Business Matters

Why You Should Hire a Commercial Photographer

Your brand is an important investment.  As Meryl Streep once said, “How you first meet the public is how the industry sees you.  You cannot argue with them.  That’s their perception.” Once you are ready for custom imagery, hiring the right commercial photographer to illustrate that brand can be overwhelming.  An experienced professional photographer will be able to walk you through the process and assess possible challenges, but knowing what to expect and what kinds of questions to ask can make the experience less complicated.

Most people will go through life without ever having to hire a professional photographer. With the exception of wedding photographers, or portrait photographers who photograph our kids for school, most folks just never have a need for a commercial photographer. Commercial photographers usually deal with other businesses, a B2B approach that makes Graphic Designers, Ad Agencies, Magazines and Corporate Communications their main points of contact for work. Those entities are usually working on behalf of another company that requires photography to promote their business, product, service or craft.

However, increasingly people are in need of a photographer who shows the detailed quality of their work. Perhaps they are starting a website, or have opened a service business and need images for a brochure and website, or require interior photography, staff portraits or food and drink images to showcase their own unique contribution and brand to the market. Having a consistent image for a business is becoming more important as personal branding draws in customers. Gone are the days of taking stock images – as our social media age evolves people want a more personalised experience. While we’re on the subject of stock photography, there are indeed some places in your marketing where good stock photos can be used, but remember those same images can be used by everyone, even your competitors – now THAT would be embarrassing!

Tips for hiring

If you are one of these people,and are thinking that you maybe need a professional photographer, here are some things to think about as you make your decision…

You are not hiring an “Artist”, you are hiring a “visual solution provider”

Yes, I know that sounds kind of pedantic, but that is what commercial photographers do. Every product has challenges to making it look great. Every service has challenges in bringing that service to a photograph. Professional commercial photographers are uniquely prepared to meet those challenges and provide solutions that make images that work for you. Most commercial photographers consider themselves problem solvers first… and that is good for you.

Don’t look for “your photograph” in their portfolios

Photographers always have portfolios of images they have taken for someone else. Those images solved that client’s problems and provided the unique visual solution that had been worked out with that with them. Your needs and challenges will most likely be different than theirs, and the photographer will work with you to find the best solutions to your unique visual challenges.

All photographers are not the same

The wonderful photographer who photographed your friend’s wedding, may not be a commercial photographer, nor have the skills needed to provide that work (but, perhaps they might… always ask for a client list). If you need a people shot, you should look for someone who does that well. If you have a product, make sure the photographer can shoot products. Remember that their portfolio, while not having the exact shot you are looking for, will definitely let you know if they are capable of shooting products, people, locations and studio work (look at their lighting of the person, product or room).

Discuss your budget honestly

Most professional photographers are decent, honest people and want to work with you. They can take your budget and find the best way to get what you need done. If your budget will not be enough for a studio rental, they will find a way to shoot it on location. If you only have a specific amount of money to spend on the photography, most photographers will find a way to make sure you get the absolute best work possible. And for sure, different photographers have different ways of getting things done. It is certainly OK to look at different photographers and compare their quality and bids. It is considered rude to haggle the price with a professional photographer. Would you haggle the price of your food in a restaurant? No! When you are asked for your budget this is for the photographer to help you, not for them to try to get more money out of you.

Hire a photographer that understands your needs

How can you tell if they understand your needs? They ask questions. Lots and lots of questions. They will want to see what you consider your competition, they may want to scout your location, or meet with you for a pre-production discussion. They may ask to do test shots before the actual shoot to make sure they can solve the challenges in the best way possible. They will want to know exactly what you want to do with the images so they can prepare them for the best presentation possible.

Great photography is not a cost item,

it’s a profit centre!

Good photography sells more product. It makes your service look better. It takes your business and shows it in the best light (no pun… seriously). Look at the premium brands for the truth. They spend tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of euro on their imagery. Why? Because they KNOW it works. In side by side comparisons, consumers and purchasers choose brands with great photography over products with bad, boring or mediocre imagery. In short… better photography sells more stuff to the clients you want to serve.

Hiring a professional photographer should not be difficult or cause angst or pain. It is an important business decision, and should be considered with deliberate thoughtfulness. Choosing the wrong photographer, or making visual decisions that are not in keeping with your brand and the goals of your business can have long reaching consequences. Choosing the right photographer can bring more to the bottom line of your business than you even imagined.

 List of questions to ask when hiring a commercial photographer

Are you insured?

What’s your background and credentials?

Can you provide references and may I see your portfolio?

What is your photographic style?

How many jobs like this do you photograph in a year?

What does your fee include and what’s the delivery timeline?

Do you require a written contract?

What is the commercial licence on these images?

What can I do to help capture the right images?

Photography by Tarmo Tulit