WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. -- When planning your non-profit fundraiser, how you capture the big evening is almost as important as the event itself. Months after the last appetizer has been eaten and toast made, the night's photographs will live on.
For Jason Gardner, a New York-based professional photographer, how he shoots an event is just as important as what's being shot. "What I always do is ask the why, not the what," he said. "What is the ultimate goal and end result of this image? Knowing the image's ultimate purpose helps ensure the right image is captured before the night is through."
Gardner admits some event planners view photography as merely a line item on a budget list and don't seriously weigh the benefits in using an experienced cameraman. "Event photography can be viewed as a commodity, but I tell planners they're investing so much time and money in the event that it would be a shame not to document it in the best possible way," he said.
When searching for the right photographer, it's important to save the price discussion for later. "You should look at people’s work and can get an idea of who has better visual appeal," said Gardner. "If a client asks for rates, photographers already know what kind of client they are. You should find a style you find aesthetically pleasing and only then begin to discuss finances."
Once the photographer has been chosen, looping them in on the planning process can create some special shots. When a photographer is given advance notice, a shot list and has a chance to see the venue beforehand, they are able to let their creativity flow. "The more advance and background I get, the better I'm able to capture that story and share it with viewers," said Gardner.
Ultimately, selecting a photographer is as much about the person as it is the equipment, according to Gardner, who has 12 years of experience. "I’m not hired to press buttons. What differentiates a good photographer is the ability to ask questions, put subjects at ease, conduct research beforehand and know what’s important to the non-profit. This, in turn, makes the client’s life much easier," said Gardner.
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