We have another Photo Premium tutorial exclusively available to Premium members today. In this tutorial, we’ll be taking a look at becoming an event photographer. Learn more after the jump!
Event photography is a big business. There are few professional photographers who have avoided this industry completely. It can be fun and glamorous, but it’s also a high stress environment where you need to deliver consistent results on a tight deadline. In this tutorial, I’ll take you through all the steps needed to understand this profitable side of photography.
I’ve been the main photographer for a variety of events. Some have been small and serious, others big and loud. My background is in photojournalism, so “shooting people” is what I do best. Although the goals are different, many photojournalistic techniques apply to event photography.
This year I was asked to shoot a large music series in my city. It involved ten separate events over the course of a month. Each event featured a concert and a reception afterward. It was a daunting task, but a great experience. I made close to 7,000 frames and delivered over 300 toned pictures. I hope to share with you today how I did it.
Landing the Job
Landing big jobs like this isn’t something you can do right after you buy your first camera. You need to work your way up to it. In addition to my newspaper experience, I assisted many photographers while they shot big events.
Previously, I had worked as a photographer for the World Choir Games, which involved 15,000 participants from over 60 countries. They poured into the city for a 14 day singing and performance extravaganza.
I wasn’t in charge of anything but shooting the events I was told to shoot by the photographer in charge. And I was glad for that. Organizing the 40 volunteer photographers and half a dozen paid photographers was an insane task. Luckily it was handled well by someone with way more experience than me.
But, the experience was low pressure and high volume. I got to shoot a lot and if I screwed up, it wasn’t the end of the world. You should seek opportunities like this as often as you can. They are the best way to learn, and lead directly to landing big events like the music series I’ll be talking about.
Besides your previous experience, it’s important to keep your name in front of the people who might want to hire you. Having an active website and social media channels are essential. It’s also important to attend events and functions where you will meet people. If you like music photography, you better go to concerts.
I was contacted for the concert series through Facebook.
Once someone contacts you, chances are they’re ready to hire you if it’s in their budget. Occasionally, they’ll want to see more of your work or just talk to you, but it’s called the “bottom line” for a reason.
Everyone bids differently, and in the U.S. it’s actually illegal for photographers to get together and decide their rates. It’s called collusion or price fixing. That being said, I’ll talk you through my process.
I have set hourly rate. Let’s say it’s 3000 bags of peanuts. But on most of my bids, I double this cost because I know I will spend an equal amount of time editing and shooting, but it just easier to charge for the hours you’re actually working on site shooting.
The rest is simple math. How many hours will you be shooting? For my event, it was around 30 hours. So that 180,000 bags of peanuts. Factor in driving, parking costs, and incidentals as well and add that to the bid. So let’s say an even 200,000 bags of peanuts. There you go. There’s your bid.
Most clients won’t need or want the bid itemized out, but I still use the same math to calculate it. I also give roughly a 10% discount if I think it will be a repeat job. And if it’s a job that will be really inconvenient for me to do, I may put a 50% premium on the price to make it worth my while.
Also, don’t forget that you need to be willing to negotiate.
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