In a perfect case study for understanding Las Vegas Corporate Photography, I was contracted to cover the World Series of Poker for Bodog Poker between the years of 2007 to 2012. During this period, The World Series of Poker was huge. Drawing more that 72,966 contestants in 2010, the WSOP poker became a major draw for Harrah’s Casinos and Las Vegas. The tournament has been around since the early 70’s but when Harrah’s acquired the rights to the WSOP in 2004, they quickly marketed and expanded the tournament into a worldwide phenomenon. As a Las Vegas corporate photographer, this massive corporate event quickly became one of my favorite events to photograph and Bodog Poker a wonderful client to work with.
The WSOP encompassed all the most exciting aspects of being an event photographer, while also challenging professional skills and best practices needed to be a successful, professional event photographer in Las Vegas. I’ve broken this article up into multiple posts and will talk about what it took professionally, photographic skill wise, and what equipment was needed in order to provide my clients with the best service & imagery possible.
Part 1: Professionalism: The Key Ingredient in Las Vegas Corporate Photography
Professionalism: Making Things Easy for Your Client
In my opinion, professionalism is about making things easy for your client. I am going to demonstrate how that might work by sharing how my work with the World Series of Poker and Bodog started and progressed over the years I shot the event. Bodog was and is an online poker company based in the UK and who had a large presence in the poker scene from 2005 through 2011 despite constant changes in the law concerning online gambling. They eventually could not continue to legally operate in the United States but are still alive and well in the UK.
Why a Professional Website Helps Your Client
Bodog was able to find me from my well designed, page one ranked website for Las Vegas event photographer. (I hired a professional web designer; no way am I talented enough to do that on my own). Bodog’s marketing dept requested information through my contact page stating they liked the images on my website and were looking for a photographer with my skills and style. Having an easy to navigate, well placed professional website makes it easy for clients to find and contact you. An accurate and well-designed portfolio shows them what you can do and if your style and ability is a good fit for their needs.
It’s a Photographers Job to Understand What an Event Professional Needs
With an easy to use contact page, they were able to reach out to me with a simple request for availability and pricing. But a good website only goes so far if you don’t have a professional and timely response system in place. Responding to emails and/or phone calls in a timely manner is the next step. Carefully reading and listening to what your potential client’s needs is crucial. Your ability to reliably communicate, answer questions, and provide pertinent information creates trust. Event professionals are very busy. Quick, timely responses show that you respect and value their time.
Be Honest with Your Clients Expectations
With a quick response and timely information provided, Bodog quickly set up a phone call and we discussed a timeline in more detail. I was able to personally address their needs and provide advice as to what was possible and what was needed. As photographers we are also event professionals and we can provide a unique understanding and perspective in our own area of expertise. We have an obligation to set expectations on what can or can’t be done. Photographers are, by necessity, problem solvers but it is important to know the limitations of time, physics, and your own ability. Never tell a client you can do something unless you see a clear path to getting it done.
Answer Your Phone & Emails
I am going to side step just a bit and comment on the importance of answering your phone/emails. I hear from my clients and potential client on a regular basis thanking me for responding so quickly, answering the phone, providing estimates in a timely manner. To be honest, many times, the simple fact that I even answer my emails and phone calls has gotten me the job. This does not mean that I drop what I am doing and immediately respond to every email as it arrives. I make it a habit to respond to my emails twice a day providing well written, professional emails and responses to any inquiry and questions from past and current clients.
Offer to Help When Where You Can
In my communications with Bodog, they explained and asked me to secure press credentials so that I would be able to access all areas and activities during the WSOP’s week-long event in Las Vegas. Generally, this is something your client will handle for you but in special cases or if the client is small with a limited budget, they may ask for your help. In Bodog’s case it was not a budget issue, but it made sense for me to attempt to secure my own credentials. There were a few complications, but we stayed in contact with each other and after several attempts I was able to secure all access passes for myself and a second shooter. My client was appreciative of my efforts and I was able to make things a bit easier for them.
Flexibility Is A Critical Professional Skill
Flexibility is another important service you can provide as a professional event photographer in Las Vegas. The above example was just one way I could help my client and nurture a sense of trust in my ability to get the job done. Many times, the person that hires you will have multiple responsibilities and commitments to others. More often than not, they will have their own clients they are answering to and they will be relying on you to help them keep those customers happy. Your ability to be understanding and flexible to the needs of your client as well as others, is a critical professional skill.
Las Vegas Corporate Photography Is All About Flexibility
In our phone calls and subsequent emails and communications, a timeline of events and daily activities begin to emerge. I provided estimates and quotes based our initial conversations but as with most events, they constantly changed. As a corporate event photographer, you must be flexible and be prepared to adjust your schedule, sometimes at a moment’s notice in order to accommodate your clients’ needs. This doesn’t mean that you are at the total whim of a badly organized or unrealistically demanding client. It just means that change is a part of the business and as a professional event photographer, you need to account for adjustments in your planning and pricing to be able to meet your clients’ needs while protecting your own.
Make it Easy for Event Professionals to Hire You Again
A final note on making a client’s job as easy as possible when it comes to hiring and working with you as a professional corporate event photographer. Stay in touch with them throughout the year. Keep the lines of communication open. Bodog was and is a dynamic company and personal were changing roles constantly as the company grew and expanded. By reaching out to several members of the team several months before the next WSOP event, I was able to help by make it easier for them to hire and work with me again. Taking the initiative and not waiting for them to contact me made their jobs easier because I already understood the needs and was a trusted professional with proven skills and reliability they could count on.
You can take a look at my professional attire tips here:Event Photographer Las Vegas; Attire and Professionalism