How To Brief Your Event Photographer

When you run a large event it’s always a good idea to brief your event photographer and for them to make sure that you get the shots that you need and want. Here are some things to consider when putting together an event photography brief.

Your Event Schedule

In short: What is the date, venue and coverage times.

Have your photographer at the right place at the right time by providing a schedule of events. It doesn’t need to have every single timing that an AV desk might use but things like arrival time, start time, doors open, main speakers, awards and performances.

A key thing to remember is to list to highlight any key events like key note speeches, break-out sessions or VIP visits that you need photographed. If you have multiple rooms running you may need to list which rooms are more important than others and also time to move between those rooms.

In some scenarios the photographer may need to change gear such as lenses when the subject that they photograph changes. For example, they may be shooting wide room shots on a tripod and if asked to shoot a “quick portrait” of a couple the photographer will have to change lenses because nobody looks flattering photographed with a wide angle!

What is the purpose of the event?

In short: Why is the event being held?

There are many different ways to capture something in a photograph so it is important to tell the photographer the purpose of why the photographs are being taken?

Will they be used for press use, a webpage, brochures, future marketing or given to guests as a way to remember the event? This can determine the style in how the event is captured and can be tailored to suit your needs.

If there are specific requirements that you need from a photograph, such as a banner at the top of a webpage or a full-page magazine spread will require different approaches. Also any specific size or shape requirements or if you need empty space to place copy over an image afterwards this should be communicated to the photographer in advance.

Here are some quick tips to help communicate to your photographer:

  • What do you want the picture to say.
  • Be clear about how the image will be used.
  • Don’t assume digital photography is instant.

Who is attending the event?

In short: Who is on the must photograph list?

It might be easy for you to list a bunch of VIPs names on a list and hand it over but remember the photographer will probably not know those people on your list. If you have a spare minute or staff member you can spare then walking around with the photographer and pointing out certain guests is the best way you can guarantee in getting those shots. You may also want to gather the VIPs prior to doors opening and get the shots you need and out of the way before the event starts.

Don’t leave any surprises off the brief!

In short: Let your photographer know ANY surprises you may have.

If you’ve planned a special secret and can’t risk having the details on paper, then when you brief your event photographer onsite it might be a good chance to whisper in their ear. One of the worst things that can happen at an event for a photographer (besides equipment failure) is to be at the wrong place at the wrong time when something unexpected happens. If you have a special guest visitor coming down from the ceiling, a CEO jumping out of a cake, a ribbon cutting or performances coming out from anywhere besides the stage are all things photographers need to be ready for to capture the best photographs.

Fireworks or flame cannons are also something which should be mentioned as not only can it affect the photographs but losing eyebrows at work isn’t a photographer’s favourite thing to do.

Prepare a mood board

In short: Got example photos you like? Show me what you want what you really really want.

Not exactly sure how to explain what you are after? Have a look through corporate brochures or surf Pinterest to see if you can find examples of images that you like and can show the photographer. A good photographer should easily be able to identify the style of imagery you are after and bring it into their own style.

Preparing for formal or group photos

In short: Be prepared to herd cats when attempting group photos.

If you have ever tried to get winners from your awards night together for a group photo you have probably experienced how difficult it can be. To make things easier and faster it is always a good idea to have several helpers with you in rounding up people. This will ensure the photography is carried out with maximum efficiency and guests can get back to dancing the night away.

Prepare a shot list for special requests

In short: If there are certain images you need. Be specific.

There will be times when you will need specific photos of your event for different purposes and this is important to mention when you brief your event photographer. Whether that might be photos of the awards for record keeping purposes, or photos of the floral centrepieces for the florist. If there are certain photographs you need it is important to supply a shot list.

Be upfront with your requirements

In short: What do you need and when do you need it?

It’s important to communicate your expectation on delivery of your event photographs with your photographer prior to the event. “I need all of these photos by 8am tomorrow morning” during your event is not only unfair to your photographer but usually unnecessary; do you really need all the photos or just a selection.

Generally a photographer for a large event will ask for 3-5 working days for delivery of the images, however they should be able to work to tight deadlines for press when required – but only if it’s arranged in advance! If the photographer has back to back jobs they can organise a photo editor to deliver the photos on their behalf, remember, communication is key.

Keep the Brief brief

In short: Keep your brief short and sweet.

A one page brief that is easy to look over during an event is better than several pieces of paper with every single detail about the event. As tempting as it is to hand over all the information you have from bump in time to bump out times, the colour of the napkins and minute by minute schedule – it’s difficult to follow and pick out really important aspects of the event.

A easy to carry brief will allow your photographer to have it on them at all times and easily skim across it when they need. A double sided sheet with a shot list on one side and a programme on the other is a easy read and navigate.