How to Prep for an Event: 5 Foundations for Photographers

Whether you're a newbie, an enthusiast, or a pro photographer, being asked to cover an event can be overwhelming. Even for those who specialize in events, things can sometimes get nerve racking. After all, working with people is unpredictable—anything can happen! These important moments in your clients' lives only take place once, so every frame counts (especially if you're shooting film). That's why we’ve created a foundational list of what photographers should prepare before their next event.

Photo by A Bryan Photo


Make sure you and your clients are on the same page. Expectations and deliverables should be hashed out in advance to avoid confusion on the day of the event itself and disappointment afterwards. When you're both prepared, you can go through the event with fewer worries.

Having meetings with your clients should allow you and them to see eye-to-eye even on the most minor of details. If you have questions about what will happen during the event—the attendees, the program, the venue, and other details—this is your chance to clarify details with your client.

You can also clarify as much as possible by putting it in your contract. How many hours are you shooting for? When will they get digital images? When will their prints arrive? Will they get the negatives? Spell out as much as possible.

Building a rapport with your clients before a shoot is also a great way to get them relaxed and ready to be in front of the camera... grab some tips on how to get your subjects to strike a pose here.


Get a copy of the program/event schedule from the client in advance. Even if it's still a draft, it will give you an idea of the shots you need to take, the people you can focus on, and the time limits for doing so. If possible, research the venue in advance so you'll be able to move around comfortably on the day of the event.

Once you have an idea of how the event will play out and where things will be in the venue, it will be easy to come up with a task list and shot list. While there are many photographers with a ready-made list depending on the client and type of work, it would be good to modify this list to incorporate specific details and special requests. Creating a shot list is also a must. Even if photographers rely on their creativity, a shot list will help you make sure you've covered the basics. If you’re feeling less motivated or artistic, a shot list will help you come up with ideas. If a client has a specific request or their own creative vision, it’s best to put it on this list, too. If you're shooting film, a shot list can help you plan what stocks and speeds of film you'll need for different parts of the event.

Photo by Blenda Montoro


Here's a friendly reminder from the Richard team: before you head out to your next event, be sure that all your cameras, film, equipment, and other supplies are ready. This is especially important if you’ll be working alone or with a small team.

Check on the condition of your cameras well before heading out so that you have time to fix any problems. Are the batteries charged enough? Is your film sorted and easy to grab? Are the lenses clean? Are the lights ready? Before packing your kit and heading to the venue, consider these things. Bring extras in case of emergencies.

Need more info for getting your gear ready? Find five tips for maintaining your equipment here.


For photographers who lead a team, have assistants, or take on interns, it would be good to go into a huddle before the event. If possible, give them copies of the program, task list, and shot list so that everyone is in the know. Brief them on the client and the event. Discuss your roles and responsibilities before you officially start the work.

Prehaps the most important thing to do before diving straight into the job is encouraging your teammates so that they feel energized and appreciated as they carry out their specific tasks. If your team is happy, it will show in their work.


Whether you’re a newbie or a veteran in covering events, it always pays to be prepared. While your tools are essential, you should remember that you are the one who holds them. Going into work mode while you're exhausted, sleepy, sick, or hungry might affect your output. It might also affect how you interact with people and how you envision the shots.

Condition yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically before you go into professional mode. This looks different for everyone—it might mean doing yoga, cooking your favorite healthy meal, having a day of strictly "me" time, or just a good nap and a big ol' cup of coffee. However you prepare, facing your clients and the event with a clear mind and an energized body will allow you to give your best.

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