How To Select A Commercial Photographer For Your Business

by
Jeff Colburn

Every business needs photographs to properly promote itself. They are used in print and online advertising, social media, audio/visual presentations and much more. Photographs convey ideas and illustrate products and services like no other medium can. As the saying goes, “A picture is worth a thousand words.”

But when your business needs photographs, how do you get them? You can take them yourself, or have a friend or coworker do it, but I wouldn’t advise it. Thinking that you can take professional photographs because you have a nice camera is like thinking you could create a Mozart level symphony because you own a piano.

For professional photographs, which is what your business needs, you need to hire a professional photographer.

First, know what you want. This includes what photographs you need and how they will be used. For more detailed information on this, see my article “Do you need photographs for your business? Then you need to know this.”

Besides knowing how you will use the photographs, you need to ask yourself these questions:

  • What is your budget?
  • What is your deadline?
  • What rights do you need?

Finding a photographer

  • If you’re a small to medium size business, look for a local photographer. Find one who specializes in the type of photography you need. In a small town, the local photographer is probably a jack-of-all-trades and can meet your needs.
  • Talk to other businesses that have used a photographer. Who did they use? Where they easy to work with? Did the photographs look great? Did they stay on budget and schedule? Would they hire them again?
  • Go online and search for photographers. See their website to see their photographs, bio and other information.
  • You can also find photographers here:

Interviewing the photographer

  • If possible, see a print portfolio for the photographer(s) you are considering. It’s always good to see what their photographs look like in print. When you’re looking at the portfolio, and the photographer is explaining every photograph, be careful. A photograph in a portfolio should stand on its own merit and not need explanation.
  • What guarantee do they offer? How much experience do they have? Do they respond quickly to emails and phone calls? If my client didn’t like the photographs I took, I wouldn’t charge them. This only happened once in my career.
  • Who have their recent clients been and who is the contact there? Call several of them to see how well the photographer performed.
  • Ask what problems they have solved for clients.

A few last tips

  • If your photographs have models in them, get a copy of the model release from the photographer. That way, if you need them in the future, you don’t have to hunt down the photographer or the model.
  • Do you need photographs of someplace that’s a distance away from you? Consider hiring a photographer from that area. This will save on fees for transportation, food, lodging, etc.
  • Always have a contract that covers what will be done, what it will cost, when it’s due and what rights you will have.
  • Focus on the photographs the photographer produces and not what equipment he uses.
  • Photographs need to make the customer do what you want them to (buy, try or change) and they must look professional. Cheap photos will make you and your business look cheap.
  • In your contract, state that the photographs are to be exclusive to your company for the time you will be using them. Many photographers place the photographs they take on stock sites, and your competitor may wind up using your photographs. At least, make them exclusive to your industry.
  • If the photographer is too expensive, don’t expect them to drop their prices. No good photographer would, but they may offer more services for the same price. You may receive additional rights, more photographs or maybe a few short video clips.

Give yourself time to find the right photographer to meet your needs. A good photographer will meet your needs, solve problems that arise during a shoot and give you photographs that will help your business to grow and thrive.

Have Fun,
Jeff

 

If you’re interested in Fine Art Prints or stock images of Arizona, visit JeffColburn.com

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