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The Importance of Professional Event Photography: Visualizing the Experience – GUEST BLOG

Did you know?

  • An estimated 84% of communication is visual in 2018. (Source:
  • Posts that include images produce 650% higher engagement than regular text posts. (Source:
  • Tweets with images earned up to 18 percent more clicks, 89 percent more favorites, and 150 percent more retweets, (Source: Buffer)


So… “Why do I need a professional photographer when we have several staff members with smartphones?” ….

That was a question recently posed by a potential client’s event planner – an industry professional.

That question led to me informally polling some of my own clients, and other industry professionals as to some of their lessons learned/challenges encountered with staff and hobby photographers.


“Ugh, we got 2000 photos <one night event>, I didn’t have time to go through them all to find good ones, I just gave up.”


“Tons of pics with just the backs of people’s heads.”


“10 copies of virtually the same photo. I had to figure out which one was the best. Do you know how hard that is?”


“All, and I mean ALL, images were provided in a video. I couldn’t pull any for print and wasn’t given the originals.”


“None of the images were high enough resolution to print.”


“Nobody was smiling. It looked like everyone hated the day, but I have lots of feedback saying guests enjoyed that event.”


“We got virtually no photos. It rained that day and the ‘building their portfolio, free photographer’, didn’t want their camera to get wet.”


“The guy with the nice camera disappeared. We had no idea where to find him for our awards ceremony.”


I also asked them how they used the images after the event…

Attendee galleries, onsite slideshows, press releases, newspaper social pages, sponsor engagement and thank you notes, post event reporting, program guides, year-around social media campaigns, event highlights, targeted marketing campaigns, monthly newsletter, speaker recognition, magazine articles… the list was extensive.

Tourism Calgary used this image in multiple aspects of their 2017/2018 marketing campaigns.
Tourism Calgary used this image in multiple aspects of their 2017/2018 marketing campaigns.


“How does a professional photographer help address the issues, and contribute to the ongoing success of your event?”

Being an event photographer isn’t just about attending and shooting an event. It’s about interacting with your guests and ensuring they have an overall positive experience.   Understanding people; knowing where to look, and when people are going to laugh (or cry), is a huge part of showcasing energy and enjoyment. An event photographer must feel comfortable interacting with everyone from serving staff to CEO, or Prime Minister to Prince. As the client, you want images that encourage future event attendance. ‘Oh look how much fun they had! We have to go next year!’ Or, ‘oh my gosh, that was such a powerful experience, I learned so much’…

HRH – The Prince Edward sharing a laugh with Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Lois Mitchell
HRH – The Prince Edward sharing a laugh with Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Lois Mitchell


The exuberance and energy at the Calgary White Hat Awards
The exuberance and energy at the Calgary White Hat Awards


The sheer talent behind the performances.
The sheer talent behind the performances.


Challenging conditions are the photographer’s responsibility.

A professional photographer has specialized equipment such as rain gear. Professional grade cameras are built to withstand the elements. Event photographers also have the experience and skill to work through ever changing lighting conditions, less than flattering fluorescence, minimizing the angle of giant podiums (there’s a story there) and the ability to react to, develop and/or work with a client/planner’s contingency plan.

do it for dads rain

Rain should never deter an event photographer…


Professional photographers sort the images for you, selecting only the best.

As the professional photographer for a four-day conference, complete with multiple speakers, a tradeshow, and three separate parties, this event produced close to 2000 images. Twelve hundred photos were lightly edited (to create a more flattering crop, give a little boost of colour, or adjust an unflattering white balance on skin tones) and delivered. These images were also separated by day and activity. The images removed weren’t necessarily ‘bad’ (although we all miss shots, or a guest walks through as you snap), but when somebody frowns mid-shot, or puts food in their mouth, or has a very unflattering expression, no matter how technically perfect the image, no one appreciates that photo. Did you know speakers have an incredible array of facial expressions – and often close their eyes? Achieving a flattering image may take 10 to 20 snaps. (My personal record is now 48!)

Guest speaker: Arlene Dickinson (Dragon’s Den)
Guest speaker: Arlene Dickinson (Dragon’s Den)


Ovarian Cancer Calgary’s LOVE HER emcee: Amber Schinkel (Global TV)
Ovarian Cancer Calgary’s LOVE HER emcee: Amber Schinkel (Global TV)


Mayor Nenshi enjoying a laugh with Jim Dewald
Mayor Nenshi enjoying a laugh with Jim Dewald


High vs. Low Resolution Images for Events

To aid with future marketing material such as slideshows, videos, programmes and guides, high resolution – around 300dpi. Low resolution (72dpi) helps make your social media and web postings easier. Free online galleries help attendees view, and share, all the fun they had.


Contracts with Photographers

Make sure you have one!!. A professional will spell out delivery terms, resolution, liability etc.

Note: since 2012 in Canada, the photographs remain the copyright of the photographer, so your contract should spell out usage rights too.

(When working with Elephant’s Remark, this is all created and addressed for you)


RATES! What to expect to pay for a Professional Event Photographer

A hobby photographer’s hourly rate may seem reasonable, but a professional event photographer has backup cameras, lenses, memory cards, and image storage solutions. The professional has business licenses, professional memberships (like MPI, ILEA, Calgary Wedding Alliance), liability insurance, vehicle insurance and vehicle operating expenses. They also have software to aid photo editing, as well as the capability to create and upload attendee galleries – so you, the client, won’t have to.   The professional photographer has taken care of fees for cloud storage and apps like Dropbox. (You may use the free version of these apps, but the paid versions allow for long term storage and recovery).  This ensures that even if your hard drive crashes, your Dropbox is full, or you have a change of staff and can’t find, or access, the photos, the professional photographer can usually help you out.


Next time your client asks what a professional event photographer can do for them, remind them why we are a key component of the event partnership.



Suzan McEvoy

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