Top 10 Tips For Taking Professional Event Photographs and Videos

Are you looking to take your professional photography business to the next level? One way to stand out from the crowd is by specializing in a photography niche. Event photography can be an excellent way to build your reputation as a professional photographer or videographer and quickly increase your income.

For creative professionals who use professional photography or professional videography as a side hustle, specializing in event photos has an additional benefit. Most big events, like weddings and parties, happen on the weekends. That means you can still work your traditional day job Monday through Friday and earn extra income as a freelance event photographer on the side.

Depending on your location, it’s possible to generate substantial business as an event photographer. According to a recent survey, 38% of photographers say business was “as busy or busier” in 2021 than previous years. Wedding photographers saw some of the most significant increases between February and May of last year, as more people began hosting in-person events and other festivities.

Corporations will often hire event photographers for awards dinners and retreats. If you’re more interested in specializing in weddings and parties, then you will want to focus on building your reputation through word of mouth marketing. You should also make sure to list your services on a top directories for creative professionals, like Funnel, since that’s where most people will look first to hire professionals for their events.

What Is Event Photography?

Event photography is a special subset of photography that involves capturing images of specific events and ceremonies. Event photographers help commemorate events with beautiful photos and videos. Event photographers are sometimes called commercial photographers.

An event videographer or photographer can be asked to capture all different types of events. A few examples include:

  • Weddings
  • Parties
  • Corporate Retreats
  • Concerts
  • Galas
  • Awards Ceremonies
  • Music Festivals

Event photography is more than just a hobby. To be a successful event photographer, you need to know how to bring out the best in people. Event photographers must be able to capture both journalistic images and posed portrait photographs.

Let’s take a deeper look at what it takes to be a successful event photographer.

What It Takes to Succeed in Event Photography and Videography

Working in the professional photography business means you will be interacting with people constantly. The most successful event photographers think of themselves as documentarians.

You may find yourself in some interesting situations as an event photographer or event videographer, meeting people you would otherwise never come across in your daily life. That’s just part of the job, and it’s something freelance event photographers and videographers need to be prepared for.

One of the benefits that event photography has over more traditional portrait photography is that you don’t need your own studio space. By nature, event photographers are spending the bulk of their time working in the field. That makes this an especially popular photography niche for creative professionals who are building their businesses.

10 Tips For Taking Professional Event Photographs and Videos

Think you have what it takes to become a freelance event photographer or videographer? Take your skills to the next level by applying these tips for taking professional event photographs and videos.

1. Ask for a Shot List

Every client has a shot list. If that list is inside the client’s head and not down on paper, then you’re setting everyone up for disappointment.

Professional event photographers know that one of the first steps to take, after executing a contract, is to ask the client for a list of images they want captured during the event. Shot lists help you stay organized, and they ensure you don’t miss out on any important moments. A written shot list also acts as proof of what is expected of you as the event photographer, so the client won’t claim you missed an important shot after the event is complete.

2. Bring the Right Gear

Expensive equipment isn’t necessary to succeed as an event photographer. In most cases, all you need is a full-frame DSLR with a mid range zoom and an external power flash with a diffuser or reflector.

If the event you are covering is taking place inside a large event hall or a dark conference room, then you should bring a telephoto lens, as well. You should always bring extra batteries and extra memory cards to each assignment.

If you’re worried about the startup expenses involved in becoming a freelance event photographer or freelance event videographer, then consider borrowing equipment from a friend or renting equipment from a local camera shop.

3. Arrive Early for Assignments

You never get a second chance to make a first impression — or capture that one special shot. Arriving at your events early will give you the chance to walk around and test the lighting in various locations before guests arrive. You’ll also be able to scope out the best spots to capture important images and snap a few detail shots to commemorate decorations, place settings, and anything else that’s been set up special for the event. 

4.Don’t Be Afraid to Use Burst Mode

The right equipment makes it easier to succeed at any assignment, but in the professional photography and professional videography business there is no substitute for skill. As a creative professional, you should thoroughly understand how your camera works and which settings to use at any given time.

For events like outdoor weddings and parties where guests are moving quickly, it’s a good idea to set your camera to burst mode and continuous focus. Continuous focus locks the focus on your subject, even as the subject moves. (If you use a Canon camera, continuous focus may be called AI Servo. For NIkon users, it’s called AF-C.)

5. Don’t Forget the Flash

Lighting is usually poor at indoor events, like corporate dinners or awards ceremonies. To make sure your subjects are well-lit, you’ll need to bring a flash extender for your camera.

Although natural lighting is preferred, since it produces more natural photos, it’s a good idea to leave the flash on your camera at all times, in case it becomes necessary in a darker environment. Always check with the host to make sure flash is allowed at the event. Flash photography is sometimes not allowed because it can distract speakers or take away from the festivities.

6. Choose a High ISO Setting

What do you know about ISO settings? If you’re using a low-light camera, you’re probably getting good shots when the ISO is set very high. However, there may be a point at which the lighting is so dark that the image becomes unacceptable to the client. That’s why it’s a smart idea to practice shooting in low-light.

If you’re concerned about the lighting at a particular event—especially if the host does not allow flash photography—then you should take photos at each ISO setting and ask the client to review the photos ahead of the event. Seeing what images look like without flash might make the client change their mind. Or, if the client is satisfied with the photos, they might simply ask you to do your best taking low-light images with a high ISO.

7. Get the Essentials Early

Remember the shot list you asked for prior to the event? Now’s the time to use it. There will be a lot of important moments to capture, so start early by getting the essential shots captured as soon as you can. Grab individual snapshots of all important speakers, hosts, and VIP guests, as well as a group photo of all attendees early on in the event. Promotional materials and reception first-look shots are all easy to capture during the first hours after the doors have opened, as well.

Take multiple photos of each essential shot, from different angles if possible, so the client can select their favorites during the editing process.

8. Get In On the Action

Action shots are where it’s at. For an event photographer freelancer or an event videographer freelancer, there’s nothing better than capturing guests in the moment — laughing, dancing, or chatting over drinks. Posed photos are usually required, as well, but action shots are far more interesting and they tend to elicit the most positive reactions from clients. Be quick, and always be on the lookout for something worth capturing.

9. Use Professional Software to Edit Your Images

More event photographers use Adobe Photoshop Lightroom to edit their images than any other software, however there is less expensive photo editing software available for creative professionals who are just getting started in the event photography business.

In addition to helping you adjust things like white balance, shadows, highlights, and sharpening, you can use photo editing software to create custom presets that apply the same changes to multiple photos at once. If you’re looking for the best photo editing software, check out PC Mag’s list of the best cloud-based options.

10. Back Up Your Images

Unlike certain other types of photography, there are no reshoots when it comes to event photography. With that in mind, it’s important to back up your images in more than one location. Never delete your memory card until the client has all of their images.

Ready to grow your event photography or videography business? Create your profile and display a professional portfolio on Funnel today.