Photos can showcase your events to the world. Whether you’re a third-party planner showing clients the magnificent programs you bring to life, an exhibition manager promoting upcoming events, or an incentive planner motivating attendees toward future goals, nothing works quite like high-quality photography.

But it’s important to get photography into the budget from the start, because costs can add up. Pricing for an event photographer can range from $115 to $195 per hour (typically with a two- to four- consecutive-hour minimum), and this could easily vary by 20 percent based on the photographer’s location and, most significantly, his or her level of experience. You could also see additional costs depending on how you receive the photos, for example via DVD, FTP site, or thumb drive.

A photographer with extensive experience and a solid client base is going to cost more, but what experience buys you is a thorough understanding of most photographic situations and an understanding of the challenges inherent in a meeting and trade show environment. The meetings business serves up challenges that require not only photographic skills, but also insight and flexibility, scheduling know-how, and a certain level of sophistication—your photographer may be working face to face with your C-level execs and VIPs.

Here are the key questions to ask when hiring an event photographer:

  1. What percentage of your business is shooting meetings and trade shows?
  2. How long have been in the meeting business?
  3. Do you have a Web site with samples of your work?
  4. Do you include unlimited usage rights in your pricing?
  5. How and when will I receive my photo images and is that included in the price?
  6. Do you have recent references?
  7. Do you know the venue, and are there areas that are convenient for group photos or environmental portraits? Is there a backup location for bad weather?
  8. Are you insured for at least $1 million?
  9. What is your attire on site?
  10. Do you arrive 15 to 30 minutes before you need to begin shooting?
  11. Are you available 24/7 to respond to last-minute changes to the schedule?
  12. Do you bring backup equipment on site?
  13. Can you provide an on-site studio for updating attendee or board member portraits? Is there an additional cost?
  14. Do you offer Web sites for viewing/downloading photographs for attendees or internal company use?
  15. Do you offer photo-sharing technologies that are sustainable and interactive for your guests? 

Equally important as the questions you’ll ask the photographer is the question that he or she should be asking you: What are your goals and objectives for the photos? An experienced photographer should be able to shoot with the style and content that will achieve your goals, whether that be creating an annual report, amusing your guests, or highlighting your educational content.

Photo Tech
A number of new technologies are available to make meeting photography more interactive, green, and innovative.

Branded USBs. Thumb drives are  great take-aways and can link users to a meeting microsite filled with photos, the meeting agenda, social media links, and other meetings materials. Read a QR code on the microsite with your phone to view the mobile version.

Instant wireless slide shows. The photographer can instantly send images to screens creating an interactive entertainment and teambuilding experience.

Photo kiosks. On-site kiosks allow attendees access to all photos for printing, downloads, or social-media sharing.

Remember that photography is not just photography. It can serve as entertainment, marketing materials, and memorable gifts. There is a fabulous emotional component attached to images that’s hard to duplicate in any other way. Shooting wisely and making the most of your event photos spreads out the cost—and positive impact—of a photographer’s services.

Bob Christie is the president/owner of Christie’s Photographic Studios Inc. The 30-year-old company offers event photography services nationwide, with offices in Orlando, Las Vegas, Miami, Tampa, and Washington, D.C.