Your event photographer needs to understand your marketing goals


An event photographer’s job is to capture images that tell the story of not just the event, but the purpose of the event. And that purpose, invariably, is to promote and develop an idea targeting a specific audience.

Sometimes that idea is a brand promotion, sometimes it is the launch of a product or new service, sometimes it is an award ceremony – but though the specifics vary, the client’s goal is always the same: get good photos that tell our story how we want it told so that we can use the images to achieve our marketing goals.  Not every event is marketing a product or a service, but every event is marketing (or promoting, or encouraging) an idea. That idea can be “generate higher employee engagement” or “fundraise for X cause” or simply “let people know who we are and what we do”.

As a highly experienced event photographer who has worked with several PR firms and marketing professionals, I understand that I am being hired to generate images that will help promote the brand/product/organization around which the event is being held.  It follows that I take the time to understand that idea and apply my understanding in the moment when I am snapping photos.

This advance thinking about an event helps me do my job as an event photographer better. By understanding the promotional goals of the event (receiving advance copies of the marketing brief, or description of the purpose of the event ahead of time helps) I am better able to position subjects, focus on the important elements and deliver media or print ready images quickly for my client’s use.

My focus and single idea when working for my clients is clear: deliver top quality images, professionally and quickly that align with my client’s event goals.


Adding a photobooth to your next event is easier than you think

This year I’ve covered several events in Montreal from corporate gatherings and annual conventions to 40th birthday parties, and I’ve witnessed a huge increase in demand for an onsite photo booth. I am a big supporter of this trend as it really adds a lot to an event and takes the photographer from being a part of the background to being an integral part of the event. Guests love the opportunity to ham it up in front of the camera and the resulting photos can be displayed almost immediately if the venue is set up with a screen and projector. This creates a great feedback loop that encourages more people to wander over to wherever the photo booth is set up, and the photos can get wilder and wilder. It is a really fun way to use an event photographer’s skill and equipment, and provides guests with something fun to do at the event. Add in a few different backgrounds and some onsite insta-prints at the end of the night and you have a recipe for a very successful event you and your guests will love.

Photobooths can range from renting out actual old-school photo booths (the kind that you posed in with your girlfriend in high school at a metro in Montreal) which nowadays can be quite expensive, to a camera on tripod with a simple backdrop and one flash unit that can be set up almost anywhere no matter how small your event space. While you can do it yourself (using the self timer function on the camera or a remote control for your camera) it is much easier to ask the professional photographer you’re hiring to include the photo booth option as part of the quote.

As a professional event photographer, I am increasingly incorporating a photo booth into my work with great results. At weddings you can be guaranteed to get a portrait of all your guests for your wedding books and if you are hosting a theme oriented party (see onsite print posts from a James Bond themed event here) you can really add to the guests enjoyment and engagement throughout the event.

The advantages of including a photo booth for your event:

  • More fun!
  • Highly engaging for guests
  • Images can be seen and shared with all guests instantly
  • Moderately more expensive than simply asking for event photos – but hugely more entertaining and instant value generated for event organizer and guests

Pros and cons of onsite printing at events

I’ve recently photographed a few events in Montreal where I delivered instant onsite prints during the event. While setting up a photo booth and managing the process adds a layer of complexity and costs to an event, in all cases where I’ve done this the client – and especially the event guests were thrilled with the results. Even though we live in an age of photographic image saturation, fewer and fewer people ever get a good old fashioned photographic print in their hands anymore but when they do, they are delighted. Here’s the brief pros and cons list from an event photographer in Montreal’s point of view:


  • Makes event more memorable for your guests
  • Branding opportunity – the photo can have your logo as well as the date and place of the event helping keep your organization in mind long after the event is done.
  • Happier guests – most people get dressed up for events (especially gala functions or fundraisers) and enjoy seeing themselves in a photo looking their best
  • Adds excitement – posing for the photos and have a real (albeit improvised) studio set up as part of your event adds a little pizazz and excitement. After a drink or two, almost everyone loves to get in front of the camera for a shot.


  • Raises cost of event to cover additional cost of prints
  • Requires a little extra space in venue
  • Best achieved with two photographers on site rather than just one which is often otherwise sufficient

In short, if you are running an event on a tight budget and only want the minimal coverage to have a few photos to distribute after the event in newsletters or on a website, then you probably don’t need to add onsite prints to your event. If, however, you are looking to make an impression (no pun intended) with your event and want an additional way to keep your organization top-of-mind for your guests, giving them a small print of themselves to take home with them is a value-adding activity that has a big impact for a marginal increase in costs.


Fundraiser event at Place des Arts

Covering the fabulous Concert contre le cancer at Place des Arts for the fourth year running. We started with a photobooth for VIP guests, printing off their portraits on a superfast Sony Snaplab. Cocktails to follow, but for now I sit inconspicuously in the loge snapping shots of the musicians in this gorgeous new concert hall.

The concert was a success, raising close to $500k in donations!



Here are a few more images from the event:

Event photos @ Concert contre le cancer by Julian Haber (Julian Haber)Event photos @ Concert contre le cancer by Julian Haber (Julian Haber)



Less is more

I’ve been an event photographer in Montreal for more than a decade. In 2012, I’m committed to providing superior service to my clients. One thing I’ve learned and will be applying in 2012 is that clients want you to curate collections when you deliver the goods. Gone are the days of dumping hundreds of unedited proofs online for a poor, overworked event planner or still blushing bride to have to go through and choose from. In 2012, I will be delivering far fewer images to clients with the goal of provided a clear, focused set of the top photos of a manageable size.

I’d love to hear back from people who hire event photographers on how you handle the post-event photo delivery and what you expect to see. Please feel free to email me or respond in the comment form below.

Pro event photography for your holiday party at reasonable prices

Right about this time of year people start planning their holiday parties. Invariably, as there are only a few available weekends for parties and events in December, there will be many events happening on the same dates. If you’re planning to have an event for your employees, staff, team or even family and want to have some photos taken of the event, now is the time to book.

Even if you’ve already thought of who you’ll be using, why not shop around a little? Given these times of economic austerity, it is still possible to hire a professional event photographer to cover your holiday party at a reasonable rate. I cover events throughout the year and have recently been amazed at some of the outrageous pricing my competitors charge for what should be a reasonable expense to capture the important people and moments at your company party. It’s always a good idea to shop around and ask for quotes, being sure to measure not only the bottom line, but your photographer’s attitude, demeanour and generally how you feel about him or her. Ultimately, your photographer is a guest at your event – albeit one who’s there to do a specific job for you – but still representing you and your company and you should definitely have a good rapport with him or her.  You want to be sure to get the images you need and enjoy working with your event photographer.


Extend the reach of your launch with an event photographer

Opening a new restaurant or bar? Launching a new album/film/book/product? Kicking off the opening of a new facility? If so, here are a few tips for getting the most out of your investment in your event:

  • Hire an experienced professional event photographer! While this is entirely self-serving, it is also in the best interest of the event planner or event coordinator for the launch. If that’s you, you already know how many details you need to take care to make the launch run smoothly. Everything from making sure the audio-visual components work, to having well-presented and tasty food, a good choice of red and white wines (not too cheap, not too pricey). Are you including a cocktail as well? And then there is the staff, both your own and that of your caterer and perhaps a team of volunteers who have the enthusiasm but may need a little guidance. The last thing you need to worry about is your photographer screwing up or not understanding the marketing value of good, clean, focused event photos.
  • Have your key people ready for a few quick important photos early: you don’t have to wait for the event to happen to get those key shots (like the one above taken before the event began). If what you are launching is important enough to merit a budget for an event, then you want to have a few key photos of the principals standing within a well-framed shot including a branded background if possible or other important visuals that link the event, people and purpose together. A professional event photographer in Montreal will know what to do and how to get that critical photo for you and can have it in the can before the event even starts. 
  • Get all the static pre-event shots done first: With an early start, your event photographer can also grab shots of the venue looking its best, including the food presentation and any other item that doesn’t require your guests to be there but are an essential part of the experience. These static shots are great to have for use in future brochures, on your website, in marketing letters and campaigns and are easy to get if your event photographer is there before the event has already started.
  • Ask for photo delivery on the spot: why wait for your images? Digital images are created instantly and a professional event photographer will capture them with correct lighting and colours balanced right off the first take. As a client, you can and should ask for a download of those images right away. Leave the photographer some time at the end of the night to process the images for you and end your event with DVD in hand of all the high and low res images – ready for usage immediately if you want to make the next day’s papers. Any specific images you later want to have a few touch-ups applied to should be included in your event photographer’s service to you (mine always does) so that you can have both speed and quality for one simple price.
Planning and running events are stressful and often thankless tasks. If it is your job to organize one, you want to work with professionals all the way through. As a professional event photographer, I’ve covered literally hundreds of events in Montreal and most likely have already covered and event in the venue you’ve selected. If you’re in the early planning stages feel free to ask for advice on venues, caterers, djs and other special event performers as I’ve encountered many throughout my career in Montreal as an event photographer and am glad to share with my prospective clients.
Below are a few sample shots from the Miriam Foundation‘s recent launch of their brand new facilities housing their Abe Gold Learning Center.

Photos from Montreal International Startup Festival

Had a great time photographing and attending the Montreal International Startup Festival and have just posted the photos from the event to my Flickr photostream. I’ve written a few articles and will be adding a few more on Next Montreal – you can check out my coverage of Randy Smerik‘s excellent presentation on making sure your company is always ready to be bought here. Thank you to Ben Yoskovitz for the invitation to help him cover the event and many thanks to the many people I met and / or reconnected with whose good looks and willing smiles gave my camera something to focus on. I’ll be connecting directly with those of you whom I had the fortune to chat with personally but if we failed to meet at Startupfest, please feel free to do so anytime with me here or on Facebook, Linkedin or Twitter. (In header photo from left to right: Phil Telio, (Startup Festival King), Dave McClure (500 Startups) and Ilana Ben-Ari whose got Phil and Dave to wear the same shirt blindfolded).

Yes, they're techies too.

Tricks for a great group photo

Whether you are a professional portrait or event photographer, or managing a public relations or communications project, you will at some point require a good group photo. Having worked for more than a decade taking hundreds of group photos of corporate management teams, wedding parties, graduating classes and countless ad hoc groupings of people having a good time at an event, I’ve learned a few tricks on how to make sure the group photos come out well.

  1. Take control: whether it’s a grouping of just two starry eyed newlyeds, or a mass of 75 recent graduates, the moment when you are setting up to take that photo is when you need to step up and take control. Make sure everyone in that photo is listening to your instructions and doing what you tell them to do. If there are other cameras getting in on your set up, that’s fine, but be clear to your subjects that they need to look into your lens at all times until you are done. Most of the time, the people in group photos want to get the photo over with as soon as possible and they will value your leadership and professionalism in helping that happen while still getting the best possible shot.
  2. Use common sense & stay cool: Putting tall people in the back and shorter people up front seems like an obvious suggestion but if the group is large enough to need two rows, it can also be large enough to be difficult to manage and in the heat of the moment a photographer may be tempted to just snap away at any configuration. Resist that temptation and make sure everyone is organized as well as you can according to height so that no one is blocking the view of anyone else. In many groups there is someone or some smaller grouping that is more important – place them centrally.
  3. Keep all eyes on you: make sure you can see everyone’s face in your lens and tell everyone in the shot to make sure they can look straight into your lens. If they are looking at the back of someone’s head, you need to reposition people until everyone has as clear a view of you as needed to make sure they get their smiling faces in the shot.
  4. Take more than one shot: while this is true for nearly all important photos, it is especially true for the group photo. No matter how charming, organized and clear you are in communicating what’s required to get the perfect group photo, inevitably someone will blink, or turn their head or otherwise be the person who ruins the shot. It’s your job to catch it when it happens, take another shot, and then another to be sure that your final deliverable is what everyone is expecting. A great group photo with everyone in focus, looking happy and with their eyes wide open (see images 1 and 2 below).

I’m sure there are other tricks of the trade out there and I’d be happy to hear about them from anyone else working as a Montreal portrait or event photographer. Add your comments or send me an email with your tips on getting the best group photo you can get.

An eventful 2010

It’s been an eventful year working both a full time job running an art startup, ArtAnywhere, and working as a Montreal photographer.  While I don’t know where I found the time, I managed to fit in a total of 73 different photo assignments in events, weddings, portraits and real estate. Here’s a quick run down of the range of photography work I had this past year:

  • Several high-society events at some of Montreal’s finest venues all over downtown and Old Montreal for clients like HSBC, KPMG-MSLP, the Invest in Kids foundation (where I got to meet Dolly Parton – YAY!) and others.
  • I covered five large weddings ranging in style from the truly luxurious in a gorgeous Mont Tremblant condo, to an elegant affair in Montreal restaurant Aix, at the Hotel Place d’Armes; I worked with a promising new photographer, Celia Lavinskas at a sunny outdoor wedding on St. Helen’s Island, as well as travelled to Ontario to cover weddings in both Guelph and Ottawa, at the National Arts Center.
  • I carried on my commitment putting my photography skills to good use with as much pro-bono work I could fit in, providing photography services to Exceptional Family, maintaining an annual tradition covering the Cancer Institute of Montreal‘s annual Concert contre le cancer (I’ll be there again this coming February 4, 2011), and donating family portrait sessions as a prize in the Haiti Tweet up fundraiser organized by Flow Ventures (we raised over $10K); and a major fundraiser portrait session at my child’s daycare (25 young family portraits in a single day!)
  • My portrait practice grew this year as well as I zipped across town to provide onsite, in-office portraits for executives at Rio Tinto Alcan, Purves Redmond, Global Prime Office Network, Financial Research Solutions, professional artists, and real clowns(!) with my brother and fellow photographer, Daniel Francis Haber, from the upcoming production of MöcSplot put on by Geordie Productions in Montreal (show runs from February 4 – 13th)
  • Industrial photography and portraits for one of my favourite Montreal companies, Enerkem (a company that turns garbage into fuel)
  • Several beautiful properties for real estate agents including many for Stacy Bouchard-Burns, whose wide-ranging business had me shooting condos, duplexes, and single-family homes throughout Old Montreal, downtown, Point St Charles, Westmount and NDG.
  • (I even had the good fortune of selling two of my fine art pieces to the CSA Group headquarters in Toronto where my work is now part of their permanent art collection.)

I’m grateful to all my clients and want to thank you for trusting me with your photo work in 2010. I look forward to working with you again this coming year (note to my wedding clients: I love doing baby portraits!). Thank you and I wish you all success in 2011

The art of event photography – recent work in Montreal

Whew, what a month! I was lucky to have a few great event photography gigs this month, one for KPMG for their annual recruitment event held at the beautiful Plateau Bar at the W hotel (which I had fun photographing with my brother Daniel Francis Haber in late 2008 – click here to see some of these gorgeous interior shots) as well as another client appreciation event put on by YOUR BRAND Integrated Marketing Communications, on behalf of HSBC, hosted in Montreal’s Musée d’art contemporain. Both events were well organized, held in beautiful venues and well attended. As a Montreal event photographer, I often gain access to such places and love being able to wander among these well-heeled crowds, interacting with them and capturing their candid portraits.

Have a look at these selections showcasing how I work as an event photographer in Montreal. As a service provider, my role is to listen to what the client wants and is expecting and pay attention to the end use of the images I will be producing. This usually entails photographing guests and important people at the event, but also images of the room and its setup before guests arrive, as well as key branding materials my clients can use to show the effectiveness of their own work for their clients.  Great looking people in great looking venues provide excellent value for clients looking to give their brands positive associations. As an event photographer, I recognize my role as part of the team focused on delivering that result and I aim to please (pun intended). If my clients look good, I look good which is why I take every event photography contract in Montreal seriously and give it my full attention. I don’t just want a happy client – I want a delighted client who thinks of me first when they are hosting an event in Montreal and need an event photographer.

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Hello Dolly!

As an event photographer in Montreal, every now and then I am fortunate to shoot stars in intimate settings, and last night at a boutique hotel in Montreal, I and my assistant Celia Lavinskas, had the pleasure of shooting the talented and lovely Dolly Parton. The event was a fundraiser in support of Invest in KidsDolly Parton’s Imagination Library is a partner with Invest in Kids and she was there to pack her star power behind the Invest in Kids fundraising efforts. Lucky for us, Dolly photographs beautifully and is a gracious model, posing not just with Montreal’s elite but also the working people at the events who help keep events running smoothly.  Here’s to you Dolly!

Event photographer, Julian Haber, posing with Dolly Parton
Me and Dolly, photo by Celia Lavinskas

Why hire an event photographer?

What are some of the reasons why people hire an event photographer? As an active Montreal event photographer I’ve had many opportunities to consider this question as I am photographing events for different clients. I think people hire event photographers for at least the following three (+ one) reasons:

  1. To document the event for a client (i.e. if you are running the event as a brand marketing, communications, or PR firm and are providing photographs as part of your contract)
  2. To generate visual content for a range of media (internal newsletters and websites, external publications, annual reports, etc.)
  3. To provide photos as gifts to your guests (usually this entails a meet-and-greet set-up where the guests enter and are photographed in singles, couples or groups in front of a branded backdrop)
  4. I would add a fourth, perhaps less explicit reason as well: an event photograph adds excitement to your event and if done well by a professional event photographer, can serve to create moments and not simply document those that naturally arise in the heady mix of well dressed beautiful people, alcohol, luxurious settings in high-end restaurants or boutique hotel event spaces and music.

If you are running an event for a client you are very likely considering at least these reasons as you plan out your event schedule (please feel free to suggest more).  This also means, that you are very likely most interested in getting great shots quickly when the event is complete. In addition to talent and experience, you will want to query your prospective event photographers on their process and how they will get the images of the event to you (and how quickly). If you are not leaving the night with a DVD of your high-resolution images in hand (or won’t be downloading them the following day from a password protected website) then you may not be dealing with a professional event photographer.  

As an experienced event photographer, I shoot an average of 100 shots per hour, and factor in time at the end of the evening to transfer these images to a DVD which I burn and leave with my client before the night is over. This provides the client with the assurance that should they get any media requests for images they can respond immediately with visuals, and allows the client to begin using the images for their intended purposes right away rather than waiting a week or two for a series of images to be released by the photographer, at which point much of the punch and usefulness of these transient event photos may have evaporated. 

It is for this same reason – to quickly provide clients with images as the event transpires – that I do not edit my images unless requested. This saves an enormous amount of time for the event photographer and gives the client complete control of the images they have purchased by hiring an event photographer in the first place. I always include with every event photography contract I am hired for a reasonable number of edited images. I use the word “reasonable” because it is hard to predict exactly how many images a client may or may not want edited in post-production for very specific purposes, but my experience as an event photographer has taught me that 99.9% of all clients are reasonable. Most people do not want a deluge of images edited. They may come back and ask for a few to be edited for lighting here, a detail there, but by and large, the output of a professional event photographer direct from the camera to DVD meets the needs and expectations of clients who hire event photographers. This also ensures maximum convenience to the client who knows that once their event is done, they will have all the images they paid for in their hands before the lights go on and the clean up begins.

If you are an event planner, a public relations professional, wedding planner, event space manager, branding or communications professional and have been tasked with hiring an event photographer for an upcoming event (particularly in a city not your own, i.e. a Toronto-based firm looking for a good event photographer in Montreal), consider the reasons why you are hiring your event photographer and put into your requirements what you expect from the contract. A professional event photographer should have no problem providing you with full coverage and all your images delivered to you within (latest) 24 hrs of your event.  You’re paying for the service, so make sure you get what you need and want. In event photography, the client is ALWAYS right.

Concert contre le cancer 2010

Making a difference and looking good at the same time!

The Concert to fight Cancer 2010 was a great success with a sell out crowd of over 2500 people at Place des Arts on Friday, February 5th, 2010, gathered to attend a benefit concert starring Kent Nagano and the MSO in support of the Institut du cancer de Montreal (ICM). In addition to the strong turnout for the concert, the cocktail party before and after the concert was well attended by Montreal luminaries.  Julian Haber Photography is a proud supporter of the ICM and once again was there to cover the evening from start to finish.

Haiti TweetUp Follow Up

Raising funds for Haiti

The Haiti TweetUp organized by Flow Consulting on January 19th was a great success. We raised over $10,000 for Medecins Sans Frontieres and hopefully motivated people to do more to help Haiti, a country that was already in need of help before being struck by the worst natural disaster in our hemisphere ever.  You can catch the wrap up here in case you missed it.