- Best Business Practices for Photographers
- The Fast Track Photographer Business Plan: Build a Successful Photography Venture from the Ground Up
- Photographer's Survival Manual: A Legal Guide for Artists in the Digital Age
- Going Pro: How to Make the Leap from Aspiring to Professional Photographer
- Starting Your Career as a Freelance Photographer
- Selling Your Photography: How to Make Money in New and Traditional Markets
- Legal Handbook for Photographers: The Rights and Liabilities of Making Images
All associations, organizations and companies that host conferences and trade shows want digital photos and video of their events: seminars, speakers, award presentations, social gatherings, entertainment, attendees, sponsoring affiliated businesses, etc. If you’re employed by the host organization or company, then your employer, knowing of your digital photography proficiency, may ask you to shoot pictures at the conference or trade show. These events are also good opportunities to start a freelance photography career or to make additional money with your camera.
This three-part PhotographyTalk.com article presents a number of specific tips and techniques you must know to be successful, and to be asked to shoot next year’s event.
Not for Beginners.
To be able to take on the challenge of this kind of digital photography assignment, your knowledge and experience should have progressed beyond the beginner stage. You know how to use all the functions on your camera, and you have, often. You will have probably already shot thousands of pictures at various family events, your kids’ school fair or other social activities. That experience will have prepared you for the fast-paced schedule of a conference or trade show, and the various shooting positions and modes that you must know thoroughly, so you can switch between them quickly.
You also need to be reasonably equipped with a DSLR camera, various lenses or the right zoom lens, a tripod, flash unit and a camera bag filled with all the necessary supplies: memory cards, extra batteries, cleaning kit, etc. Some of your equipment may even be dictated by the conference location and venue.
Document the Specifics.
Whether you’re shooting the event as an employee or a fee-paid freelancer, it’s a good idea to have all the specifics in writing. A contract is an absolute must if you’re being hired as a freelancer. That document will delineate details, such as dates and times you’re expected to be “on duty,” fee amount and payment date(s), what format and media the photos will be provided, liability limits and copyright language.
Fee Tip: In most cases, you’ll be able charge an hourly or total-conference fee (based on an hourly rate). Remember, to include some time for preparation and any post-processing time, if the contract calls for it. Plus, add an “Expenses” line item to your contract to cover specific photography supplies you need for this project or legitimate expenses associated with the job, such as traveling from another city, which may require airfare and accommodations. Expect your client to want just a DVD filled with images, no prints.
Copyright Tip: Most associations and organizations will use your digital photos and video for public relations and on Web sites and to promote next year’s event in various printed forms. Make sure the contract defines the exact uses. It should also note your rights to publish some of the digital photos on your Web site or other media to promote yourself. It’s a good idea to agree on a specific number you can use, and then provide a list after the event, as an addendum to the contract.
Shooting List Tip: Ask your client to spend some time with you to plan a specific shooting schedule, so there are no misunderstandings about where he or she wants you to be, and when. You should then create a list of exact shots, such as an award presentation, as well as general coverage of specific presentations, seminars, social gatherings, etc. Review your shot list with your client, make any adjustments and provide him or her with a copy, again as an addendum to the contract.
If you’re an employee shooting the event as part of your job, then no contract is required, but preparing a shooting list is still a good idea.
Inquiries Tip: Another important point to detail in the contract is how you respond to inquiries from conference attendees and others. It’s likely someone will approach you asking where he or she can see the pictures or will want copies. Are you allowed to sell copies independently or do those people have to contact the hosting organization? Some people may also ask you for your business card, which could be the first step toward another freelance opportunity. Will the hosting organization allow you to use the time they are paying you to photograph the conference to promote yourself to someone who may also want your services?
If your client is amenable to promoting yourself at the event, then ask him or her if you can place a small sign or some tent cards throughout the trade show, stating that you are photographing the event.
Contact Tip: Ask your client to designate a specific person in the organization to be your contact during the event, if you need assistance or other situations arise. The president of the hosting association or with whomever you negotiated the contract will be too busy to communicate with you.
Read Part 2 of this PhotographyTalk.com series for more tips and techniques to be a successful conference and trade show photographer.