With the rise in popularity of consumer-affordable DSLRs and quality compact cameras, along with ubiquitous camera-enabled smartphones, the ability for general event attendees to create snapshots of their experiences has never been easier.
It might be tempting to forego professional event photography services in favor of letting attendees capture and share their memories and call it “good enough.” As you weigh whether or not it makes sense to hire an event photographer for your company party, open house, conference, trade show, or other special event, consider the following
- Event attendees are there primarily to experience the event. During a conference session, they’re going to be actively listening to the speaker, taking notes, and perhaps formulating a question. A professional event photographer will be moving around the room perimeter for the best photo angle or considering the room lighting as he makes the best possible photo of the speaker and interactions.
- Event attendees are on a one-track schedule based on their own interests. If your event includes multiple simultaneous speakers or other activities in different places at different times, consider than an attendee is going to go to locations and work at a pace that benefits their interest in the event. A true event photographer can work from room to room to create quality photographs without being tied into the duration of a session or activity.
- Consider a wedding with key moments such as the first kiss, the exchange of rings, or procession. Or a business event with awards being presented and each recipient shaking the hand of the CEO. Event attendees will probably get some decent photos of some of the important moments. A pro event photographer will capture all of these key moments, every time.
- If you’re relying on an attendee photographer, hopefully his battery doesn’t die, or she didn’t forget to insert the memory card, or there’s not some sort of technical problem with the camera. A pro photographer is going to arrive onsite with redundant and backup gear such that a problem while shooting won’t mean that you end up without photography for your event. Gear problems aren’t frequent, but they happen; just this past weekend I had a memory card issue in the middle of some group portraits at a wedding. I quickly swapped in a new card and all was well with no loss of images.
There’s nothing wrong with using attendee photographs as supplemental material; there are often some interesting images found on Instagram, Flickr, or Facebook after an event. But assuming you want solid photography that covers all aspects of your event, you ought to consider hiring a professional event photographer to create images that tell the story of your experience.