The photos of your event are the only part of the event that will live on forever, so choosing the right photographer is as important as choosing a quality venue, the right caterer, the right DJ, and all the other details that make up a successful event.
1) Determine your requirements
Do you just want photos at a lowest price or do you have a specific vision in mind for the type of photos you want to see of your event? How do you plan to use the photos from your event? Are you just going to post them on social media, or do you need the highest quality images possible to use as part of your marketing activities for future events? Your answers to these questions will determine whether you're going to be able to shop based on price or based on value. Price is what you pay. Value is what you get. Good, fast, cheap...choose any two.
2) Make sure they are insured
Ask the photographers you're considering if they are insured and ask to see proof of insurance. Why does a photographer need insurance? It's okay for you to wonder about that, but if any photographer you engage doesn't have insurance and doesn't know why they would need it, you probably should remove them from consideration. Many venues will require any vendor you bring onto their premises to be properly insured. If someone trips over the photographer's foot, for example, and falls and breaks something or injures themselves, now what? Insurance is one of those things that you don't need until you do, and then it's too late if you don't already have it. You don't want this kind of headache. Make sure all your vendors, including your photographer, are properly insured.
3) Review their previous work
Review the event photography portfolio of any photographer you're considering. If you are shopping based on lowest price, you may have a hard time applying this tip. If you're shopping based on value, then any photographer you're considering should have an event photography portfolio for you to review. Not just a portfolio of nice images across various genres, but a portfolio specific to event photography. In addition to showing the best shots from various events, the photographer should be able to show you complete coverage of multiple events so you can see what they've delivered to clients in the past. This is how you can determine up front whether or not their shooting style will yield the types of images you have in mind.
4) Get the details on their image delivery process
How many images can you expect to receive?
How soon will they be delivered?
How will they be delivered?
There are photo delivery options that provide a far better user experience than a link to a zip file or a folder on a cloud storage service. Professional event photographers will make it easy for you to share your photos by using a service designed specifically for delivering photos to photography clients. These services are smartphone-friendly and provide options to allow viewers to share their favorite photos on the various social media platforms, as well as order prints, if they choose.
5) Review the contract
Does the photographer use a contract that specifies their obligations, as well as yours? Do they even have a contract at all? You get what you pay for and working with a photographer who doesn't have a contract is a sign that you are not working with a professional, which may not result in you getting what you're looking for.
6) Speak to them on the phone
Hiring an event photographer is not something you want to do via electronic messaging. You should speak to anyone you're considering hiring so that you can communicate exactly what you're looking for and get a feel for whether or not they'll be able to deliver it. And be prepared to answer a few questions. Asking questions is how an experienced photographer determines exactly what you need so that there are no misunderstandings later.