How to get the best from the photographer you hire?
Today more than any point of time images are such an important aspect of your communication strategy and are the first point that speak to your customers, when you invest so much time and effort building your business or your product, do you think it’s right to take a shortcut on how you present it to your potential consumer or customer? After years on the other side of the table having worked in Advertising, Marketing, Sales roles, now I’m on the provider of creative services. I will over this and future blog posts try to share my experiences from booth sides in a way that will help you as a buyer of photography or as photographer make the best out of this experience and get best possible results from this relationship. Working as a photographer in the United Arab Emirates and living in Dubai, offers many exciting opportunities to get involved in very interesting projects and meeting some amazing people. One of the things I really enjoy about spending my time here is the opportunities to interact with highly skilled and talented people in the craft of photography locally and internationally. Besides discussions of technic and style in many occasions we end up talking about the business of photography where we share challenges faced and best practices, there are many reoccurring points in these discussions that I feel if you as client keep in mind, will help you get the best out of the photographer you commission to photograph your product, portrait, life style, editorial, property or create a photo library for you.
- Budget: This is a big and a touchy one that many customers and photographers shy away from, but is a key element in commissioning a photography project. I am sure you have in been in a situation where you have bought a house, a car or gone on holiday? In all these situations if you did not have a specific amount in mind you would have a specific range that allows you to shop with in that range. Knowing your budget and will help you with the next steps dramatically and make your life and the life of the photographer you are going to work with much easier. I tend to give my client’s an average rate before I ask them for their budget, this allows me to know how far and complex the project can be and also gets me thinking on how I can deliver best possible results within this budget since there are other cost elements in a project that need to be accounted for and considered, it’s not about haggling or trying to swindle the client “A happy client is returning one who will send more business your way”. If you want to be more specific break it down so think of how much is that total and what you want to spend on Location, Models, Props in addition to the photographer’s fee. so take a moment and think about how much you are willing or can afford to invest on your project before you pick up the phone or go online. oh and never answer with “I don’t have a budget” because nothing says you are not prepared or not serious more than this statement.
- List of shots: This one might take time but will be something you will be grateful for when you are working on your project or when images are delivered. this is your shopping list it shouldn’t be restrictive but will help you and your photographer deliver on and not miss key requirements.
- Specific and detailed brief: We photographers are creative people and most of us enjoy a good challenge one that is offered by a clear and specific brief, this is a challenge that is beneficial to you as a client because it ensures that you get what expect from the time and effort invested on your photography project. a large part of photography is problem solving where we take a client’s brief and convert it to images. I find a lot of satisfaction when I combine my technical skills in a creative way to deliver an image that answers to the client’s brief. As a commercial photographer the hat a I have on is different from what I would have on when I’m shooting in the streets for myself or when I experiment with ideas in the studio. A good brief does not describe the outcome; but rather addresses
- Time frame: This is a very important aspect of your investment when you commission any sort of project, unlike many aspects of your investment this is one that can not be recovered once lost.Think carefully about your time frames and be realistic about them. Start from the end; when do you need the final images delivered? how much time will it take and how much time are you willing to spend? discuss these timelines openly with your photographer. Don’t wait until the last moment to pick up the phone or to send that email. One of the worst things you can tell a photographer along with “We don’t have budget” is “We need them as soon as possible” there is nothing wrong with being in a hurry but be realistic with your time lines. This will help you work in a more relaxed way and ensure that you get the most out of your photographer.
- Image usage: How and where are you planning to use these images besides copyright issues is how these images will be produced and what is the final output of the photographs delivered to you. keep in mind that these images are the livelihood of the photographers who produce them for you, so being clear on how plan on using these images is a fair business practice that I am sure you are more than a supporter of fair trade.
I am sure I haven’t covered everything that you might face as a client out there while trying commission a photographer, and that these points mainly apply to commercial photography but I hope reading this will make your next photography project more productive, interesting, creative and fun.
Also why don’t you share some of your experiences as a photography client or a photographer?