#365days2018 – what’s your creative project this year?

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Snow Woman – Jan 5, 2018 #365days2018

Apparently, yesterday was the most depressing day of the year (at least for those of us in the Northern hemisphere).  Now that that’s done, we can move on and get on with 2018. In a photographer’s world, January is a bit of a funny month. The search for a wedding photographer begins in earnest for 2018 weddings, and event managers start thinking about booking for their upcoming events.  A lot of people also may be hitting that 10 year expiration on their headshots and might be thinking it’s time for a new one. (If that’s you btw, you’re in luck – click here to send an email to get early bird notifications for when the Feb 2018 flash sale super-discounted $45/head headshots is taking place. This sale only happens once a year so don’t miss out!).

It’s also a time when a lot of freelancers are chasing down unpaid invoices from last year, and looking at ways to revitalize their marketing efforts for the coming year to start filling that funnel.

One thing I like to do as a photographer is start at least one creative project in January. While I’m still putting the finishing touches on my book for freelancers (Gigonomics) coming out early this year, I’ve also begun a fun experiment with my Fuji Instax Neo Classic which produces instant prints. I’ve committed to taking one a day for 2018. It’s quite a change from shooting digital as the prints cost over $1/each and so there is a subtle constraint to really think about the photo I’m taking. I’m also trying to take a photo that captures the main event or feeling of that day. It’s kind of like what Instagram used to be before it got colonized by Influencers living off sponsored posts and marketers showcasing all the amazing experiences you’ll have when you buy in.  At least that’s my take on it.

It’s also a bit of a re-learning journey for me using a fairly basic camera after growing used to all the whiz bang tools and high end kit I’ve got. It forces me to go back to the basics in photography and to rely on my own creativity.  And it’s a lot of fun.

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I know a lot of people take on some kind of challenge or new year’s resolutions. Some are really really dumb (like the Tide Pod eating challenge I read about today) and some are healthy (quitting drinking, eating more kale) and some are just for fun.  I think building in some kind of creative daily act is a worthwhile one to try. It’s a great way for older brains to stay fit and once you start stirring up your creative juices, who knows what will come out if it.

The beginning of a year is a good time to think about making changes, and tackling those creative projects you’ve been thinking of doing for a long time. Start writing that book (a sentence a day is better than a blank page); get the gym body you’ve always wanted (start now and by July you’ll be ripped), or just finally launch your freelance career. You only need to take a first step before changes get set in motion.

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This year I plan to reach more customers by extending the services I’ve got to offer. I’ve built up a team of vetted, talented freelancers over the past few years (videographers, writers, web designers and digital marketers) and am excited about the bigger projects we can tackle together. (Stay tuned for a new website!) From major conferences, gala parties, international events, corporate portraits or unique weddings, we’ve been able to take on bigger and more ambitious projects in 2017 and 2018 will be even bigger.

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So if you’re back at your desk after your jaunt in the sun (or your hibernation from the extreme cold) and looking at your events calendar for the year, take five minutes and let your mind ponder some creative projects to keep you engaged and happy. Need some ideas? Let’s talk.

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.