“Why should I pay your rates when I can hire somebody who likes taking photos with their camera, but isn’t a professional, and will only charge $60/hour?” ….


That was a question recently posed by a potential client’s event planner – an industry professional.

I know why I have set my rates at certain price points (and will discuss a little further on), but the question led to me informally polling some of my own clients, and other industry professionals as to some of their lessons learned/challenges encountered with hobby photographers.

“Ugh, we got 2000 photos <one night event>, I didn’t have time to go through them all to find good ones, I just gave up.”

“Tons of pics with just the backs of people’s heads.”

“10 copies of virtually the same photo. I had to figure out which one was the best. Do you know how hard that is?”

“All, and I mean ALL, images were provided in a video. I couldn’t pull any for print and wasn’t given the originals.”

“None of the images were high enough resolution to print.”

“Nobody was smiling. It looked like everyone hated the day, but I have lots of feedback saying guests enjoyed that event.”

“We got virtually no photos. It rained that day and the ‘building their portfolio, free photographer’, didn’t want their camera to get wet”.

So, how does a professional photographer help address those issues, and contribute to the success of your event?

Being an event photographer isn’t just about attending and shooting an event. It’s about interacting with your guests and ensuring they have an overall positive experience.   Understanding people; knowing where to look, and when people are going to laugh, is a huge part of showcasing energy and enjoyment. A photographer must feel comfortable interacting with everyone from serving staff to CEO, or Prime Minister to Prince. As the client, you want images that encourage future event attendance. ‘Oh look how much fun they had! We have to go next year!’

HRH – The Prince Edward sharing a laugh with Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Lois Mitchell

Challenging conditions are the photographer’s responsibility. A professional photographer has backup gear, like rain gear. They also have the experience and skill to work through ever changing lighting conditions and the ability to develop and/or work with a client/planner’s contingency plan.

Rain should never deter an event photographer…

Professional photographers sort the images for you, selecting only the best. As an example, I was recently hired as the professional photographer for a four-day conference, complete with multiple speakers, a tradeshow, and three separate parties. This event produced close to 2000 images. Twelve hundred photos were lightly edited (to create a more flattering crop or give a little boost of colour, or adjust a white balance that doesn’t glow with unflattering fluorescence) and delivered. These images were also separated by day and activity. The images removed weren’t necessarily ‘bad’ (although we all miss shots, or a guest walks through as you snap), but when somebody frowns mid-shot, or puts food in their mouth, or has a very unflattering expression, no matter how technically perfect the image, no one appreciates that photo. Did you know speakers have an incredible array of facial expressions – and they often close their eyes? Achieving a flattering image may take 10 to 20 snaps. (My record is now 48!)

Guest speaker: Arlene Dickinson (Dragon’s Den)

All images should be available to the client in high and low resolution in order to aid with future marketing material such as programmes and guides (high resolution). Low resolution helps make your social media and web postings easier. Free online galleries help attendees view, and share, all the fun they had.

RATES! I cannot comment on a hobby photographer’s hourly rate, but can tell you a professional event photographer has backup cameras, lenses, memory cards, and image storage solutions. The professional has business licenses, professional memberships (like MPI, ILEA, Calgary Bridal Alliance), liability insurance, vehicle insurance and vehicle operating expenses. They also have software to aid photo editing, as well as the capability to create and upload attendee galleries – so you, the client, won’t have to.   The professional photographer has taken care of fees for cloud storage and apps like Dropbox. (You may use the free version of these apps, but the paid versions allow for long term storage and recovery). This ensures that even if your hard drive crashes, your Dropbox is full, or you have a change of staff and can’t find, or access, the photos, the professional photographer can help you out.


It is important to remember that photography is the professional’s livelihood whether it seems like an ‘easy job’ or not. Photography is physically demanding. Like an event planner, a photographer spends multiple hours on their feet, walking 5 to 10 miles per day at an average conference – usually with 10 to 15 pounds of gear on their shoulders.

Next time your client asks what a professional event photographer can do for them, remind them why we are a key component of the event partnership.

To book Photos with Finesse for your upcoming event, send an email to smcevoy@photoswithfinesse.com with the following details of your event:

Corporate Events: 

  • Contact Name
  • Contact Phone Number
  • Event Date(s) & Time(s)
  • Event Location
  • Estimated # of Guests
  • Is this for a registered Not-For-Profit organization?