EVENT PHOTOGRAPHY SAN FRANCISCO, SILICON VALLEY, AND SAN JOSE CA
In the last few years, I’ve noticed that I have a higher success rate landing big multi-day corporate event photography jobs when I’m in direct contact with the actual client or someone with significant responsibility for the success of the event. Sometimes, I get the call from a more junior person whose only job is gathering bids and who can only pass on a basic description of the event. My theory is the lack of information results in a bid that’s more expensive than it has to be. By talking directly with the client/planner, I probably could have discovered ways to reduce the event photography hours (saving the client money) and still get all the photos the client really needs.
For example, a multiday conference hosted at a big hotel often has social events in the evening that usually start with drinks and socializing and lead to dinner and perhaps dancing or entertainment afterward. Photos during a meal are rarely successful (ie, they are rarely flattering) and can be annoying to the guests. After dinner there can be great photo opportunities of awards presentations, speeches, entertainment and dancing. But I’ve found that photos of people dancing and partying till the bitter end are a waste to time and money (you can probably guess why). About 1.5 hours of dancing/partying photos are all that’s really needed so why not save money get a bid that reflects releasing the photographer early.
And how about those photos of conference registration? Yes, a few are often needed by the client but having the photographer arrive at or before the start of registration usually results in expensive standing-around time for the event photographer. About 30 minutes of registration photos is usually plenty.
When I get a chance to really understand the event, I can often suggest changes like this that save some hours on the front and back end of the event. This results in a bid that’s lower than it would have been when I’m only given basic event hours, which is why I’ve noticed that I usually get the job when there’s more direct interaction and participation with the client/planner. I’ve helped the client get all the event photos they need for 10%-20% less cost. Not that I don’t want those extra hours, but clients (and planners) appreciate my respect for their budget and that also makes them repeat customers.
One caveat: Shaving hours in the middle of an event doesn’t always work the same way. You can’t really “expect” the event photographer to go off the clock for 1.5 hours while your guests are between the last session and the start of the evening reception. The photographer is a captive at that point and can’t probably use or enjoy that time so it’s typically not a place to reduce cost. Although, I have occasionally gone off the clock in situations like this, especially when it’s a multiday event and the client has provided a room at the conference hotel (so I have a place to relax other than hiding in the lobby).
I’m reminded of the Geico commercials about 15 minutes saving you 15%. My message is very similar. By taking more time to have a dialogue with me about your event, I can often surprise you with ways to spend less and still get everything you need.