Preparing for the Big Event

Photographers who are planning to cover a big event need to make the right preparations. If you don’t plan ahead sufficiently, it’s easy to forget something crucial that can reduce your ability to cover the shoot as you initially intended. Which of course can cause you stress later on. This guide (Part III of the “A Complete Overview of Event Photography”), will share all the key preparations you need to make before the event.

Communicate With the Client
You want to arrive at the event with a clear idea of what is expected. Depending on the type of event, venue, and client, you may need to take certain specific shots of people or key moments at the event. For example, if it’s a corporate event, they may want shots of certain executives. For instance, there may be a certain moment, such as a speech or toast, that you’ll need to be ready to capture. Obtaining a timeline from the client is very helpful in this regard, as you’ll want to reference it when creating your shot list. This will ensure you include everything essential to the client. You may end up departing from or expanding the shot list during the event. However, it provides a good foundation and helps keep you on track for those key moments.

Another point that is important to understand is the delivery format and schedule the client expects to receive your work post event. We’ll get more into this topic in the next blog post, “Prep & Delivery of Event Photos“, but from a high-level view, there are file-sharing systems such as WeTransfer, Google Drive, Dropbox, or Pixieset. Another convenient option is to post them to a gallery on your website so the client can download them. The main point for this post, is that you’ll want to know and agree on the process ahead of time, along with the rights the client will have to the photos.

Retainers & Contracts

It’s always best to have a retainer and contract that both you and the client sign before the event. This will cover all points, including your fee, hours you’ll be working, method of delivery, additional charges if the event is longer than anticipated, and your cancellation policy. We did a post that goes into more specifics on the importance of retainers for event photographers.

Know the Venue
The more familiar you are with the venue, the easier it will be to cover the event when it may be hectic and crowded. If it’s a local venue, you can pay a visit in advance. Depending on whether it’s indoors or outdoors and whether you have access in advance, see as much as you can. Details such as parking are important.

If you can’t visit in advance or it entails a long commute or trip, you’ll have to do your research online. Look for a map or blueprint of the location. Your client may be able to provide you with more details. It’s especially important to know the lighting setup. Will you be counting on natural light, artificial light, or a combination of the two?

DJ at Las Vegas Event
Plan Your Schedule
If you write down your schedule for the day, you’re less likely to overlook anything. You can write it in a notebook or as a note on your phone or laptop, but it’s best to have an itinerary to consult. This will include the following points.

  • When you are expected to arrive.
  • If you are driving, arrange where you will park. Some events have limited parking and you don’t want to park in the wrong place or find that there are no parking spaces available. In many instances, parking passes will be provided by the client.
  • Know who you need to check in with when you arrive. This may be the client, event planner, manager, or security of the venue.
  • The itinerary of the event. If there are multiple locations, be sure to note when each stage of the event begins.

Supplies and Equipment
We cover this aspect in greater detail in our blog post, “Event Photography Equipment – A Deeper Dive” but again wanted to provide some key items to remember. Those being:

  • When shooting an event, you want to make sure you bring everything you could possibly need. This includes preparing for unexpected issues, such as equipment malfunctions.
  • Although you want to make sure you are fully prepared, you also want to pack as lightly as possible. One solution is to arrange for a place to keep extra gear when you arrive. This could be your vehicle or a storeroom at the venue. This is another point you can inquire about beforehand.

Practice Makes Perfect
Take some test shots prior to starting your photo session so that once things kick off, you are comfortable with the different lighting conditions. This way any minor adjustments needed can easily be made before the actual shoot.

The Better Prepared You Are, the More Smoothly the Event Will Go
As you’ll come to learn, each event is a little different. Having a plan ahead of time when preparing yourself and your equipment, will go a long way towards ensuring success during any given event photography assignment.

Next up: Prep & Delivery of Event Photos

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