Most small businesses and nonprofits struggle with idea of hiring a professional photographer when they have an event. With limited budgets, it's hard for them to justify spending on anything that doesn't seem essential. So the bigger question at hand: are event photos essential? And the short answer is (an absolute) YES!
The real underlying issue is that companies and organizations are usually very limited in how they use their event photographs and therefore do not usually build any substantial photo budget into the event. Because of this, many times they resort to asking a photographer to work for free, either as a portfolio builder in exchange for exposure or pro-bono work in exchange for sponsorship benefits (being listed in the event's promotional materials). I can guarantee that an organization that gets free photos will most likely only use them in a social media post, which by the way, are highlighted on the internet radar for about 24 hours. And this is a huge missed opportunity for the organization.
There are multiple ways organizations can use their photos post-event (beyond simply creating a Facebook post with them) and throughout the year. It does influence the kind of photos taken, but there is real value of the photos and the opportunity an event presents in capture those photos they need the rest of the year.
cover images (social media, email)
board photo / leadership team photo
key stakeholder headshots
update website image
donor thank you's
next year's event promotions
The list could go on and on. The point is to think ahead, anticipating the stories you'll be telling and imagine the photos you'll be searching for to help tell them. Use each event to capture the photos you need throughout the year. Having professional photos will be an investment that you'll benefit from all year long. These photos will build your brand and tell your story. They'll begin to form a library for your marketing and communications. They'll amplify your messaging.
Hire a professional photographer and share those stories with them. Be clear in communicating your organizational message(s) with the photographer. Share the run of show with them, the list of guests of honor and the timing/agenda for the event. No need to create an ultra detailed shot list for them. A professional who knows the stories you want to tell will put themselves in the right place at the right time and be able to recognize your stories in the moment as they unfold. They will begin to match visual storytelling with the words you shared with them. And because they are authentic, you're sure to get pictures you'll use well after the event is over.
So go ahead, and invest in a professional photographer. Build a relationship with one. Include the photographer in the event briefing. Make him/her a part of your team. This ongoing partnership with your graphic designer and marketing point person will elevate your game. And turn a single event into ROI all year long.