Better Event Photos, Lower Cost

Great event photos, taken by a professional photographer, can take a big chunk out of your budget. And I’m in support of paying a pro to do a good job: good, valuable work should be well-compensated. (This article does a good job of explaining why good event photography is a luxury whose value increases with time, which justifies a higher cost.)

Let’t talk about why you need photos at your event. Will they earn the cost back when you use them as marketing materials in the future? Is this an event that definitely needs to be captured with elegant, well-edited and curated images?

If the answer is yes, then by all means don’t skimp on the professional services.

But if your event can be captured in a more ad-hoc, informal style, or if you want to collect and capitalize on the serendipity of crowd-created imagery, you may consider a few other types of options.

1. Invite amateur photographers to your event

If your event showcases elements that a photographers might want to shoot for their portfolios (fashion shows, celebrities, or striking subject material like a flower show), give a few of them a VIP ticket and allow them to publish photos with their watermark.

Having a crowd of photographers can give a paparrazi feel to an event’s entrance or runway: instant excitement!

(As a side note, the header image for this article was taken by Guidebook’s content marketer Jordan!)

2. Hire low-cost freelancers

A word of caution: you often get what you pay for with photography. That being said, freelancing sites like Ourspot and Wooshii (for video) allow you to find an amateur or pro who is a fit for your budget and needs, and project ratings alleviate the risk of ending up with the wrong one.

3. Let your audience be the storytellers

This is my favorite option. A few months back I had a great conversation with Mickey Howard, a Guidebook client who uses our app to help 20,000 new University of Florida students navigate their student orientation each year.

“We did competitions that drove people to upload photos of candid moments with their family members. If we tried to do that with our roaming photographer–they would never capture that.”

To cover an event from the perspective of your audience, you need to inform, incentivize and capture.


Let your guests know that you’re collecting photos. Try projecting the feed of user-generated photos on a few screens throughout the event, and sharing them using your hashtag.


A contest is a great way to keep people interested throughout the event–so you maintain the momentum of the “early bump”.


Ask guests to upload photos to your event app. They’ll be able to scan and like what others are sharing, and you can export the images to share in follow-up materials and marketing for next time.

The result? A complete photoset, shared in an organic way. An engaged audience that feels like they’re part of the story.

Want an easy way to collect user-generated photos? Build an event app free with Guidebook 🙂

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