I often receive solicitations by email to work for foreign clients coming into town for an event they are hosting. The type of events range from a few hours of a global sales meeting to full multi-day conferences, and every kind of networking / cocktail / gala / awards reception you can think of in between. I’ve noticed that many of these out-of-country clients work with very specific mandates and shot lists, sensibly, since they are typically the same kind of organizations that mount events worldwide and need to ensure a consistent quality across their global portfolio of events.
Here are some tips to make the process smoother and easier for event planners looking for creative contacts in a city they are unfamiliar with:
Conference and trade-show photography covers a wide spectrum of photographic specialities and serves a few different purposes.
A conference and trade-show photographer can reasonably be expected to:
Cover all onstage action from a few different angles. Good lighting is important as speakers can often get washed out or take on a yellow or orangey cast from the stage lights if not adjusted for. As well you should expect to get shots from the back of the room, as well as both sides, wide and close shots, and a few from the speakers point of view showing the room, preferably filled with a rapt audience.
A couple of posed shots of speakers at podiums or in front of their branded presentation on-screen
Candid, “pick-up” shots of attendees doing what they came there to do: meeting people, shaking hands, networking and socializing
At trade-shows or scientific congresses where your exhibitors are presenting products or academic posters at least one shot of the booth with attendants, and one without for reference
Room and set-up “beauty” shots, particularly for any gala or VIP event
Signage, interior and exterior, for reference purposes and to provide proof and lift to any sponsoring entities involved
Provide all images with a standard usage licence that allows the client to use the images for their intended purposes (websites, promotions, emailers etc)
Add-ons that can be accommodated on special request would include:
Provision of a photobooth for any cocktail or evening activity
Drone flyover videos of your outdoor party or gatherings
A mobile studio set-up with seamless white or grey paper backdrops for headshots of attendees or key executives
Time-lapse images of rooms or in the case of trade shows, the set up, action and tear down of the booths
Shoutouts, Tweets, Instagrams, etc. using your conference provided hashtags and social media handles
Immediate turnaround on images – making at least highlight reels available for the next day to post during the conference and feed voracious social media channels
In terms of scheduling and availabilities:
Full day coverage, starting out before the conference opens straight through to the end of the last event. 12 hour days are not uncommon and since conference attendees tend to work hard during the day and socialize at night, your photographer should be there to capture all the action wherever and whenever it happens
What shouldn’t be expected is:
Free headshots for guests – if your photographer agrees to do it, that’s fine, but a lot of “Hey buddy, I need a new LinkedIn profile shot” requests to just grab a quick headshots isn’t really appropriate
Accommodation to unbudgeted big scope change requests or bringing in a mobile studio after the contract is concluded
Supernatural knowledge of schedule changes – if your main event is shifted to another room or there are key aspects of a particular presentation (like the handing out of awards) that you want shots of, be sure to communicate what you need clearly with your shooter before the event happens
Photo and video coverage of the same event at the same time without budgeting for the necessary resources
The best thing to do when looking for a conference or trade show photographer is be up -front with your requirements, have a fair budget available for the hours you need coverage for and communicate the schedule clearly. Hourly and daily rates can vary considerably depending on the city your event takes place in. Familiarize yourself with the going rates in your destination before setting expectations based on other markets and once you’ve agreed to a contract, expect to pay a deposit or at least be on the hook for one should you be required to cancel for whatever reason before the event takes place. As in any skilled trade, you will find a range of providers with a range of pricing. Caveat emptor!