How many hours of photography do I need?

Wedding & Corporate Photographer | Washington, DC & San Antonio, TX

Posted 01.22.2018 Corporate, Education, Family, Wedding

It’s a common question I get from couples, organizations, and individuals looking for a photographer for their private event.

The easy answer: during all of it.

From top to bottom, everything within an event is worthy of a photograph. Having a photographer through the entire event gives a complete overview. Take for example, the movie Home Alone. Saying, he got lost at the airport, had a hard time getting home, made it home….is not as exciting as showing you what happens through and in between each of those story lines. So full photography coverage tells the complete story.

While you may want your 10-hour wedding, or 10-hour conference photographed, you may not want a photographer during all of the hours. Or perhaps you’re on a tight budget and don’t need as many hours.

So, the second answer: during the important parts. 

What is “important” changes per person/organization, but the overall tone is, what pictures will you want after the event is over? What do you want to remember the most?

For weddings, think about the images that will be printed and displayed. Example: newlywed portraits, family portraits, ceremony.

For corporate events, I recommend the images that will be sent to donors, guests, and used for marketing materials. Example: awardee receiving award, posed and candid images with VIPs, wide image of the ballroom/reception area.


Here are other parts of events we’ve heard clients find necessary to have photographed:

  • Toasts/key note speeches
  • Presentations and awards
  • Special performances, dances, rituals
  • Step & repeat/posed images with executives
  • Open dancing


Real examples:

  • Last year, we photographed Ary & Nissim‘s 15 person wedding.  We covered getting ready, ceremony, family portraits, and newlywed portraits.  Three hours was just the right amount of time to show their wedding day at Strathmore Mansion.
  • Andrea & Perry had a large eight hour Baltimore wedding day with two photographers. They had family attending from abroad, some were in her bridal party. It was important that we captured the entire day so that each person was photographed. We were able to tell their story from the getting ready to the reception.
  • Each year, we photograph Mary’s Center’s Noche Tropical Gala, from start to finish. With over 500 guests, the event requires a three-person photography team. We cover VIP reception, performances, award-ceremony, step-and-repeat (branded backdrop), and dancing. Mary’s Center sends thank you notes to guests, donors, sponsors, that night. That means our on-site editor quickly finalizes images for them to publish. By the end of the night, they have a wide array of images to choose from.
  • BethesdaOrtho had their inaugural Great Strides 5k last year. They wanted marketing images to use to promote future events, so we photographed the hour and a half with the most action. That was registration, start of the race, runners in action, and when the first set of runners crossing the finish line. We told the story and captured the diversity of attendees.


Hope this helps you determine how many hours of photography you or your organization needs! Feel free to reach out if you have any questions about your event.

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