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Special event photography runs the gamut – from a room-packed swank evening to a small corporate gathering in a cramped meeting space. Whatever the situation, as the person hired to capture the moment, you have to know the ins and outs of this type of shooting. Regardless of the size or location of the event, your job is to make some amazing images. There are some simple little techniques that can make this type of photography much easier on yourself. Here’s a few ideas on how to prepare and execute the photography for the next event.


50% of event photography is preparation. The pre-shoot logistics will ensure you will always be prepared to get your best shots. Show up and be prepared for any type of situation.

1. Checklist

Have a standard checklist of all equipment you’ll need so it will be turn-key for each event.

2. Pre-Visualization

Ask whoever is running the meeting for a run down of events. Before you even leave the house, visualize what shots you want to take during the event.

3. Shot List

Go so far as to create a shot list of the “must haves” that your meeting contact has requested. 

4. Prepare for Bad Weather

If it’s an outdoor event, be sure you have coverage for you gear and a back-up plan for being able to capture the action.


5. Knowledge

Know your equipment inside out. You must know it so well that you don’t even think about it. This only comes from repetitive use and/or practice.

6. Confidence

Fake it to you make it they say. Even if you don’t have that much event experience, walk in with confidence and know one will know the difference.

12 Tips for Working Special Event Photography

During the Event

7. Dress for the Event

Make sure you know the dress attire so you blend in with the crowd and look like you belong. As the old saying goes, it’s better to be overdressed than undressed; go with a suit and tie and nice shirt underneath. The suit coat and tie (or for the women, a nice jacket) can always be removed if things turn out to be a bit more casual.

8. Work the Room

Ask the organizer whether they want you to blend in with the crowd or if you can be more assertive and move around a bit more. If it’s a large gathering in an enormous room with hundreds, or thousands of people, you’ll be able to easily move about and get tons of shots without worrying about drawing attention to yourself.

9. Shine a Light

Many affairs can be quite dark with only candle or low light to create a mood. Make sure you have enough flash power to get proper lighting for your shots.

10. Add Variety

Try to create a story from the event. Every event has a beginning, middle, and end. Take pictures of the space prior to the event and as everyone arrives. This will show the scale and timing of the event. Utilized your camera’s burst mode to maximize your shots. And don’t forget to bring extra memory cards!

12 Tips for Working Special Event Photography


11. Editing

Be sure to master a program like Lightroom so you can easily flag and edit the enormous amount of shots you’ll end up with. Don’t forget to use the Lightroom backup to save all your shots just in case.

12. Selling Prints to Guests

You may be able to negotiate the after-event sale to guests of extra prints. Be sure to ask the organizer prior to the event if this is okay. Use a program such as Fotomoto with LiveBooks to easily sell from your own site.

Photographing events may not be the most creatively fulfilling gig but it can be a great source of extra income. There are always events happening year round, whether it’s a corporate holiday party or a family reunion in the summer. You’ll be glad you learned the nuances of this type of shooting in the end. Remember to pre-plan, dress the part, get photos before the event as well as during it and edit quickly so you can give your clients a quick turn-around time. 

Cheryl Woods

Cheryl Woods is an accomplished photographer, designer and branding consultant with a career spanning 20+ years. Her photographic work includes editorial, fashion, portraiture and product photography for major companies in the consumer products field including QVC and Hanover Direct. She received a B.F.A. in Photography from the University of the Arts and an M.F.A. in Media Design from Full Sail University. Cheryl's work has been exhibited at the Lowes Museum of Art in Coral Gables, FL, The New York Independent Film Festival and the Rosenwald Wolf Gallery in Philadelphia, PA. Check out her website here!


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