

As a body, it’s best to use a camera that can manage in low light situations and has plenty of pixels. I use the Nikon D850 which I can highly recommend.

Preferably the camera you choose has two card slots so you can either use the overflow or the back-up functionality of those.

A second body never hurts for either a different type of lens or as a back-up in case yours fails.

The lenses for event photography

lenses for corporate event photography

It’s best to have a wide range of lenses with a low f-number possibility. My current kit for example:

A 16 to 35mm f4 lens for wider angles

A 50mm f1.8 lens for candid shots

A 70-200mm f2.8 lens for the public speakers and zoom shots

And a 60mm f2.8 macro lens for close-ups and details

You can see that I basically have the entire range between 16 to 200mm covered. Try to at least have the 35-135mm range. This was you can make a nice combination of wide and close-up shots.

The macro is a nice-to-have in my opinion. It’s only useful if your clients ask for a lot of detail shots. And usually, you can do them with non-macro lenses too.

lenses for event photography

I am looking to limit my amount of lenses to a 24-70mm f2.8 and a 70-200mm f2.8. This makes sure I have enough room to zoom (hey that rhymes!).

Though, I know photographers that do everything with only a 50mm. It is possible, but I can recommend having some type of range available.

Flashes for event photography

I hate flashes. I really do. And I do 90% of my shoots without using mine. Though for that 10% of events, you are really happy you have at least one with you.

I general, I like to stay away from flashes. As they can be obnoxious to the guests of the event. It also spoils those candid shots of people.

Hate them or love them, investing in one can you really help you get a shoot done. And since they are fairly affordable, you will earn them back quickly.

Batteries and memory cards

memory cards for event photography

Get a lot of them. Some seasons it might get really busy. And you can’t speed up the time it takes for a battery to fully charge. So having plenty of spares helps you a lot.

Usually, one battery is enough to get through a half-day of shooting. Though, that really depends on how heavy you are spraying. 

Memory cards too are something you should not cheap out on. Both in quality as in quantity. Remember, your expensive camera is cool and all, but it needs a good card to save those awesome pictures.

Get a system to organize your cards so you know which ones are empty and full at a glance.

Settings for event photography

overview shots in corporate event photography

This one is dependant on yourself. So I can only tell you how I shoot. There is not really a good or bad way to do it. It’s just a matter of thinking about how you are doing the shoot and why you are doing it that way.

For my Nikon D850, I like to shoot with:

  1. Burst mode: because of people moving around. Get a couple of shots so you have options afterward to pick the best one. Don’t go wild though, 3 or 4 is already plenty!
  2. Continuous autofocus: so all my shots are sharp I rarely miss one.
  3. RAW: This gives you a lot of options while editing the photos afterward.
  4. Aperture priority: I like to be in control op my depth of field when going from candid shots to posed group shots and back. The shutter speed is fairly unimportant to me.
  5. Shutter speed: Though keeping an eye on shutter speed is important. Try to keep it above the length of your lense. So a 200mm asks for a 1/200s shutter speed. I like to even double it, just to be sure everything is sharp.
  6. ISO: In general I like to keep my ISO low to reduce noise. Unfortunately at events, you don’t have that luxury. I feel okay going up to ISO 6400. But anything above that requires a flash in my opinion.

Questions to ask your client

Having a conversation with your client in advance of the event is pretty essential. In-person, calling, or even just emailing. How you do it is not important, as long as you do it!

A couple of questions you need to have answered by your client:

  1. What type of event is it?
  2. What are the type of shots you are looking for?
  3. What are the key moments for you?
  4. Could you deliver me the full planning of the event?
  5. When do you want the photos delivered?
  6. Are there any VIPs you especially want photos of?
  7. Contact information of important people at the event
  8. Location (with Google Maps link) of the event

Create a shotlist for the event

The crowd in photography
  1. Detail shots
    1. Any sponsored banners
    2. Giftbags and other goodies
    3. Nametags
    4. The buffet or food
  2. The event venue
    1. The exterior
    2. The interior while it’s still empty
    3. The interior with people
  3. The attendees
    1. Candid interactions
    2. People checking in at the frontdesk/guestlist
    3. People interacting with sponsored materials
    4. People exchanging business cards
    5. Any side events happening
    6. VIPs, sponsors, speakers, …
  4. Keynote speakers
    1. On stage in the context
    2. On stage close-up
    3. People applauding
    4. Any crowd interaction that might happen

Not everything on this list will happen on all events, so adjust to your situation. It’s also best to stay flexible and open to change. Schedules can change while the event is happening and extra people to photograph might join (or leave).

What to deliver in your event photography

orsi in melle, front event location

First of all, always make sure to fulfill your promises to your client. That’s the base of everything. But what can you promise?

You can promise a certain amount of shots you will deliver. For example 30-40 photos per hour. Though in my opinion, this depends on the type of occasion and how the schedule is set up. 

Don’t give your client all the photos. They want the good ones. It is your job to select and edit the right photos for the clients. They don’t want to see the bad ones.

Another thing that is easy to do as an extra for your client is giving the photos in different resolutions. I am not just talking about full-res en web-optimized shots. I am talking about making crops for Instagram too, for example.

Price for event photography

The price is probably one of those things you would like to discuss in advance. Though it depends on what you think you are worth. And even more importantly, what the client thinks you are worth.

Usually, the prices for event photography range from 100 euro’s to 300 euro’s per hour at the event. Be aware of the “at the event”. One hour of shooting also requires an hour of selecting and shooting.

Make sure to include that time in your price too. 

Factors that might bump up the prices are things like second shooters, extra material you might need for that specific event, photo booths, …

Event photography contract

photography of guided tour

You might want to consider having a contract for each shoot you do. Of course, you don’t have to make a new one every time.

I had a lawyer make me a template with my specific needs. I can still edit and add stuff, but it’s a good basis that works for 90% of my clients.

Consider hiring a lawyer for this too. They have the experience of creating these documents and will make sure everything has a legal basis.

What you might want to include:

  1. Timings of delivery and the event
  2. Time on site and for editing
  3. Deliverables (give a range, for example: 40-50 photos)
  4. Deposits/cancellation fees
  5. The ownership over the photos
  6. The allowed use of the photos
  7. So many more things, discuss these with your lawyer.

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