As an arts organisation, you survive on your audiences; but in a busy city, there are many choices for ticket buyers.
Nothing conveys the excitement of being there as efficiently as a great image; in one glance, you can convey excitement, joy, comedy, drama - a real feeling of what your event will bring the people who attend. No other medium can deliver so much, so quickly.
Production images also live on long after the show is gone, not only for funding reports but for touring, festivals, scripts, archives, remounts and more. They are the living history of the company, and often the only record of the less tangible elements of a show - like the lighting design, the audience's reaction, and nuances of the performance that aren't described in a stage manager's notes.
For event producers, the challenges are the same - great images bring stakeholders along, helping them justify their investment in your event, and helps get new supporters on board by showing them how successful your previous projects have been.
What's more, a single image from an event helps get coverage - and gets that coverage read.
Whether it's closing a road for a red carpet street parade, or convincing clients to hold their event in your venue, images show what you're capable of delivering, with immediacy and impact.
As the New Zealand International Arts Festival's first (and only!) official photographer from 2004 - 2012, I saw first hand how sponsors, patrons, and stakeholders responded to the excitement of a great festival. And what I heard repeatedly from the CEO, marketing and fundraising staff is how much difference great images made to their reports and proposals, newsletters, websites, publicity, social media, and marketing collateral.
When new works premiere, the images also become the first tool for promoting the show to other festivals, both locally and internationally; my images from shows that premiered with us in Wellington have gone on to seasons around the globe, from Sydney to Edinburgh. Festival presenters want to know that you can provide collateral that enables them to sell the show in their market - having great images from the start gives them that certainty, and makes it that much easier for them to say yes.
And it's not just while the events are happening that these images are important: they become the institutional memory of how venues were set up, or even created from scratch, when staff change as years go by. A good photographer can keep all these eventual uses in mind at the time, and capture images that are useful in both the short and long term.
To see more images from the Festival, visit my blog.