Emily Schumacher, Miss Minnesota's Outstanding Teen 2017 and her court. Photo: Photographycs
Next to an appearance, few things can help market a pageant or a queen like a good pageant photo package. Attractive photos of a pageant can help recruit new contestants and build sponsorship for the director, as well as bring attention and pageant-related future business to the photographer. It also helps competitors feel beautiful and hold on to memories. (Read: Top 8 Pageant Photographers of 2016)
So, having the perfect pageant photo package is just as important as any other key part of the pageant production. The first thing to think about when choosing your pageant photographer is understanding that not all photographers are created equal. A wedding photographer or outdoor photographer is not the same as a pageant or event photographer. Example: A wedding photographer is trained to take several photos of the bride and groom, several group photos of the bride’s family, and then random photos of the guests and others at the event. This formula applied to pageants will get you a photo package containing many photos of the winning queen, several of the director and staff, and then only a few photos of the remaining contestants. This is not a photo package many competitors will want to buy or be happy with, outside of the queen or director.
Tips for directors
As a director booking a live photographer, this doesn’t mean you can’t use a photographer who has never worked a pageant, but it is always best if possible to use a photographer with stage experience. It is important to communicate and agree in advance what photos will be part of the pageant photo package and how they will be taken before the event.
Ensure the photographer has the ability, space and position to take good, clear photos at the venue. Make sure the photographer is aware of how many people will be needing to be photographed, and the expectations of how many photos per contestant you are wanting to be offered in the package. Then you can discuss price. It is important that the photo packages being offered to contestants are affordable, particularly if audience photos are going to be forbidden. It is always a good idea to offer presale package discounts to contestants, and be clear on what photos will be included as part of the photo package deal. Order deadlines and package delivery dates are also an important topic to discuss in advance with the photographer as well as contestants. Some photographers only want to do advanced order packages, while others might be okay with allowing orders to be made after the pageant up to a certain amount of time. Having this information communicated before the pageant helps ensure good business relationships between the photographer and the contestants.
Photo packages should include:
1. At least one good group photo from the event. Make sure that everyone is present and that all faces in the group photo are clear and easily seen. Group photos are great for friends and family, and also help promote the pageant system.
2. At least 3-5 clear shots of each constant in each phase of the pageant. It is preferable to be able to have the entire body in the shot as well as other cropped options of head or upper body if possible. If interview is part of the scoring, photos can be taken before or after the interview segment in a well-lit, attractive location. These photos are the most important, as these are the shots that get printed, shared, and sometimes used for other purposes and events.
3. Photos of highlights from the pageant. This doesn’t mean a photo of every person coming on stage, but a photo or two of the judges as well as photos of any speakers or entertainment during the pageant is also nice to include and helps keep the memory of the event.
4. Photos of trophies and crowns as they are being awarded. Usually only one or two clear shots are needed. If there are going to be several awards given out before crowing, make sure everyone knows to keep the photos quick and easy by making sure to look directly at the photographer and hold still for a moment while smiling and accepting the award, which should be visible. This is also true for crowning moments. Make sure that those helping crown are not blocking the winner of the crown from the photographer’s line of site and let contestants know not to cover their faces.
Photo packages should NOT include:
1. Dressing room or backstage candid photos. While it might be tempting to sneak backstage and attempt photos behind the scenes, it is best to not have these types of photos be in an official photo package. It is distracting to the contestants and pageant staff, space might be limited, and people are not always dressed. It is best to leave these types of photos to the contestants.
2. Excessive photos of a particular group or person. While it might be tempting to take several photos of a group at the pageant that is entertaining or of a contestant who might be more photogenic, it is important to make sure that the photo package being sold is balanced among all the ladies competing. Directors work hard to make sure their pageants appear fair to all those competing. Most pageant photo packages come out shortly after a pageant when there might still be hurt feelings about placement. A contestant buying a photo package with three times as many photos of another lady or group of friends than her has the potential to cause hard feelings, which then reflects negatively on the system and the photographer. A little diplomacy can go a long way.
3. After pageant photos that are needed for marketing. It is important for all contestants and family to remain focused until the photos are done. Give the photographer a list of photos needed so that the desired photos can be taken as quickly and easily as possible so that tired contestants or contestants needing to travel can be released.
Tips for photographers
Pageants are a great way for photographers to get their brand name out to the public and generate business. There are several ways for photographers to use their time at a pageant to generate additional revenue. If space permits, set up a photo booth in the lobby to take and sell individual photos of guests and family attending the pageant. This is a great opportunity to hand out business cards, get contacts and promote business. See if you can man the red carpet until you are needed in the theater. This is a great time to hand out business cards or ads for packages. (Read: Top 10 Headshot Photographers of 2016)
Offer a discount deal to pageant contestants for future photography needs. However, this will need to be okayed by the director in advance do to possible sponsor conflicts. After the pageant, the photographer will continue to work hard to edit, sort and process all the photos. A large pageant event can take up to a few weeks to go through all the images. Many photographers do request that unless there is an emergency, contestants be respectful of this work time and not email or call with special requests until after the package is released. This ensures that quality photo editing can happen, which improves the overall photo package. This date should be listed so contestants know when to expect the pictures.
Going forward A good photo package has the potential to benefit everyone – the contestants, the pageant and the photographer. When it is well organized with clear communication and expectations, a pageant photo package can be the highlight of a pageant experience.
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