Tip #1: Communication
In hiring and working with a professional photographer many would love just the fastest service without speaking a word but in reality in many areas of services communication is vital to your happiness of having a great service. It’s no different for photography. Have a consultation, if the photographer you’re working with does not offer one simple request one. Simply showing up to a studio and booking a session and showing up to the session without much of any other communication can spell disaster for both the photographer and client. I personally require a phone consultation or in-person consultation (or even webcam like skype). A consultation will ensure everyone is communicating smoothly and clearly, a simple call/email to me or a photographer for their rates does not work to your advantage because many different photographer rates/pricing system is very different and some are complicated and some are very simple which are dependent in which field of photography they’re in.
Consultations will ensure the photographer has as much information as possible to possibly generate a custom quote on the spot or provide a custom quote at a later time, dependent the type of photography this can be very quick or can take some time. Such as commercial photography costs can largely vary could be a simple day rate + other variables or it could be more complicated such as $X/hr for X photography + X. I know you may be asking why not simply have packages that include all of what people ask for, this is true and can work but if you do not see stuff you’re looking for it is very likely you’ll move onto the next photographer on your list and costing us photographers to losing a client. Custom quotes will give you an exact cost if your details on your needs were specific and you will get your needs met then making you a happy client. In some cases photographer’s providing a custom quote will require a budget or estimate of a budget to ensure to not include certain things (like bells and whistles) so the custom quote would be meeting your budget and may or may not be exactly what you’re asking for dependent on your budget. If it does not meet your needs but it meets your budget simply negotiate, sometimes asking to add/remove some items in the quoted services may help you and the photographer to make a deal.
For example, you are a fashion designer, and needed fashion photoshoot of your entire spring lineup. You need all rights transferred of all final images (lets say 10 for this example), with 10 different wardrobes that needed to be photographed in 1 day, with 3 different female fashion models, and at a studio location with seamless white background for all images. Of course this is not elaborate but this cost a very high penny, high like somewhere around and about $15,000, and that’s a very rough estimate. Easily the majority of the cost is the rights transfer as industry standards have standard average costs to a full copyright transfer should be about around $1,000 for fair market value, of course this could be more or a bit less dependent on the subject and individuals involved in creation of the images. When I say less I mean some do offer bulk discounts, such as myself. Now if you do not need the copyright transfer then you can save yourself a ton from simply asking for a duration of time to use the images or/and specific usages like X campaign will be featured in X, Y, Z and for X amount of time, if that’s the case then the cost could dramatically be much smaller as the photographer can still use images for further revenue generation if they have all documentation set in place for that.
Furthermore in communication is getting your vision (if you have one) across to the photographer you’re hiring to create your vision. If you’re the client or a person working for the client like an Art Director show samples or show a mood board for the photographer to fully understand the vision. If no mood board exists then in many cases using the samples you provide to the photographer would help that photographer create a mood board to ensure they communicate with their team members in certain productions such as fashion or advertising where a team is generally expected. If you do not have samples go through the photographer’s work and pick out images you fell in love already to select them and show them what you want for this project.
There are many reasons why communication is important, if there is no communication this can cost you as the client money and time if great communication does not exist for the project’s success. I don’t put all the blame on the client as the photographer as well is required to have great communication as it is a 2 way street but if 1 of the 2 isn’t communicating properly the entire project can fall apart.
Tip #2: Research
When I say research I don’t mean simply looking at photographer’s websites for public pricing and price shop. I mean research their terms of service, read the terms of service, and especially look at their portfolios regarding the type of work you’re looking to hire for. Such as going to a wedding photographer and asking them for a quote on headshots and they do not have any headshot portfolio photos displayed as you’re on their wedding photography website. Some photographers do many types of photography, some don’t. Be careful as some will do everything and anything as long as you pay them and you haven’t seen any samples of that specific type of work.
Tip #3: Find the right photographer for your vision.
Many people assume you hire a professional photographer you’re simply hiring a person to just push a button on a very fancy camera, but in reality this is completely untrue. When hiring a professional photographer you must check out their work. Some photographers provide strictly a certain style of photography, such as lighting, editing, and posing and some other photographers such as myself have a decent number of different styles I go to (see headshot styles here) and provide to clients whom want that style. Some clients may want a specific style, instead of simply hiring any photographer and assuming they can do X (which some may and some may not) find the perfect photographer you know can deliver the same style in the photos you’d like from them to create.