Captivating event photography is vital to effectively marketing your event. It gives potential attendees an idea of what to expect from your event — and quality matters. When you’re choosing an event photographer, you’re really choosing a photographer to trust with your brand. And if you work with a professional photographer, you’re drastically increasing your chances of telling the story of your event in a compelling way.

When choosing a photographer, it’s easy to focus solely on their event photography rates. But with a little research, you can find an event photographer that fits your budget and boosts your brand. Here’s how to find the best professional for your event photography:

Get advice from seven professional photographers and learn how to use photos to promote your event in The Ultimate Guide to Event Photography.

Finding an event photographer

Trying to find a photographer to partner with? Across the board, our photographers named “word of mouth” as their main driver of business. Talk to fellow organizers for recommendations and to understand what event photography rates are standard in your area.

If you’re stuck, try a simple Google search or look at the photo credits on other event websites. You could get some promising leads — just be sure to vet that they are a professional photographer, and not just someone with a camera and free time!

All professional and freelance photographers will have some type of portfolio or website. Check out their past work to see if they’ve shot similar events and to make sure their style fits the look you’re going for. Some professionals will list their event photography pricing on their site, but you will have to get in touch with most photographers for a quote.

How much do photographers charge?

Event photography pricing varies greatly based on location, experience, and the difficulty of shooting the event. Expect a rate somewhere between $200 and $500 per hour.

“You’re paying for the professional to come out with equipment, lighting, backup equipment, and more,” says Christie Connell, the owner of Azure Photo Studio, who shoots countless events of all kinds every year. “Keep in mind, the photographer is usually putting in time before and after the event too, so the associated cost encompasses all of that.”

In addition, photographers will often request an assistant. Silverman says to think of it as hiring a sous chef for your chef.

“There’s a crazy list of requirements to hit as a photographer, and assistants can be the glue it takes to keep everything running,” says David Silverman, owner of David Silverman Photography. This is especially true if you want photos to be uploaded to Instagram or other platforms during the event, and don’t have a dedicated team member for that work.

Negotiating a fair event photography rate

Most event photography pricing is based on the circumstances of your specific event. To start off pricing on the best foot, give your photographer detailed information about your expectations so they can factor that into their quote.

“It’s helpful to know exactly how many images you expect to get from the photographer, how fast the turnaround time is, and the amount of retouching and color grading you’ll want from the photographer,” advises Joe Montana, a freelance photographer in San Francisco. “These three factors add the most amount of time to a photographer’s workload.”

In addition, establish up front if you’re paying for the memory card full of photos, or per image. “More junior photographers will give you the all the files on the card, whereas more experienced ones may charge you by the image that you license,” says Brian Beaver, VP of Design at Eventbrite. You also should be sure to specify whether you’re getting raw (unedited) images from the photographer, or if you expect them to retouch the images before delivery, as that will affect costs as well.

Not in your budget? “There are ways to subsidize the photographer,” says Misha Vladimirskiy, a partner at Filterless.co who has photographed events like Coachella. “Put the photos in a gallery on your website that gets a lot of views, and get a brand to sponsor that page. Or, if your Instagram account has amazing photographers and followers, brands may give you money to be featured.”

Want more advanced event photography tips to better your relationship with professional photographers? Check out The Ultimate Guide to Event Photography.