Should You Hire a Photographer for a Colorado Meeting?

By Beth Buehler

There are a lot of moving pieces when managing a meetings budget. It’s similar to remodeling a home as there are choices regarding the must haves, things that can be scaled back, and optional items that can be set aside for “if the budget allows” conversations.

It’s pretty easy to guess the must haves, things like lodging, venue, food, transportation, speakers and audiovisual. Where it gets murky is in the “if the budget allows” category; this list will vary based on type of meeting, attendees, content, expectations and more. Photography usually ends up in this category, so let’s walk through some thoughts about if you should hire a photographer for your Colorado meeting or not. It really boils down to how the photos will be used.

Hire a photographer if …

You plan to submit photos to media outlets. They typically need crisp photos that are high resolution and take into account the lighting of the scene at hand. Amateur photos typically don’t hold up in the pages of magazines, but there are some exceptions. Destination Colorado always takes professional photos of its Front Range Trade Show and annual meeting, held on the same day in December.

Josh Gold Photography captured scenes from Destination Colorado’s annual trade show, plus there was a photo booth for attendees!

The photos will be used on websites, social media, advertising and marketing materials. As a side note, make sure to have this worked out in a contract with the photographer.

Images from a conference will be used in a slide show at a closing dinner, reception or during breaks.

When the photos will be used as gifts for attendees. I have received framed photos of a raft trip and dinner at a historic fort in my hotel room during a meeting that have found places in my home for many years after.

Award applications accompanied by photos will be submitted for the event. For example, Imprint Group, a Denver-based destination management company, has successfully landed several awards for National Jewish Health events.

hire a photographer

Great photography was an important part of Imprint Group’s successful awards application for National Jewish Health’s Beaux Arts Bollywood Ball. Photo by David Ingraham.

Your boss wants top-notch photos!

A photographer may not be needed …

If there won’t be a specific use for the photos other than casually sharing with attendees and meeting partners.

For every aspect of a meeting or event. Instead, choose just one or two highlights, like a Taste of Colorado opening reception, awards dinner, or on-mountain dinner with a patio cocktail party. Taking photos of people sitting in an opening session or breakouts can be boring unless they are highly interactive and involve fun props.

If it’s a small retreat that doesn’t need documenting.

If photographing an event will feel intrusive to the purpose.

When photographers are already there to capture people enjoying activities such as skiing and rafting. Ski resorts and rafting outfitters hire a photographer who is stationed for this reason.  Just know where your people need to pass buy and provide an opportunity for them to see the photos.

If photos are simply needed to document the event for internal or planner use to show how rooms were set and decorated, food stations placed, and more. Smart phone photography will work fine.

When there is a staff member or volunteer who is a great photographer and has the right equipment.

hire a photographer

The Southern Colorado Chapter of HSMAI held a beach party in Colorado Springs that was successfully captured with great photos by member Eric Sprinkle.

For casual posting on social media and blogs.

Three examples

I’ve been to events like the Colorado Governor’s Conference on Tourism where it doesn’t really make sense to hire a photographer, as a staff member with a quality camera takes photos of award recipients during a gala dinner. These work fine for the Colorado Tourism Office’s e-newsletter and for sending to media.

On the other hand, the Meetings Industry Council of Colorado Education Conference and Trade Show has a photographer on hand for most of its event from general sessions and breakouts to the trade show and receptions. This is handy for sharing with attendees and sponsors, using on MIC’s website use, etc. and allows me as editor of Colorado Meetings + Events to feature a page of conference photos in the Snapshots section of the magazine.

hire a photographer

A glimpse of entertainment during the MIC of Colorado Educational Conference & Trade Show. Photo by All Digital Photo & Video.

At the Colorado Meetings + Events Best of Colorado awards, which is one event on one night, we always make sure to have a professional photographer capturing the setting, decor, food, award winners and crowd mingling. Attendees and winners like to share the photos, we post them on Facebook, and I always use them in our pages.

hire a photographer

One of the award winners at Colorado Meetings + Events’ Best of Colorado. Photo by Flashbox Photo Booth.

I’m a huge fan of quality photography, so in an ideal world would always have a professional photographer at events and appropriate meetings. But budgets are the real reality check, so use these tips to filter out the options.

Beth Buehler is editor of Colorado Meetings + Events and Mountain Meetings magazines, has planned numerous meetings and events and enjoys exploring Colorado.