I am really pleased to have professional photographer Clare Murthy guest blogging about a subject that I'm often asked about when starting a website project. Choosing the right photographer is such an important decision to make, as they will be representing the essence of your entire website. Clare has put together some crucial pointers to consider when making such an important decision... Enjoy!
You’ve invested in a shiny new website, perhaps a new logo or some copy. Have you consideredthe photography? Good quality photos that match your brand and ‘feel like you’ can really make your website shine, and importantly help you to feel proud of how you present yourself online.
Finding a photographer can be a bit of a minefield; how much should you expect to pay, and how do you make sure you walk away with photos you love? These 5 questions can help you make the right choice.
1. Do you like the photographs?
Every photographer has a different style and whilst any photographer can most likely photograph anything if they put their mind to it, we all gravitate towards, and do our best work in a particular style.
Before you even start contacting photographers, check out their portfolios - usually found on their website. You’ll find that each of us has a different style and you’ll probably gravitate more towards some than others - some will just be a better fit for your brand.
2. Is there chemistry?
When you hire a photographer you’re putting your trust in them to represent you and your brand in a way that makes you proud. Chemistry is important and it’s much easier to get a feel for people by speaking to them than via email. Pick up the phone to talk to the photographers on your shortlist.
Notice whether the photographer is interested in you and what you do - are they asking questions about what you do, your business and your brand? Does it feel like they understand the way you want your brand to be represented? As one of my friends puts it “are they talking to me or at me?”
3. What’s the process?
Find out what the photographer’s process is for business shoots. Is there an opportunity for the two of you to discuss ideas or create a mood board together before the session? What happens afterwards - how long will you need to wait to see the photographs, and what’s the process for choosing which ones you’ll keep? How will images be presented to you? Does the photographer edit and retouch the photos before showing them to you, or do you see unedited photos and only the ones you choose are edited?
Is the photographer making suggestions about the number and type of photos you’ll need, possible locations or how to look your best in photographs? This blog post by Phil Pallen gives an excellent overview of the kind of things you should be looking for such as left and right justified photographs.
4. How much does it cost?
Photography pricing can seem complicated. Some photographers charge a fixed fee that includes a certain number of images, others charge a fee for the shoot and then images are extra on top. There’s no right or wrong way of doing this, but talking to a few photographers will give you an idea of your options and which ones will be within budget.
Once you’ve decided on a photographer make sure all of the costs are agreed in writing so you’re clear on your expected spend upfront.
5. What are the image licensing terms?
It might be helpful if I step back a bit, and give you an overview of image licensing. Whenever a photographer takes a photo they own the copyright, not the person who commissioned it. So when you buy a photo or package of photos from a photographer (whether they are family photos, wedding photos, or business photos) you are buying a license to use the photos. The photographer still owns the copyright.
Most of the time you’ll just want a very basic license - perhaps the permission to use the photographs on your website, on social media or to accompany features in the press. But if you’re planning on using the photographs for other uses - for example print or digital advertising you should expect to pay more. Make sure you discuss this upfront, so that there are no nasty surprises afterwards.
Over to you
By the end of this exercise you should know a lot about the different options open to you, and be in a place to make a well informed decision about which photographer you want to book, and on your way to a set of photographs that make your brand shine!
I regularly share photography tips, and answers to questions just like this over on my website. Come and say hello at www.claremurthy.com