Why Use The Services of a Professional Photographer?
In an age when it seems as though everyone has a cameraphone it’s an obvious question to ask. Why pay for the services of a professional photographer when you can shoot it yourself at little or no cost?
If you are a capable photographer with the creative flair, technical knowledge and years of experience that will allow you to produce quality images that represent your brand then great, get on with it and save yourself some hard earned cash. But if like most people you don’t understand the technicalities, angles, light or have that creative spark to produce a quality shot then my advice would be to call on the services of someone who does. If you don’t, the cost to your business can be huge in the longterm. Maybe the real the cost to your business won’t be obvious at first but there will definitely be a cost when your potential clients start to associate poor quality images with your brand. These potential clients might well assume that your willingness to display poorly posed images with inferior colour corrections and poor lighting on your website or social media streams somehow demonstrates your business ideals too.
I run a home and and a business and like most people these days I always keep a close eye on what I spend. We’re all guilty of it, looking for something for nothing or at least as cheap as we can get it.
This is all well and good but there comes a point when the law of diminishing returns comes into play. You get what you pay for they say. Pay too little and sometimes you won’t even get that.
There are some sectors in which we have little choice but to pay what is being asked for a service or product, indeed we are sometimes required by law to use qualified tradesmen or professionals to carry out our work.
Some trades or professions are not regulated by law and qualifications are not required to carry out the work they offer. A sort of black market has developed in many of these sectors whereby anyone with a paint brush, ladder, hammer, lawnmower or camera etc can claim to be an expert who can carry out the work far below true market prices.
The business of photography unfortunately finds itself in this unenviable position too. No real regulation or control. Yes there are some trade bodies but nothing that really works and nothing with any real clout.
The upshot is there are a lot of people claiming to be photographers. And who is to say they aren’t but are they pros? Can they shoot to order under pressure, can they deal with any adverse lighting conditions or locations that invariably test the skills of even the most experienced professional?
Digital photography has brought photography to the masses. Whether in the shape of a compact camera or camera phone pretty much everyone has access to a camera. Not everyone thinks of themselves as a photographic expert but a lot do. Every business in the land has an office camera or someone with a keen interest in photography and these days is keen to make use of this in house “expertise” to save some money. I totally understand where this comes from, this need to save money and still get the work done but there is a big difference to being able to take a nice photo and being able to take a nice photo on demand, under pressure, within tight timescales and repeat that over and over again. That is where the pro excels.
By doing it yourself are you really saving money in the long run and do you really get the quality of work that your business needs to portray and sell it’s brand? Most people wouldn’t dream of attempting to shoot their own high end advertising photography but how often do I hear “ It’s only for social media” as the justification for shooting headshots, event and conference photography with their camera phone.
Whether for website, social media or hard print publication the quality of the photography you use represents your own brand or product. Inferior quality photography will harm your business and may actually cost you money long term in sales lost because potential clients are put off by the poor imagery that they perceive as reflecting your business standards. Joe Public is way to savvy not to notice the poor lighting, colour casts, awkward composition, lack of consistency in so many of these phone pictures that find their way onto company web sites and social media streams. They may not fully understand what it is that is technically wrong with an image but they will notice when it is wrong and they will associate that poor quality with your brand. So it’s important to get your photography right whatever platform or media you are reproducing it in.
An experienced professional photographer will be able to help not only with quality and creativity, seeing pictures that someone without their eye would not be able to visualise, but the pro will be able to get the most out of any situation or subject that faces them. He or she will make the sitter/model feel at ease, make the best use of available light and have the additional lighting and skills to improve on the ambient light if needed as well as being able to work quickly and efficiently to get the shot thereby releasing staff or colleagues who are involved in the shoot to get back to their work quickly.
A pro can give advice on your project, locations, clothing, style, copyright, model releases etc and be able to turn the pictures around quickly, all edited, colour corrected, captioned electronically in the image metadata and distribute the pictures around media outlets and most importantly be insured against public liability at the very least.
Many enthusiasts are better equipped than pros these days and many are very capable photographers but having good kit is not always a guarantee of quality. “All the gear and no idea” springs to mind. People often say to me ”That’s a nice camera, you must take great pictures”. Yes I take great pictures but not because I have a nice camera it’s because I have an eye for it and years of experience as well. Yes I have an expensive pro camera but that’s to give me the technical quality, reliability and flexibility that a pro camera provides.
Finding the right pro for a project is not always easy and can be a little daunting for someone not used to dealing with the creative sector. Start with a photographers website, look for a strong body of work over many years. Work that fits in with your requirements…..A wedding photographer would not necessarily be the right choice for a pr shoot intended for getting you noticed in the press. Call and have a chat, see how you get on together.
A good working relationship is paramount to getting what you want. Communication is so important. Being able to get over what you want, briefing the photographer fully so he knows what kit to bring, who and what he’s photographing, what the images are to be used for and any styles or other ideas you might have in your mind. Some examples of images you like may also help get your ideas across. Things will run a lot more smoothly if there are no surprises on the day of the shoot. A good brief needs to be so much more than date, time and location. Who, What, When, Where and most importantly Why should be covered in any good brief.
A lot of photographers specialise. In my case my specialisms are editorial, PR, corporate, conferences & events and portraits. These are areas that are a natural progression from my previous 24 year career as a staff press photographer. That’s not to say I won’t turn my hand to other work as I’ve experienced most aspects of photography during my career but don’t ask me to do a wedding, I leave that to the experts in that field.
Pros these days frequently have add ons to their basic stills services. I for instance offer video. I also pride myself on the high standards of overall service I provide to the client so that the client feels looked after and valued. It’s important to me that the client gets the results they expect, after all they are investing in me and my business.
Booking photography doesn’t necessarily have to cost a fortune. Like most pros I have fees I aim to get for the work I do. These fees reflect not just the time spent on a shoot but the time spent in post production to ensure the finished images are print ready. I calculate that every hour of shooting usually means a further hour in post production. The cost of what can be very expensive kit, cameras, lenses, computers all need to be taken into consideration when pricing work. And then there’s, broadband, telephone lines, mobile communications, software and insurances and of course travel that need to be accounted for. The final piece of the pricing jigsaw comes in the form of what use the pictures are being put to. Most of my work would be for pr and corporate use and this is reflected in my base job fee. However if a client wanted work for advertising use then my prices would reflect that. With all this said though, I like most people want to be working and will therefore always be happy to look at fees on a job by job basis and will do my utmost to meet any sensible budgetary restraints. But the bottom line is that the pro photographer does need to make a living.
To conclude, a pro photographer can help build your brand and increase your sales. Find the right photographer for you and be willing to spend a little money to ensure your social media, web and print presence truly reflects your business. Be associated with quality and not cutting corners.
Keywords: Business, Cardiff, Commercial Photographer, Communications, Corporate, Corporate Photographer, Editorial, Editorial Photographer, Event Photographer, Event Photography, Flash photography, Lifestyle photography, Location photography, Marketing, Marketing Photographer, Mediaphotos, Photo Shoot, Photography, PR Photographer, pr photography, Press Photographer, public relations, Roger Donovan, Wales
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