Going cheap might not be cheap after all…

I recently executed a few projects where at one point or another of the project I find out that I am reshooting the project after another photographer!

So you got to the point where you need photographs for your business. Go online, search for photographers, you call a few of the listings that show up online, explain what your requirements are; some will ask you questions, some will want to meet, and some will just give you a price. You review their portfolios, look at your budget and try and make a decision based on the price.

Price is important; you are running a business at the end of the day, but avoid the fatale mistake of going cheap. In many cases going cheap might not only waste you money but would end up wasting your very valuable time as well. Remember time is one resource you can never recover. Some times there won’t be an opportunity to reshoot. I’m not saying you should go with most expensive bid blindly, but I strongly recommend asking a few questions before with the cheap offers:

  • Find out how they are planning to shoot your project?
  • If they have the necessary experience and knowledge to deliver on your requirements? and expectations?
  • Ask about project timelines?
  • 300 interior photographs in half a day! how is that different from you snapping with your smart phone?

This dose not mean that your photographer must have shot your exact project before, so do not discount a photographer just because they didn’t shoot your competitors project. Most importantly do you like their vision, and their ideas? If you do, you can still get to work with the more experienced photographer that you like their work by negotiating these points:

  • Less final images: revisit your list of shots some shots might not be key and you can live with out them.
  • More specific licensing: you might be able to bring the price down by narrowing the usage of the image or reducing the license duration, if you won’t be needing this photograph after a year why should you license if it for Three years? or if you know you will never publish it except online then you don’t need blanket rights to the image!
  • Be more specific on your brief: giving a specific brief will help you narrow down the scope of work, and therefor reducing the price.
  • Revisit your budget: Is your budget at below or just about covers the lowest bid? then you will need to rethink your budget or your brief.

Just think about the cost of these short term saving might be when you end up with results that are far below your requirements and expectations. Next thing you know you are spending your time looking for another photographer while trying to manage delays with other stake holders of your project.

My friend Nicoline brought this quote John Ruskin * while discussing this blog post with her that I think summarises what I have been talking about very well:

“There is hardly anything in the world that someone cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price alone are that person’s lawful prey. It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot – it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.”


This photograph of a 41 meters 1431 tons that was about to be moved in Abu Dhabi. With a window of about 10 minuets in a dark yard, experience and quick thinking delivered.

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