Making Your Event Photography Shine

Posted on January 18, 2016

WJZ_4060Your fund-raising gala was a smashing success and you want to share it with the world. But you look through your photos of the event, and none of them seem to capture the excitement of the evening. The mood lighting that created such a special atmosphere just looks dark on your photos. And the only photo you have of your guest of honor is a blurry profile shot.


Social media sharing has made good event photography more important than ever, but too many organizations still leave it to chance, often relying on employees’ digital cameras or cell phones to capture the event. An experienced photographer with the right equipment and team can make sure your photos shine as brightly as your event. But no matter who is taking your photos, planning ahead is a must.


This year marks the ninth year I’ve been lead photographer for the Children’s Foundation Gala in Minneapolis, which regularly draws more than 1,000 attendees. Over the years, the organization planners and I have learned a lot about how to get great event photos. Here are some questions I’ve learned to ask in advance to make sure I get my clients the photos they need:

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  • What’s going to happen at the event? Will there be a sit-down dinner? Entertainment? A silent auction? Speeches? Ideally, you should give your photographer a script or program that lists all the events and times to ensure you have photographic coverage of all the important happenings. Let me know where the event will be held and how many people generally attend as well, so I can pull together the right team and equipment.
  • What are your “must take” photos? This includes not only the activities but the people you want to make sure get photographed. Early in my relationship with Children’s Foundation, a staff member stayed by my side the entire evening to point out people they wanted photographed. Now they put colored symbols on the name tags of people that are important to capture with a photo.
  • How will you use the photos? How you plan to use the photos affects not only what the photographer shoots, but how and when the photos are delivered to you.
    • Social media or website: If you’re using the photos online, you’ll want the photographer to send you a digital file of low-resolution photos for faster loading. If you want a few photos to post on Facebook the night of the event, let the photographer know. If they’re a professional, they can likely do a quick crop and retouch if necessary and send some photos to you immediately.
    • Print publications: This might be for an annual report or submissions to a magazine’s event page. This requires higher resolution photos or the photos can look grainy or muddy.
    • Gifts: Children’s Foundation has us take table-side photos of individuals or couples who have sponsored a table. I send the Foundation prints, which they use in their thank you notes after the event.
    • Promotion: Think ahead and get some photos that can help you promote next year’s event – maybe some typical silent auction items?


Discuss this information with your photographer well in advance, and you’ll barely have to give photography another thought on the night of the event. And you’ll leave knowing that you’ll have photos worthy of the time and energy you’ve put into your successful event.

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