The big 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 five years now. When I started out studying photography, it was a niche that I had 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.

Types of event photography:

  • Weddings
  • Birthday parties
  • Bar Mitzvahs
  • Corporate party
  • Dinner party
  • Network event
  • Product launch
  • Congress
  • Seminars
  • Shop opening
  • Business conference
  • Conventions

But you can also think about so many more types of events.

Corporate event photography tips

There is nothing more valuable than having experience in shooting corporate event photography tips. Though, for a starter, it can be handy to know some things at first.

After a couple of bookings, you will get the hang and feel for things. 😉

  1. Arrive early and explore the venue. Depending on how big, half an hour or an hour should be plenty.
  2. Make a shot list of what the client wants. Keep it somewhere close to you (or make sure you memorize it properly)
  3. Think on your feet; things will happen all of a sudden and not according to plan. But you and the client will still want some photos.
  4. Dress properly, don’t underdress, but make sure to be comfortable too.
  5. Always be polite to everyone!
  6. If people don’t want to be photographed, respect that. Even if you technically have the right to do so.
  7. Stay out of the spotlight: it’s not about you. Learn how to compose yourself quietly.
  8. Have back-ups; I prefer the dual-card setup for raw + jpg. So that you don’t lose your photos.
  9. Get used to bad lighting and learn how to flash with on-camera lights.
  10. Don’t flash all the time, though, it makes you very noticeable and can make the photos less spontaneous.
  11. Get a fast lens, then get another one. f1.8 should be good, and f1.4 could be better.

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. My Nikon D850 can handle a fairly high ISO setting. But of course other camera’s too.

Look at which one can do higher ISO without getting too much noise.

The best 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 backup functionalities while shooting.

A second body never hurts for either a different type of lens or as a backup in case yours fails. I usually have one with either a tele or wide angle lens and a second one with a 50mm.

The best lenses for 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: the entire room, buffets, and stuff like those

A 50mm f1.8 lens for candid shots: It’s not too far, but still far enough to not disturb the people. While still getting decent close-ups.

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 way, 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 many 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 24-70mm f2.8 and 70-200mm f2.8. This ensures I have enough room to zoom (hey, that rhymes!).

Though, I know corporate event 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.

In 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 charge fully. 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 with your camera. It’s also different if you use two cameras at the same time.

Memory cards are something you should not cheap out on too. Both in quality and 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. I have a wallet to keep them in, and depending if the logo is facing inwards or outwards I know if it’s okay to use the card or not.

Settings for event photography

overview shots in corporate event photography

This one is dependent 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 many options while editing the photos afterward.
  4. Aperture priority: I like to control 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 lens. So a 200mm asks for a 1/200s shutter speed. I even like to double it, just to be sure everything is sharp.
  6. ISO: I generally 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 (depending on the quality of the low light available). But anything above that requires a flash, in my opinion.

Event photography 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 unimportant, 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 they are looking for?
  3. What are the key moments for them?
  4. Could they deliver you the full planning of the event?
  5. When do they want the photos delivered?
  6. Are there any VIPs they especially want photos of?
  7. Contact information of important people at the event
  8. Location (with Google Maps link) of the event
  9. Will there be parking or easy public transport?
  10. Is there food provided for you too?

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 being served
  2. The event venue
    1. The exterior
    2. The interior, while it’s still empty
    3. The interior with people (preferably at a busy moment)
  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 at all events, so adjust to your situation. It’s also best to stay flexible and open to change. Schedules can change during the event, and extra people to photograph might join (or leave).

What to deliver in your event photography

orsi in melle, front event location

First, 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 easy thing to do as an extra for your client is to give 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 euros per hour at the event. Be aware of the “at the event.” One hour of shooting also requires an hour of selecting and editing.

Make sure to include that time in your price too. 

Factors that might bump up the prices include second shooters, extra material you might need for that specific event, and 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.

FAQs about corporate event photography

Event photography costs

For this, you can calculate your hours photographing, editing, traveling to the venue, and communicating with your client. Also, the material you use has to be included in that cost. Any additional costs like hotel, travel, or rentals too.

The best DSLR camera for event photography

There is no one solution for this. The best camera would be one that you know and can trust. It does help if the camera can handle some higher ISO’s without too much noise.

How much do photographers charge for events?

This depends on the type of photographer, their skills, and of course, your event.

How to choose an event photographer?

There’s no templated way to go about this. But you can find some photographers via Google and look at their portfolios. Keep the ones you like and contact them. See if you like the way they respond. It’s all about their work but also their personalities. See if there’s a match for both.

Best flash for event photography?

You can find and experiment with all the flashes available on the market. The best of course is an on-camera flash, as this is the easiest to use on events. I use the Godox v1 with their set of light transformers.

How much should I charge to photograph a corporate event?

You should calculate your costs first. See what material you need, how far and long you need to travel to the venue, and how many hours you will photograph and edit the photos. With all those costs in mind, you can start discussing prices. Ask for a bit more than your costs. How much you can ask will also depend on your client.

How to use flash for event photography?

Everyone has their preferred way to flash. For me, it’s tilted the flash to a 45-degree angle with a Godox diffusion dome and around -1.5 flash compensation. This adds a bit of extra light without the images getting too flat.

What is the best event photography lens?

There’s no one answer, but I suggest that if you could only bring one lens, you should bring the 50mm. This one is flexible to do it all reasonably well.

How to become an event photographer?

Maybe start with photographing local events. Send the organization an email in advance to ask for permission. This is a great way to build up experience and a portfolio. Who knows, the organization might use your photos and promote you. Sometimes working for exposure is fine.

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