One of the things that newcomers to the photography business often find out the hard way is that it can leave gaps in your income stream. Selling prints is often an on-again/off-again process, portraiture and weddings tend to be seasonal and assignments can be very rare. All of these tendencies are even more pronounced while you're working on making a name for yourself, so unless you're independently wealthy, a second source of income may be a necessity for a while.
Fortunately, if you're willing to take on jobs that might not be glamorous, but can be plentiful, you might not have to look any farther than your camera to fill those income gaps. Event photography is one niche that may bring you more than enough business to keep the wolves away from the door while your business grows. In fact, for the right kind of person, it may even become a permanent part of your service offerings.
Photographing events isn't complicated, but it does come with some requirements. The most important of those are:
No matter what kind of event you're asked to shoot, you're going to be working with people. Knowing how to deal with them is going to be your most important asset. That may mean kids of any age, corporate executives, soccer moms, or just about any type of individual. Don't try this genre unless you're prepared to handle people, their moods and their emotions.
An event photographer is going to need to know how to shoot in any kind of lighting, and how to adapt quickly when the light changes. You'll need to know how to stop motion, set up in a hurry for impromptu portraits, use your flash correctly, change lenses on the run, and, in general, how to take great photos in almost any conditions. You're not going to get second chances in this arena, so you need to get the shots right the first time.
The Right Advertising
Obviously, if you want calls to shoot special events, you're going to need to make yourself available. A Yellow Pages ad is still fairly effective, but can be pricey. Online classifieds are a fairly good advertising medium. Our favorite advertising method for events photographers, though, is a listing in KeepSnap's directory. Hundreds of potential clients are searching their database for photographers, by location or by name, so those who haven't heard of you can find you, as well as those who've been referred by a satisfied client. When you're out and about, your KeepSnap business card can get people to your profile right away, too. Be sure to leave some with your clients for referrals.
A Little Fashion Sense
Showing up in your cargo shorts and Hawaiian shirt probably isn't going to go over well at a business conference. By the same token, a suit and tie probably won't be needed at a company picnic. It's always best to get an idea of the dress code when you talk to a client, but when in doubt, it's easier to correct overdressing than going too casual.
Quick Editing and Delivery
Making your clients wait for weeks to see their event photos isn't going to get you rehired, either. When you've completed a shoot, do your editing as soon as possible and get them out there for your clients to see. Getting your photos to the client is another great way to use KeepSnap. When you're done editing, you can simply upload the finished photos (even in RAW format if you like) and let your clients know they're ready to view and purchase in their private gallery. No need to print proofs, schedule a sitting, or even produce the final prints!
Give it a try!
If you can meet the requirements above, there's a good chance you can make a substantial income while gaining free access to events all around your locale. If you enjoy people, working at a fast pace and the possibility of a solid stream of work, give event photography a try. You might like it more than you expect!