A good friend of mine works for a leading European events company, responsible for summoning the organizational and logistical know-how required to give smooth operation to those huge product launches or corporate events that all seem so effortlessly flung together. Recently, he told me that a major telecommunications client was throwing a thank-you bash for its top customers. Champagne would flow, acrobats would fly through the air, and contortionists would … well, contort.
The shocking factor was not the elaborate grandeur of the event — but the company’s decision not to hire a professional photographer to cover it.
Let’s Have Johnny Do It
The client’s in-house event organizer told my friend that she had a keen amateur photographer on her team (we will refer to him as Johnny) and that she would ask Johnny to provide full coverage.
Sounds like a reasonable decision, right? In these difficult economic times, savings are savings. And it is, after all, just “taking pictures.”
Eventually the night came, the champagne flowed, the acrobats flew and the contortionists contorted. Johnny ran from the tables to the stage throughout, sweating, his complexion increasingly ruddy, demonstrating visible signs of a cardiac event — which was not the type of event intended.
Sadly, all of Johnny’s efforts were in vain. The images were badly exposed, badly composed and just all round bad. For the most part, they were unusable.
The Real Cost of Using Johnny
Although the company planner didn’t realize it, she was taking a big risk — right up there with the acrobats’ high-wire act — by choosing Johnny.
Johnny may have been an excellent amateur photographer, but he was not a professional. A good professional has experienced awkward lighting, moving subjects and capturing the spirit of an event before, knowing exactly what to do to get the best possible images.
The saddest thing about the episode was the telecom company had spent more than $40,000 on the event, but had hardly any images for use in PR, marketing or even for plain old posterity.
A pro photographer would have cost in the range of $700 to $1,500 for the whole evening and subsequent postproduction. The images produced could have been used to create more business — and also would have been a great gift for attendees. Those photos would have lasted much longer than the drunken memories of the evening.
Avoiding the Boss’s Wrath
Digital cameras have brought about a devaluation — or at best an under-appreciation — of professional photography among prospective photography clients. What was once the domain of the skilled professional has been opened up by the very accessibility of the digital format.
This has left too many clients to ask themselves, “If I can take a picture on my mobile phone, pop it into Photoshop and get a serviceable result, why do I need to hire a pro?”
The answer is simple. A professional photographer delivers reliability, experience and the technical knowledge required to ensure that what’s being photographed is portrayed in the best possible light.
Which means that you won’t have to face the wrath of your boss when the photos from that $40,000 event just don’t turn out as planned.