It's okay. We all make mistakes, at some point. After all, nobody's perfect. But when it comes to choosing an event photographer, meeting planners need to be armed with the best possible information to help them avoid making a choice that they'll regret later on. Sometimes the regret is immediate, and the ramifications obvious. Other times the damage of the poor choice is being done in the background, affecting future business, unbeknownst to the planner. Southwick Images strives to provide its clients with the very best, and that includes not just the photographs, but the service before and after the event. Part of that service is providing potential clients with the critical information they need to make an informed decision, when it comes to choosing their event photographer. To aid in that effort, let's cover the five mistakes for meeting planners to avoid.
1. Your Only Focus Is Price
Let's get the "elephant in the room" out of the way first. Price. It's understandable, to a degree. Much of what's done in the event realm is handled via the RFP process. That may work well, for tangible items, such as meeting space, sleeping rooms and hotel chicken. But when it comes to event photography, no two photographers are alike (in a manner of speaking). If you ask three different photographers to quote any given event, you're likely to get three very different quotes. But even if you get numbers in the same general ballpark, the results would likely be very different, if you were to have all three shoot the same event. For instance, you'd likely get a different number of total images from each. Also, some photographers just hand you SOOC (Straight Out Of Camera) images, meaning images with no retouching or post processing, whatsoever. There may be licensing differences between the various photographers (Did you know that just because you hire a photographer it doesn't mean that, by default, you own the copyright to the images?). Some may shoot full frame, others may shoot crop sensor. What's the difference? Why does it matter? Believe me - all of that matters (and if a photographer tells you it doesn't, they're not being honest with you).
While price certainly has to be a factor, it should not be the only factor, when selecting an event photographer. If you're hanging the hopes of successfully documenting your client's event on the lowest bid, you're playing with fire, and we all know what eventually happens, using that formula. Get in the habit of slowing yourself down a bit and opening up to a conversation with prospective photographers. Ask questions about their background in the field, how they started, why they do it, and so on. There's more, which we'll cover in the coming points.
2. You Haven't Compared Portfolios
Assume price was your main motivator, but you did get three quotes. Did you look at the portfolios of each photographer? You'd be surprised how many people don't. I've had event planners tell me, "Oh, I already work with <insert photographer name here>, and they're great!" Yet when I invite them to look at my work, just so they have another option (maybe their usual guy is booked), I often hear, "Oh, wow! Your photos are amazing!" And voila, the door swings open. At that point, I usually take a look at the other photographer's website, and I'm sometimes shocked at what I see. I try not to bash other people's work, and I'll never call anyone out specifically, so I'll just say this: You really, really need to make sure you're comparing portfolios, before you hire your event photographer. I've seen the home pages on the websites of "professionals" that should be immediate red flags, before you even get to a portfolio, and yet, planners will hire them. Why would you hire someone who takes substandard photos? Sure...it's a blunt question. But I see it, and I have to ask why. Be sure you are taking the time to compare work. You'll be glad you did.
3. You're Not Having An Actual Conversation About Your Event
Don't hide behind email. I know. It's too easy to do. You get too busy, or maybe you just don't like talking on the phone all that much. This ties back into the tail-end of my first point. You've got to have a conversation about your event. You need to ask questions, and you need to hear what your prospective photographer has to say. While it's just as easy for you to hide behind email, it's equally as easy for somebody to hide important information from you in an email reply. Get talking. Communicate. There's a lot of information that needs to be discussed. Digest that information. You'll be much happier with the outcome, I assure you.
4. You Chose Them Because Your Friend Referred Them*
See the asterisk? I put that there to make sure you know there's a disclaimer with this one. Of course, referrals are a good thing. I'm not suggesting that they aren't. I ask for referrals. But don't rely solely on a referral when choosing a photographer. You still need to consider the other factors, in addition to any referral. Why? Well, what if your friend has a little side deal with the photographer? What if the photographer raised his rate to cut the friend in on a piece of the action? What if the friend really meant well, but just had no eye for good photography? It happens. No harm intended, right? Yet your client could end up with a collection of terrible photos, and then who'll take the heat - you, or your friend? Again - referrals help, but you still need to do your due diligence.
5. You're Not Taking Your Usual Photographer With You On The Road
Here's a not-so-big secret: photographers don't mind traveling. Well, at least this photographer doesn't. I work with my clients to make travel make sense. Why? Because I never want them to worry about who's going to capture their events when they're on the road (and it's good business). A good corporate event photographer will be creative, not just behind the camera, but when it comes to working with clients on a travel budget. If you work with Southwick Images, Southwick Images will work with you. We work together as a team. That's another reason why my clients choose to work with me. I'm not just some obscure entity they receive an invoice from, on occasion.
To reiterate, we all make mistakes. Hopefully this helps those in the event planning community sharpen their skills a bit, when it comes to hiring an event photographer. Of course, I hope that you'll take a good look at Southwick Images, especially if you're in the Atlanta area. If you take a good look at my work, and speak to some of my clients, I'm confident you'll like what you see and hear. If you have an upcoming event you'd like to discuss, you can contact me by clicking here.