What is Las Vegas Event Photography: A primer for Photographers

Vegas Event Photographer

What is Vegas Event Photography: A Primer for Photographers  

Vegas event photography can encompass every form of photography imaginable. As a Las Vegas event photographer for over 15 years, I cringe at the cliché, however, I really have seen and shot it all. In any given large Vegas event, I have found myself shooting a number of photographic disciplines requiring a variety of skills, techniques, and equipment:

  • Commercial photography
    • Editorial photography
    • Sports photography
    • Food photography
    • Concert photography
    • Corporate headshots
    • Journalistic photography
    • I’m sure there is more…

Sound fun and challenging? Well, it is and the fact that every event is unique with a variety of challenges has kept this photographer on his toes and learning new things at every Vegas event I shoot. But what exactly is Vegas event photography or for that matter event photography anywhere else. I’m about to give you a quick primer on event photography.

Of course, it helps, if you interested in becoming an event photographer, to be where the events are. Vegas, Orlando, San Francisco, New York, (maybe Seattle?) These are the biggies however events of all sizes can be found in your local as well. Honestly, you may have to combine it, as many do, with Weddings or another discipline, but events can be very lucrative, fun and challenging for a new or experienced photographer. From grand openings to headshots, job fairs, fun runs and charity events, there are all kinds of “events” that may need your skills and are willing to pay you for them.

Night Club Cocktail Hour Event In Las Vegas

Event Photography. Who Does the Hiring?

In event photography, we see a world of people and companies looking for quality photography to showcase their products, people and events. Whether for internal or external use, trades magazines, advertising, website or social media, professional event photography is in demand more than ever and events are a great way to tap into some of that need. So exactly who might hire you and be working with you during Vegas event photography assignments? Here is just a small list:

  • Event planners
  • Marketing companies
  • Social Media Groups
  • Trade Publications and National Media
  • Corporate Public Relations teams
  • Event Production Companies
  • Booth & Exhibit Providers
  • Celebrities/Sports Personalities
  • Event Venues & Convention Centers
  • Individual Companies and Businesses presenting at Trade Shows
  • You get the idea….

Skill Levels: Let’s Break It Down.

Honestly, since no two Las Vegas event photography jobs are alike, there is not a definitive guideline that I could create that would totally prepare you for any kind or size event.  What I will attempt to do though is create a summary of my experience with many different Las Vegas events I have photographed and try to provide a general view and some tips that will hopefully somewhat prepare you for and give you some guidance as to what kinds of jobs you should take and which ones you might consider passing on based on your experience and skills.

Let’s start by creating three loosely defined categories that take into account several factors.

Some of the larger, multi-day Las Vegas events I have shot for have required me to hire and manage 2-3 additional photographers as well as a photo editor. This experience has helped me decide which level an event might be grouped into by evaluating what experience level of second shooter I would assign that particular event to if I were unable to shoot it myself. I look at experience, lighting skills, energy level, professionalism, personality, and equipment required. Event Photography: The Important Stuff

Small Business Grand Opening Event

Basic. Generally, 1-2-hour events. Simple, consistent lighting conditions, minimal equipment requirements, adequate timing, consistent flow of events. Dedications and Grand Openings, Golf Tournaments, Small Grad Ceremonies, Award ceremonies, Trade show Booths, Cocktail hours, Red Carpet events.

Jason Alexander at the WSOP Las Vegas

Intermediate. Generally, 4 or more hours, multi-day 1 to 1-1/2 days. Timelines/deadlines may require additional gear and backups, off-camera lighting, changing lighting and circumstances, data dumps, social media uploads. Seminars, Corporate Outings, Bar Mitzvahs/Social events, Small Political events, Golf Tournaments with deliverables, Small Trades shows/job fairs, small concerts, simple headshots

Vegas Event Photography

Advanced. Multi-Day, 10-12-hour days. Changing lighting, Challenging/Difficult lighting, Advanced/redundant gear, Tight deadlines, must-have shots, multi-event, physical toll, multiple personalities demanding expectations. High level of Professionalism. Large trade shows/Corporate events/Conventions, anything dealing directly with Celebrities, Large Political events, Onsite printing, High volume headshots, High volume graduations, Sporting events, Green Screen with printing. Event Photography: And Now for the Details

Here are some general thoughts on the three Las Vegas Event categories. First, there can be a lot fluidity between the different difficulty levels depending on each individual event. Surprises and unexpected situations can make any event more difficult or make good organization and a top-notch team can make advanced events fun and rewarding. Lighting conditions can change at any time and Murphy’s law applies to event photography even more so than to other things.

While I can generally provide new photographers with instructions and settings for basic Las Vegas events, Intermediate and Advanced events demand the event photographer be knowledgeable and proficient with their gear and adaptable to changing light. Event photography tends to move at a pretty fast pace, and no one waits for the event photographer to be ready. Advanced events require expertise, flexibility, and confident problem-solving skills. A Las Vegas event photographer who doesn’t understand off-camera flash or have a good working knowledge of the abilities and liabilities of on-camera flash will struggle with Intermediate and Advanced Vegas events and will not provide consistent, quality results.

A third set of intangibles is attitude, professionalism and physical conditioning. I made the mistake of hiring a videographer to assist me with a shoot and assumed he would know what to wear. It was early on in my career and I do take responsibility for assuming he would wear appropriate attire to an awards banquet and ceremony. He did not and it made us look unprofessional and affected how we were perceived and received by the organizers and staff. (Black is always the right answer by the way for these types of events.) Being friendly, professional and working with a sense of urgency without rushing are all things we need to be aware of as Vegas event photographers. Las Vegas event photographers need to be in shape. Event photographer, like landscape photography, is a hell of a lot of walking. Good shoes are a must.

Gear is obviously important for Vegas event photographers and their ability to be able to tackle the more advanced events. Headshot lighting setups, onsite printing capabilities, green screen, volume headshots or graduation ceremonies all require special or large amounts of equipment and no how and are definitely considerations when determining if a job is in your skill level. You should never take a job you are unprepared for or if you are not comfortable with the equipment requirements.

Back up equipment is essential as well and if you are limited in budget to one pro camera, flash or lens, this can and should limit the size and difficulty level of the job you sign up for. Equipment will fail, lenses will get dropped and batteries die quickly, and it is never acceptable not to have a working backup and redundancy in your equipment. Particularly in large scale events and productions. If you can, rent or borrow backup gear but make sure you have it just in case you need it. I can’t imagine anything more horrifying than being halfway through 250 graduating seniors as they receive their diplomas and having your flash die or worst and not being to shoot the remainder of the ceremony. They won’t stop for you and will have ruined any trust the client has in you not to mention trying to explain why you didn’t get the required shots.

So I don’t want to end on a bad note. Vegas event photography is fun, exciting, lucrative and challenging and I hope you can take some of the information I have provided and use it to your advantage when deciding if event photography is right for you based on your comfort and skill level. Until next time…

You can view another helpful post about Las Vegas Events here:http://www.johnmorrisevents.com/las-vegas-corporate-photography/


Now based out of San Diego, John Morris has been a successful corporate event photographer in Las Vegas for the past 15 years. John also teaches and coaches photography and business to aspiring photographers.