Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Event Photography is not for the feint hearted


Anyone, and I mean anyone, who tells you that event photography is 'money for old rope' please, direct them to me for a chat.

Last week was the end of the school year, I had offered to go into the school and get some shots of the year 6 leavers. Now this was not to be a paid job, I was doing it for the school and for the PTFA. Plus I wanted an excuse to check out my workflow.  We had agreed to make a very small mark up on  the prices too, just a contribution to the PTFA fund. So, rather than go in with an expensive printer and all the kit required to 'print on the night' we simply took a grey backdrop, a couple of strobes with brollies for  very flat lighting (Keep It Simple Stupid) and a couple of cameras.

I ran into the school at 4pm set everything up in a class room (after moving all the furniture), had it all tested and functional within 45 minutes, then cleared off to get a bite to eat.

The party started at 6pm and ran through to 8pm The children were a little shy to begin with, but soon got into the swing of it and we had a non-stop stream of children wanting to be photographed in various poses and groups.  It took about 30 minutes to clear away, including putting all the desks back.

Images were then uploaded to a web based gallery for purchase by the parents and children the next day.

So, why 'not for the feint hearted' I hear you say?  Ok so lets break this down into the two areas that are needed to be a successful event photographer. Business skills - and lots of them. This was a 'not for profit' job. As a sole trader, I would have had to consider the cost of equipment, consumables, transport, insurance, taxes, wages, need I go on?
On top of that you have to be able to sell yourself, and your work - before the event, during, and after.  Business skills are key to becoming a successful enterprise - regardless of what you do.

Secondly - it pays to know how to handle a camera :)

A little flippant with the second comment? Not at all. An average photographer can make a lot of money with good business skills, sure, you need to know your arm from your F-Stop, but i can guarantee I could train you within a couple of hours with enough knowledge to 'get by'  The business side though? I am still learning that after three years.

Easy money? No - during those two hours, we worked not stop, 300 shots whilst being upbeat and chatty is hard work. And that was for a small event without the added stress of printing and selling at the same time. Scale that up to a a few hundred and an all day event and things start getting scary.