How do you get professional event photography at no cost?

Sponsorship!

Leveraging a photography sponsorship to cover the costs of hiring a professional creates a win/win/win trifecta. You get great images of your event, your favorite photographer gets paid for their services and always takes your calls, and your sponsors get to achieve their marketing and/or philanthropic objectives.

For some, leveraging the power of sponsorship may require a shift in thinking. Understand that your sponsors are not doing you a favor. Whether it's for community service or for business development purposes, any potential sponsors you engage are already spending money on marketing. Why not leverage your event and their marketing budgets to create a mutual benefit?

Also, sponsorship is not about selling out. You should only be reaching out to potential sponsors whose products or services you believe in and know will be of legitimate benefit to your attendees and their networks. Reach out to companies and individuals that you would be proud to have as a sponsor. In many instances, the employers of your attendees are a great source for potential sponsors.

If you put some effort into determining the demographic that potential sponsors would be able to reach through your event, and then identify organizations that are targeting that demographic, either for philanthropy or for doing business, then you have everything you need to present a value proposition where no one is doing anyone a favor. It's all about creating a mutual benefit. This is how great things are accomplished in all facets of life. Leverage sponsorship to hire a professional photographer who will create images so impressive that you'll eventually have sponsors reaching out to you. Business people know a value proposition when they see it. You just have to present one to them.

Large companies are always recruiting. They also have corporate social responsibility (CSR) budgets, which is money allocated specifically for improving society. Ask them to support your organization. Community banks, financial planners, real estate agents, law offices, insurance brokerages...these are just a few examples of groups with marketing budgets who will pay to present their brand to their target market. Think about who would like to market to your attendees and present them with a sponsorship opportunity. You could also identify a group of companies that offer complementary services and present them with a joint sponsorship opportunity where they collectively bring each other business. Think outside the box. There's more than enough sponsorship money around if you get creative and put some effort into finding it.

Tips for reaching out to sponsors:

  • Present a value proposition by matching your event demographics with compatible sponsors.
  • This sponsorship is for a high-visibility ad placed in a photo gallery that everyone is going to be excited to view and share. Be sure to point that out.
  • You're offering them the opportunity to sponsor the only part of the event that will live on for years to come. The catering is here today and gone tomorrow, but the photos are forever.
  • Find lots more tips on how to identify and secure sponsors in this PDF co-written by two major event planning companies. It is a windfall of info on how to succeed in leveraging sponsorships to execute your events.

If you have any questions regarding how a sponsorship would work, feel free to reach out to me. And feel free to send my event photography portfolio to your sponsors to show them what they'd be paying for. I'm generally humble, but when it comes to marketing, you have to be willing to sell yourself and I have no reservations at all about saying that I generate images that make people click. Anyone who sponsors a gallery of my images will get their message seen.

And the sponsorship concept doesn't apply just to event photography. If you run a non-profit and you need headshots for your board, get a sponsor to pay for them. They'll get to literally look at where their money went and they might send more people (potential sponsors) to your website to show off their sponsorship.

If you want to generate some real buzz about your event before AND after, get a sponsor to pay me to bring my studio to your event to shoot headshots. I can take my studio anywhere and produce headshots like the ones below. If you send your attendees home with headshots like these, what kind of value proposition will people associate with supporting you and attending your future events?