Event Photography Workflow
My event photography workflow in an overview... (All pictures can be clicked and thus enlarged at the end of the article.)
Long Time Preparation
This step could also be called "pre-production I". There are four fields I think are worthy to consider:
- The event itself
- Photo points and consequences on your equipment
- The office side of these things
The first thing to consider are the requirements of the customer, what do they need? What story should be told? What brand(s) (the event brand but also sponsors) should be represented? Which pictures are an absolute must? Although it's very early to use one, sometimes a mood board can help to answer some of these questions.
Then I would have a first look at the location or in the case of a bike/running competition at the course. At this point (you don't even have a contract so far, do you) this can happen in a kind of loose way but it's still important as this will influence your calculation... You have to know whether you have all the necessary equipment or what the cost of the rent would be, whether you can access all places you have to and so on.
Based on these facts you can calculate everything, write an offer and (hopefully!) sign a contract.
In case you only have a loose idea of where you want to take what kind of photos, this would be the time to study GPS tracks, maps, Google Earth and download the essential information you can find about the event. You will want to know who will be there (and who you have to keep an eye on) and the estimated times the athletes will need on the course. This can be a quite time-consuming process...
This would also be the time, when, if needed, you would have to start a specific workout programme tailored to the needs of the event (think about endurance training or also working on your skills for the type of sport you will need to do to shoot the event).
Short Time Preparation
This step could also be called "pre-production II" and it starts maybe two or one weeks before the event. That's the moment I keep checking up to five different weather apps. (I always root for nice weather but I love the intensity of bad weather event shots too...)
- Clothing, sunscreen, food/drinks, first aid kit, bike repair kit (if you will use a bike)
- Requirements of customer
- Which pictures are a must
- Photo points
- Photos or previous editions
- Get enough sleep/stay healthy
This is also the moment to go through all of your equipment to know if everything is functional, the batteries are charged, you have enough memory cards, how could you protect your gear against the elements...? Often I work out a detailed plan of the shots I would like to take and what I will need photography-gear-wise. This is especially important if you're not taking all your gear with you all day long but would like to go as light as possible and store some of the gear somewhere. Additional to photography gear it is also important to think about extra clothing you will need, sunscreen (it has happened to me once that I forgot to bring a hat and suffered from sunstroke after the event), food and drinks and a first aid kit (I haven't used the kit so far during an event but my first aid knowledge already more than once). Depending on the event, I write a detailed plan when I will use my car when an e-bike, gondolas or my feet to reach a photo point. Don't forget the coins for the parking!
The short time preparation also includes again the requirements of the customer and the clarification of the very last questions about these. Have there been any changes? You should have a very clear idea about your "must-haves" now and how to shoot them.
Depending on different factors, you will decide whether you will bring one or two cameras (I mostly bring two because of redundancy).
If possible I will do a location scouting even if I have already been to the region. In some cases, I will have a rough idea where I will take a picture, in others I will have a very precise idea which rocks or flowers will make it into the picture. I will check these ideas with an app like PhotoPills to see where the sun will be at an estimated time of the day. I will also look out for little streams or puddles because these, combined with a bike rider or a runner, always make an interesting picture.
The short time preparation is also the right time to look at photos of previous editions and see what could be improved picture-wise.
Then it's important to get enough sleep and stay healthy...
A screenshot of the PhotoPills app which helps you to know (apart many other things) where the sun will be at a given time (violet-red-yellow line).
The best decision in such weather is to shoot out of a tent... (Swiss Irontrail, 2016)
Like here... (Swiss Irontrail, Davos, 2015)
Pack some duct tape and cord to fix everything... (Swiss Irontrail, 2015)
Carbohydrates are important... (Swiss Alpine Marathon, Davos, 2017)
That backpack is big! (Swiss Alpine Marathon, Davos, 2017)
Event – make it happen!
One or multiple days...
- Shoot must-haves, find creative angles
- Remember your plan, follow your timetable
- Organize your equipment
- Look around
- Be friendly to everybody
- Tag best pictures on the camera
When you're shooting an event and don't stay in one place your time is very limited. Therefore I try to always shoot the must-haves first and if there is more time I try to find more creative angles (which obviously can be prepared to a certain degree). During the event, I normally don't look at my plan very often but as I have worked on it for hours beforehand, at this point I will have memorized most things. When you rely on means of transport which only run every quarter of an hour or less, sticking to your timetable is very important!
Organizing the equipment means that you can go pretty light but also that you try to keep everything clean and functional.
Shooting events can be quite stressful so I think it's important to remind yourself to breath, eat and drink because the days are long and you want to stay on top of your game. Being well fed and hydrated is crucial to look around, see interesting things, develop new creative ideas and not injure yourself while on the course too. I think it's also important to be friendly to everybody because it will make your and everybody else's experience so much better!
If you're like most event photographers you will go through your pictures quite a few times during the event so why not tag the best ones directly on the camera? Programs like Photo Mechanic allow you to import these tags to your computer which makes the selection for social media much quicker. (And Photo Mechanic will be much quicker than e.g. Lightroom.)
Sometimes I also send some pictures from my camera to my phone and then to my client during the day. These photos can be shared on social media immediately.
One of the most exciting moments of a sports event and a clear must-have picture... (ASVZ Sola relay run, Zurich, 2018)
Often I think the spectators are more committed when the weather is bad... (ASVZ Sola relay run, Zurich, 2017)
Storytelling... (Engadin Bike Giro, 2018)
I go where I know it will be difficult for the competitors, not to blame them but on the contrary to show how bravely they mastered all the elements. (Engadin Bike Giro, 2018)
Nice weather during the event... (ASVZ Sola relay run, Zurich, 2018)
Wow! We made it... (ASVZ Sola relay run, Zurich, 2017)
I often try to include special local elements into my pictures, as here the cows... (Engadin Bike Giro, 2018)
Carrying your bike probably isn't your favourite thing at a competition but afterwards you will be even more proud of your achievement... (Engadin Bike Giro, 2018)
Emotions... (ASVZ Sola relay run, Zurich, 2018)
Prizegiving with the Dala Horse during pouring rain... (ASVZ Sola relay run, Zurich, 2017)
Water is always looking good in pictures... (Engadin Bike Giro, 2018)
Everything ok! (Engadin Bike Giro, 2018)
After the event
- Import pictures to computer and backup
- Calibrate your monitor
- Control your equipment
- Take notes for next events
- Thank for the assignment
- Write an invoice
- Look forward to next assignments