You're coordinating an event and want proof that it was the greatest event of all time. A professional event photographer or wedding photographer will blend seamlessly into your soiree to capture candid shots, group photos, decoration details, VIPs, red-carpet moments and more. Hiring a professional event photographer means having lasting memories of the day's most important moments — whether the event you're hosting is social, familial or business.
There's really no limit to what type of event a professional photographer can capture. Think big and hire an event photographer for birthday bashes, neighborhood block parties, concerts, corporate events, nonprofit fundraisers, life milestones, family reunions, sweet 16 parties, political rallies, children's celebrations, religious functions, sporting events, high school reunions and much more. Hiring an event photographer means that instead of carrying around a camera on the big day or delegating a family member or employee to try to get beautiful photos of all those critical moments, you can relax and enjoy your party.
Great photos are not just pretty pictures, but a way to market your brand. Most event photographers can shoot intimate events with fewer than 10 people or large parties with thousands of guests; it's all about finding someone with the experience, aesthetic and vibe that you like. Many things affect what professional event photographers and wedding photographers charge for their services, including whether the photographer is part of a small business or an independent photographer, what sorts of events they specialize in, how many photographers you need, and other factors.
Event photographers may charge a base hourly rate for their services, which goes up as different services are added to the job request. Other photographers may charge a set hourly rate that includes all services. The hourly rate a professional photographer charges often reflects the photographer's experience and training, reputation, geographic location, seasonal demand for their services, the complexity of the job, whether they are freelance photographers or part of a large photography business, and other factors. Always clarify what is included with the hourly rate, particularly whether it is solely for photographing the event or also includes the post-production (editing and retouching) work done after the event. The type of client you are and the type of event you are hosting can also affect the hourly rate. Some photographers may charge lower rates for personal events such as birthdays than for corporate events. Others may offer a package price or price range for services or types of events. If your photographer has worked with your specific event planner, you may also ask about special rates.
Number of photographers
If you're hosting a large number of guests or add on a lot of specialty services, you may need additional photographers or a photographer's assistant. For example, if you're organizing a corporate bash with 700 guests, you'll need more than one photographer to do justice to the event, especially if you have a red carpet or open-air photo booths. In contrast, a children's birthday with 20 family members will likely be a solo job. The additional services you request will also determine how many photographers you need. For social, corporate or networking events you may want a photographer's assistant live-posting event photos to Instagram or other social media outlets for marketing purposes. Your event photographer also may need an assistant if there are special lighting needs, such as for outdoor events held at twilight or indoor formal affairs.
Depending on the business, an additional photographer may cost the same hourly rate as the principal photographer, or their services may be included at a discounted rate. Photographers' assistants typically cost less per hour than a more seasoned photographer. Their main job is to make sure the principal photographer has everything they need at a moment's notice to ensure the best photos possible. Assistants typically handle lighting and equipment setup, and can also be used for operating open air photo booths, live-posting event photos to social media, and more.
Event photography can include so much more than just traditional photographs. Many event photography companies offer their clients the newest in technology and add-ons as well. Regardless of your demographic or party size, fun options include photo booths, social media services and videography. For large parties, consider including an open-air or enclosed photo booth. A photography assistant operates the booth, so guests don't need to do anything but have fun. Many photographers can provide photo booth props that fit your party theme. You can also request customized photo booth backdrops, green screens and more to personalize the photos for your event. Photo booths can print customized photo strips that serve as a branded party favor or memento for your guests. For example, you might have the event name and date, your company's name and logo, or the birthday girl's name emblazoned as a border around the printed photo strips. Some photo booths are also wired to connect with the internet, providing the ability to live-post photos directly from the photo booth during the event. Guests can tweet or share photos to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, using event hashtags to create a buzz for your brand or party. This is a fabulous marketing opportunity for corporate events, and a fun and interactive way to engage guests during private parties. Photography services that provide photo booths may include photo strip printing in the hourly rate or may charge extra for printed photos. If you don't want a photo booth, but do want professional photos live-posted to social media during the party, work with the event photography company to ensure a photographer's assistant is on the task. This can be negotiated into the contract.
If you want video memories of your 40th birthday celebration or your company awards ceremony, add videography services to your event photography package. Hiring a videographer through your event photography company means the professionals are working and editing together, creating a cohesive visual package for your personal keepsake or marketing purposes. Videographers can make short video reels that include highlights of the event, typically 3- to 5-minute videos that are perfect for sharing on your personal or marketing social media channels. Event videographers can make long-form videos that tell the story of the event, which are a wonderful keepsake for event honorees. You can also specify the video style you desire, from cinematic to documentary, depending on the tone of your event and how you will be using the video. If you're not sure where to start or what you need, consult with your event photographer on what services will be best for your gathering. As with traditional event photography, add-on services may have different rates depending on whether the event is personal or corporate. Other factors that affect the cost of add-on services include your geographic region, the original cost of the equipment (especially for photo booth services), time of year and day of the week, and company reputation. Here are some examples of average cost for add-on event photography services from an independent photographer in New Jersey:
- Personal event photo booth: $185 per hour for photo booth, photo booth assistant and all digital services.
- Personal event videography: Videography services for $165 per hour, including post-production edits. They offer a rate of $135 per hour for raw (unedited) video footage.
- Corporate event social media package: $225 per hour for immediate access to photos during your event.
- Corporate event photo booth: $250 per hour for photo booth, photo booth assistant, and all digital services.
- Corporate event videography: $195 per hour for one videographer, including post-production editing. The rate increases to $275 per hour for two videographers.
In contrast to wedding photography and commercial photography, much event photography is charged by the hour. Wedding photography pricing is often based on packages, and commercial photographers may charge for each digital image or for a day or half-day. Some photographers require an hourly minimum to account for the cost of their business overhead as well as the time and resources required to prepare and pack their camera equipment and travel to your event. Business overhead can include everything from liability insurance to marketing expenditures to the most up-to-date camera and lighting equipment. Hourly rates can vary depending on the type of event, your geographic location, the number of event guests, and the specific services provided. Some photographers charge a lower rate per hour for longer engagements. Here are typical average national rates:
- Two-hour minimum at $150 per hour
- Every hour thereafter is $100 per hour
- This pricing includes a single location and 14-day access to 50 digital images in an online gallery
To find the right event photographer, search online for image styles you like. Once you know the style you're looking for, start reviewing the portfolios of event photographers near you and reading customer reviews. Look for someone whose aesthetic you like and who has experience working with your kind of event. Next, make sure you are compatible with the person — especially for smaller, personal events. Once you've identified a good candidate, discuss their pricing and services. Be clear on the number of edited and/or unretouched photos you'll receive for the price. Confirm whether the photos will be delivered in print, as a digital file or in an online format, and whether you'll own the usage rights or need to license them. What looks like a very low rate upfront may actually cost more in the long run if you have to pay per photo for downloads or prints. Clearly outline the project time frame, from the number of hours they'll be at the event to the date by which they'll deliver the final product. If you'll use the photos for marketing purposes, make sure copyright issues are addressed in the contract. After all the details of the contract have been covered, secure your event photographer with a deposit and make sure that the detailed contract is signed by both parties. To ensure you get the results you want, here is important information — beyond the contract basics — to provide to the event photographer:
- A "shot list" of must-capture moments and people
- Specifics of how the photos will be used — on social media, on your website, or printed and framed to hang in the office, for example — to inform the event photographer's equipment choices
- Any guests or moments that you _don't _want captured
- How you'd like the photographers and assistants to dress for the event — formal, all black, etc.
For events that take place in more than one location — such as a mobile bachelorette party or an anniversary dinner followed by a surprise reception party — hire a professional photographer to capture the whole night. If you're planning a multi-stop event that you want photographed, good communication with the photographer is key. You, or your event coordinator, should share precise timelines and itinerary with the pro. They should know exactly where to be at what time, as well as having a shot list of important photos you want captured. For a surprise proposal followed by a secret engagement party, the event photographer will need to know proposal positioning and timing to capture those perfect shots. To photograph multiple locations, the photographer will either charge a set travel fee or charge more per hour overall. The increased costs cover their additional time, mileage and transportation costs.
Advanced editing technology, specialized lighting and photography equipment, and high-end cameras often produce sharper results — and also add to overall costs to clients. To stay at the top of their field, professional event photographers need to continually invest in up-to-date equipment. This gives you the high-end images you want for your event marketing or personal party memories. High-end professional cameras can start around $6,000 and range up to $30,000 or more, depending on the brand and features of the camera. In addition, event photographers need multiple professional camera lenses to take different kinds of shots. A new camera lens might range anywhere from $1,000 up to $2,000 or more, depending on the manufacturer and specifications. Experienced photographers will have different pricing models depending on their specialties. Food photographers, commercial photographers or wedding photographers may have very specialized equipment and event offerings that you can also select a la carte.
Every industry has its superstars, and professional photography is no different. Renowned photographers and those who have worked with famous clients often command higher hourly rates. When you're hiring a photographer for your event, consider what you will use the photos for and what level of quality you need. For a corporate client that will use the event photos for large-scale marketing campaigns or a newly revamped website, it may pay to invest in a big-name photographer. On the other hand, you may be able to save by choosing a talented but lesser-known event photography company. Regardless of the company's brand recognition, it's important to read recent client reviews and ask for references. You want to work with an event photographer who will invest time, energy and love into creating a beautiful product for you or your company. In addition to reputation, photographers in areas with a higher cost of living typically charge more per hour.
Number of images
The total number of images you want the professional photographer to capture and deliver will determine how many photographers are needed and the overall cost to photograph an event. Taking more photos at a large event will require more photographers on hand. And the more images that are taken at the event, the more time will be required to edit and color-correct the photos that are finally delivered. Ask your photographer to help you decide on the appropriate coverage for the event and how many images potential clients typically want to receive. Confirm whether you can request to have additional images processed later if you decide you want more, either as part of the package or at an additional cost.
- Before signing the contract, be sure to ask what is included in a photographer's fees, and make sure you understand everything.
- Ask what rights you have to the images and whether you can reprint them or share them on social media.
- Read client reviews and follow up with references to make sure you're choosing the right pro for your photography project. For more, check out our tips for smart hiring.