Brief encounter…

Photography is everywhere – we are a visual bunch and the temporary nature of events means that photography is essential to record our efforts. The standard of photography has improved over the last decade but it is still lacking. One of the main reasons is a poor or non-existent brief. A clear brief will ensure that you get lots of usable images; in the right format and in the timescales you need them.


Start with some background about the event, why you need the photographs and how they will be used. Do you have images of past events to show your photographer: what worked and what didn’t?

Find images that have inspired you to convey the style you require. Do you need the venue to look empty and perfect or bustling with happy delegates? Do you want delegates deep in conversation, studiously engaged with the presentation or conducting business? Would you like lots of shots of the networking drinks, but minimal of the chairman’s speech – or vice versa?

Set your expectations early on. Be clear about the number of photographs you expect to receive, and do you need landscape or portrait? A good portrait shot could make it on to the cover of a magazine – while landscape ones may not work. Which file format do you require – jpeg or tiff? Agree the copyright, usage terms and the intended period of use.

Will the event be indoors and/or outdoors and is there a bad weather plan? Will there be sufficient natural light or is additional lighting needed? If it looks like a complex shoot, arrange for the photographer to view the location in advance.

Include the start and finish times and the length of the shoot, allowing set up time and agreed costs if the shoot overruns. Will your photographer have a ‘base’ – an office with a desk with power for them to process the photographs while still on site and to store equipment?

Agree a realistic deadline for receipt of the images. You may require a small selection of images the next day for press and social media, and these can be easily provided if agreed in advance. If some of the images are required for use during the event, plan in advance and provide a quiet room with a desk and power and at least an hour of uninterrupted down time to process the images. And before you employ anyone, make sure they have adequate personal liability insurance.

On site
If you’ve not met or worked with the photographer before, meet in a quiet place before the event and read the brief together to ensure it’s understood. Once the event is underway, meet up after an hour so you can see the images captured so far and check the brief is being followed and the style is as agreed.

Post event

A good de-brief is essential. What went well, did anything go wrong? Was the brief followed? Did you get the shots required? If you have followed this advice and set your brief well, you should not be disappointed. But if you didn’t, then you really have no grounds for complaint.

This was first published in the April issue of CN. Any comments? Email Paul Colston

Paul Colston


Paul Colston

Managing Editor, Conference News & Conference & Meetings World.

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