I was recently chatting with someone about the issue of how to know when it makes sense to hire a professional event photographer (such as myself) versus when it’s okay to do it yourself, let your attendees take pictures, have a volunteer photographer, or otherwise make an informal plan that should be “good enough.”
I made an analogy to a potluck.
When you’re having an event and there’s going to be a meal, you have options. One option is to hire a professional caterer, who can provide a variety of consistent food options, accommodate dietary restrictions, and ensure that you don’t really have to worry about the food because in exchange for paying the caterer for their professional services, they take care of everything.
Another option is that you have a potluck, where attendees bring food to share. If you’re lucky, you can organize a registration system where folks can indicate what they’ll bring, and most of them will probably adhere to what they said. You might end up with more of one thing than you need, or a lack of something important… you can worry about this and take care of the gaps on your own, of course. It won’t cost you much money, because each guest will be expected to contribute, and most will… you’ll probably get some good food, but let’s be honest… a lot of the potluck food is going to fairly mediocre, and some is going to be downright bad.
It’s a lot the same with photography. When you hire me to shoot an event, I’ll gather some information from you and then you won’t have to worry about the photography. I’ll sweat the details and you’ll end up with consistent, good images.
Or… you can go the DIY route and find someone to do it non-professionally. They’ll probably get some good images. They’ll probably also give you a bunch of mediocre images, and some are going to be downright bad.
Either option can be the right answer depending on the event. Which is your crowd?