Making the most of your event photographer

You have one opportunity to capture your event in all of its glory, before it is gone forever. Choosing the right event photographer and ensuring they are well prepared is essential. Here are the reasons why we think it is so important and our top tips for capturing stunning event photography.

On Blackheath Festival - Jonathan Ellenor

Don’t Cut Corners

A few years ago after running a huge and complex international conference with over 1,000 attendees the organisers were devastated that the photographs captured were not of the standard they anticipated and that frankly they were not happy using any of them. All of that hard work and all of those magical moments were lost forever.

Unfortunately the client had been adamant that an amateur photographer from their team would do the event justice and that the budget simply was not there to justify a professional photographer. However the voluntary photographer’s lack of experience and lack of photographic equipment or knowledge of using it meant that they failed miserably. Of course once an event is over the moment is lost and without great photos to show it is difficult to easily convey the story of the event. A picture really is worth a thousand words.

If budget is tight and doesn’t allow for a photographer throughout the whole event consider contracting a photographer for a half day or even a few hours. Don’t learn the hard way!

 We cover a range of events...

We cover a range of events...

Smartphones vs. Photographer

The cameras on most smartphones and tablets are superb quality and the effects that can be achieved with photo editing apps is astounding – but can you really rely on your audience to crowdsource all of the key moments of the event you need?

We always recommend to clients that a professional event photographer is worth every single penny. I still appreciate and encourage everyone attending my events (staff included) to take photos using their smartphones and tablets and this is great at capturing specific moments and particularly sharing on social media quickly HOWEVER for me there is a huge gap between these snapshots and the quality of the pictures returned by a professional photographer.

If you are committed to the benefits of having a professional photographer how then do you ensure that you get the most from them?

Check Portfolio and References

 It is vital to look at the portfolio and testimonials or references for any photographer you are considering working with. Specifically look at examples of other event work and similar projects they have undertaken and most importantly ensure that you like their style and creative flair.  But also meet the prospective photographer to ascertain wether they will fit within your team.  Also consider the photographer an ambassador for your company and event.  Make sure you know who you are hiring!

You have one opportunity to capture your event in all of its glory, before it is gone forever. Choosing the right event photographer and ensuring they are well prepared is essential. Here are the reasons why we think it is so important and our top tips for capturing stunning event photography.

Ask for a Quotation

Give as much information as possible to the photographer when asking them to quote for a project. What times realistically do you need them on site, what are you looking for them to cover (remember they can only be in one place at a time unless you need a team of photographers!), how many formal shots are you anticipating, how will you use the photographs afterwards, etc.

Image Copyright/Usage

It is important to be clear with the photographer how you wish to use the photographs afterwards. Will they be needed for press releases, uploaded to your website and social media, used for promotion of the event in future years, etc?

Check if the photographer needs to be credited in a specific way? What are the stipulations for how the photographs can or cannot be used?

Note that it is usual for the photographer to continue to own the rights to the photographs but just give you permission to use the shots in agreed ways.

Venue Knowledge

Has the photographer worked at the venue before? If not ensure they arrive in plenty of time to find their way around before they need to start snapping. Do you have room details listed on the programme? Is there a plan of the layout and key areas you could share with them? The photographer will probably be keen to recce the venue and find some well-lit and interesting spaces to use as a backdrop for pictures throughout the event.

Jonathan Ellenor Labour Images-34.jpg

Brief in Advance

The morning of the event is always hectic with lots of demands for your attention. Having a written and/or verbal briefing with the photographer in advance of the day always saves precious time and ensures the photographer can get off to a flying start.

Some of the key items to cover in a brief may include:

What Style of Photography are you Looking For?
Do you need any staged formal shots, shots of speakers and performers in action, reportage, artistic shots of the food, venue and branding, pictures of people networking and engaging, pictures of the staff in action, the registration desk, etc?



Are They Any Key Timings to Note?
Have you requested that all keynote speakers meet at 8.30am in the main room for a group photography? Are you giving out a secret award at the end of the day and need the photographer to be poised ready to capture the moment? If so, don’t forget to convey this information to the photographer!

If there are multiple rooms in session at the same time do you expect the photographer to visit all rooms to capture a couple of quick shots from each? Or which rooms/speakers/sessions are the most vital? Would you prefer more time to be dedicated there?

Extra Requests
If you need a headshot for a new member of staff or a specific picture for your website now is the time to request it!

It’s All in the Detail
Any extra details you can share about the rooms and the venue can be really appreciated by the photographer who can ensure they are well prepared and bring along the right lenses and other equipment. For example, is natural light available or will the blackout blinds be drawn? How will the stage and speaker be lit? Is the lighting static or rotating or flashing? Is there a large projection screen behind? Will the speaker have a lapel microphone and be able to roam the stage or will they be static at the lectern? Are there any special effects?

How Soon Do You Need the Pictures after the Event?
Do you need any specific pictures to be prepared urgently? For example, you may have a press release that needs to be issued the morning after the event and need to have a few select shots ready to send with the release.

Post production takes time. Be realistic about the shots you need and work with your photographer to ensure that you get the shots that are important to your post event messaging.

Be Transparent

Don’t forget to let your speakers know that photographs will be taken at the event so they are not surprised to see the camera angled at them as they are presenting in full flow.

Also notify attendees and let them know that photographs will be taken and what the photographs will be used for (e.g. future marketing and promotion of the event).

Ideally ask people to accept terms and conditions at the time of booking or sign as they enter the event that they understand that they may be photographed and they agree to this.

In Conclusion

A great event photographer will stealthily and unobtrusively capture the key moments and essence of your event. Like us Event Planners a good Event Photographer will work hard, often walking for miles and barely taking a break to ensure that the event is reported in its full visual glory.

In this information-overload-of-a-world pictures are more treasured and accessible than ever, as the rise of Instagram and the performance of social media posts including pictures proves. Pictures truly are worth a thousand words and justifying the spend from your event budget on an Event Photographer is truly worth every penny.

Jonathan Ellenor spent 15 years working in the events and conference sector and can bring all of this industry experience with every click of the shutter.  We'd be delighted to here about your next event and how we might work with you.  E-mail us on or tweet us @Ellenor_imaging 

 Introducing Jonathan Ellenor

Introducing Jonathan Ellenor



Kez we can!!!

It’s been a few weeks since my last blog posting so it seemed like a good time to update you all on what we’ve been up to over at Imaging Towers.  I thought it might be worth looking back over the last few months of what has been a busy period with no shortage of surprises and new developments.

I’ve shot some amazing gigs but the biggest change for me has been the development of my #Holyrood 100 project but also the increase of the photojournalistic element of the work I’m putting out.  In lots of ways gig photography is not that different from photojournalism, it’s about capturing a moment and putting that moment into context and helping the viewer feel they were there.  Scotland is a great place for any photojournalist and that’s why I’m working so hard to expand this area of the business.  Well-crafted, original and crisp images are essential in live music but also in photojournalism so expect to see more and more images in this field over the coming months.

What about gigs-well biggest surprise of the last few weeks was a haunting performance from Clint Mansell whose combination of classical music with fantastic visuals proved to be my surprise gig of the year.  You can read the excellent review from ‘The Skinny’ here:

The Skinny-Clint Mansell @ Glasgow Concert Hall review

I’ve also pulled together a few of my favourite images from the year so far which can be see here. 

Now I don’t normally do politics – this is a photography blog not a soapbox but I do want to give a huge shout out to Kezia Dugdale.  Politicians come in for a lot of criticism for being out of touch with real people! Well I dropped a cheeky tweet to Kezia wanting access at the Scottish Labour Conference and not only did she reply directly but she was as good as her word! Since then the Labour party have used a number of images from me in their election campaign and if you follow Kezia on Twitter, which I’d recommend, look out for a cheeky little headshot from yours truly for her profile image!  Anyone creative will tell you that the hardest part is knowing if our work is any good!  Little acts like that really help give some confidence that maybe we’re on the right track! – Thanks Kezia!

For anyone with an interest in photography generally I also wanted to recommend tow great books that I’ve been reading this month.  First up is Magnum Contact Sheets.  Possibly the most famous photographic agency in the world Magnum has opened up it’s archive to show not just the finished image but also the contact sheets showing some of the shot’s that didn’t make it.  It’s a fascinating glimpse into the thought process of some of the greatest photographers to have ever lived.  

Secondly a truly beautiful book, La Strada: Italian Street Photography which features Italian street photography from the 1940’s to the 1970’s and includes stunning imagery from some if Italy’s lesser known photographers.  Great inspiration for anyone with an interest in Street Photography.

So what’s coming up?  Well despite the freezing weather in Scotland today spring and summer are coming an so the Festival Season will be kicking in and once again we’ll be shooting at some of the biggest festivals of the season bringing you the sights of artists but also the festivals themselves.  Combine that with a spotify playlist and you can enjoy the summer season without need for wellies or a tent!

I’m also working hard on creating content for our new you tube channel and vlog.  Combine that with a ground breaking training course for aspiring music photographers that will be delivered online and it’s going to be a very busy and exciting few months.




#Holyrood 100 – What’s it all about.

As most of you will know I have recently relocated to Scotland.  One of the key differences I have noticed between England and Scotland is the level and interest of political engagement north of the border.  Last year’s Scottish referendum energised a whole new generation of political activists but also sparked the country into a genuine debate about where it’s headed politically and what the newly devolved powers can mean for the Scottish people.

On the back of all that political activity last year comes the latest general election for the Scottish Parliament.  It really is a defining election that will shape the political future for Scotland for some time to come.  There will be big changes within the chamber itself with turnover of around 35% expected.  Within the election itself a number of questions will be answered; how well will Nicola Sturgeon and her SNP Train do, will they sweep the board effectively wiping out the opposition parties in constituency seats? What is the future for the Labour party in Scotland? Can Kezia Dugdale start to rebuild a future for socialist politics in Scotland or are we witnessing the death of effective left wing opposition in Scotland.  And finally will the right wing tory party steal second place and how will the Euro Referendum affect the party who always seems keen to tear itself apart over the question of the UK in Europe?

So all of this means the scene is set for a very exciting and historic election.  I predominantly photograph live music so suddenly to announce a project around the election might seem on the face of it a slightly odd move.  There are, however a lot of similarities between live music and politics.  Artists and politicians are bot centre stage for a limited time.  Musicians are trying to shift records and politicians are vying for votes and finally both feature a well-choreographed and planned performance.  So turning my camera towards politicians isn’t such a step into the unknown.

Finally I have been a political activist in some way shape or form for most of my life.  It’s the unseen volunteer force that is for me the heroic and fascinating element of any election.  Look at any election in the world and behind the glitz of the main camoping is a quiet and hard working largely unrecognised army of volunteer and activists who gladly give up their time and work for nothing in order to get their candidate over the line.  In a lot of cases they are working for a candidate with a very slim chance or no chance of victory but nevertheless they mobilise and work behind the scenes for no real reward other than delivering their message to the electorate.  So #Holyrood100 will focus on them as well and document what this election will look like away from the policy announcements, rallies’ and political grandstanding of the candidates.

So for the next couple of months I will be shooting and documenting this election but also the EU referendum which follows shortly after both of which will redefine the political shape of the UK for decades to come.  I’ll be updating the website with images every week.  There is no political agenda for this I’m not being sponsored by a particular party and I’m not pushing anyone’s agenda. 

I’ll be speaking to all the main parties and hopefully getting behind the scenes access and exhibit at the end of this process what the election has really looked like away from the headlines.  

So there you have it – yes I’ll still be at gigs and spending time in cramped uncomfortable photography pits but I’m also going to see a bit of daylight over the coming months!  I hope as many people as possible will follow the project on Social Media and that the parties themselves will buy into what I’m doing.  

As I mentioned at the end of the project I’ll be publishing a book and I’m planning for an exhibition of the images as well so do watch this space.   Here’s the next 100 days!!!


What a year it's been...!

What a year it’s been…!

At this time of year its natural to review the activity of the last 12 months and wow 2015 didn’t disappoint. 

The start of the year saw my first exhibition in a major show of contempary music photographer held in Minneapolis in the USA.  My close up shot of Beatie Wolfe taken in the summer of 2014 was selected because I managed in the words of the judges to ‘capture the soul of the performer’.  More about Beatie later!

I’ve been lucky enough to shoot some amazing gigs this last year and worked with some great people.  I’ve also had some fun with portraits and found myself in some very odd situations.  Strangest must have been telling Moshi Monsters founder and CEO of Mindcandy Michael Acton Smith to sprint across his office and dive head first into a pile of Moshi Bean Bags.  I think his coms manager had heart failure!

I was also honoured to take the images for the official NSPCC and Warchild charity single ‘Wish’.  It was an incredibly uplifting weekend to be surrounded by a group of kids who had all been selected by Beatie Wolfe for their ‘Wish for the World’.

The start of 2015 was busy and a high point was agreeing to shoot for a US based website Music Existence, the sight has gone from strength to strength and in 2016 hopefully we’ll be working together more and more.

The big news from the year came in the summer when I moved lock, stock and barrel north of the border to Edinburgh leaving behind my home in London where I’ve been for the last 25 years.  So I now find myself living in East Lothian just outside of the Scottish Capital.  Moving up here has been amazing in the last four months I’ve done a photo shoot with Nicola Sturgeon, First Minister, loads of gigs including the legendary Jonny Marr and worked out of the globally famous Barrowlands in Glasgow. 

I’ve just signed to shoot with independent magazine ‘The Skinny’ which is fantastic and I’m looking forward to a long-term relationship with them.  Early signs look good!

Finally I’m going to be running a number of online workshops and a very exciting project, which I’ll reveal more about in due course.  Here’s to 2016!

Starting point

Wow my first proper blog!  I've called this 'Starting Point' as that's what it is!  Over coming months I'll be talking about the gigs I've been to, interesting people I've me and over time I'll be giving tips and helping you out if you're just starting in the industry.

I've recently moved to Edinburgh from London and I've noticed a lot of differences between the two cities, and not just the language and the price of a pint! The live music scene is much more accessible which for me is great but also for the audience.  Smaller venues make for a much more imersive live experinece for the audience and artist alike!  I shot my first gig at The Caves in Edinburgh and I was thrilled that it was Martin Stephenson and the Dainties.  I have a historic love of the band-I first saw them at uni which takes me back and gives me some happy memories.  Secondly he's a north eastern performer,  I always love hearing my native accent and words and expressions!  One of the benefits of the move north has been access to Sunderland and 'The Stadium of Light'.  If thats a benefit at the moment I'm not certain however!

I digress however let's talk about the gig.  If you haven't seen the Dainties, and judging by the size of the audience last Thursday that's a lot of you, then I recommend it.  Martin is very engaging with the audience and every song has an anecdote attached to it.  The occasional technical hitch adds to the enjoyment of an artist who loves what he does for it's own sake.  He's not doing it for simply commercial success but for the love of music.  Thats what I love about shooting live gigs.  So many artists are not commercially successful but continue to perform for the sake of the music.  A bit like 'In it to win it' on the National Lottery even now and again one of them is plucked from relative obscurity to superstardom.  Two years ago I shot Sam Smith in a room at the back of a pub with seven people in the audience.  Two years later he has a Bond Single.  It happens and sometimes to artists who deserve it!

Anyway back to the gig.  The Dainties play a mix of folk come country come southern US music.  It's diverse but fun and well performed.  They played for nigh on two hours and covered old material and some more recent pieces.  Even the intervention of a fan who actually approached the stage and asked for a picture during the gig didn't knock them off step!  A rousing encore was received by the entire audience that included crime writer Ian Rankin.  The venue was great with pub prices in the bar and good acoustics.

See the images from the gig here.