By Peter Morey
When it comes to important corporate events, in my 33 years experience as a professional photographer, I've realised that few PR's and execs realise the importance of giving a good accurate brief to the photographer they commission for the job. Don't get me wrong, some of my best friends are PR's, but often they have so many other things to worry about that they simply don't know how or why to brief a photographer before that all-important event.
Even though I always spend time preparing all my equipment before each shoot to prepare for any eventuality, it would make things easier for everyone if a corporate client spends a few minutes compiling a brief and sending it to me beforehand. Firstly, remember that your whole function or event depends on the pictures you have taken, from capturing the important moments during the event, to the décor,layout and significant people attending it.
Some items on my wish list may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many of my corporate clients don't provide this information. Here is what my own brief 'wish list' would look like and in case you were wondering, it would be great to get this brief at least one week before the actual event!
1. Date, venue and time.
2. Approximate number of guests.
3. Guest list (I'm not being nosy, but you may have a couple of VIP's on your list and that is really important to know when I'm looking at photographic opportunities).
4. What is the aim of the event?
5. Will there be any surprise moments that will happen during the event? (Yes I do need to know if your CEO is going to leap out of a huge cake or abseil down your new building).
6. Approximate running sequence of the event programme and estimated duration of the event.
7. Do you have a band or musical performer? If so, how long they will be playing for.
8. Will I need to take pictures of large groups (15 or more people)…if so I’d like to view the venue beforehand and see where you want these pictures to be taken.
9. Are there any special moments that I need to be aware of and who needs to be in the picture? (Think cutting a ribbon, an award ceremony etc).
10. Lastly, is there anything unusual about the actual location I need to know about? If the event is to be held in a remote area at the top of a mountain or down a mineshaft it would help that I know what to expect.
Knowing the location is especially important. I like to do a recce of the venue beforehand wherever possible and to know where the most important pictures will be taken. It is very important to decide on and book your photographer at least one month before the event. The last thing you want to do is to leave this to the last minute and having to hire someone that is not equipped to do the job. It is very helpful if you can advise on what props or angles I can use to enhance your pictures as much as possible. This is especially important if you would your event to get some media exposure. I'll be looking for one picture that encapsulates exactly what your event is all about. Having a good brief helps us both, you'll be getting useful input you may not have thought of, and I'll be able to maximise my knowledge of photographic angles and conceptualisation skills to shoot the best possible pictures.
Event pictures can be used in a variety of ways, for example we are able to frame a montage of your favourite event pictures that will look great on your company wall or with our on-site framing services, as a branded gift for your guests to take home at the end of the event.
The main reason why you should brief a photographer beforehand is that you are likely to get a better end result. When pictures are well planned, you enhance the quality of your pictures and if media exposure is part of your objective, they will be more media-friendly.