Hiring a Professional Photographer

Finding the right photographer for your business can often be a daunting task especially if you have never engaged one before or are not familiar with the process. Unfortunately the profession is not governed by any regulatory or licensing body which means any Joe can pick up a camera and call themselves a photographer. This in turn means there isn’t a guarantee on the quality of work that a photographer will produce which leaves you, the client at risk.

Fortunately those photographers looking to give the industry some credibility created organisations like the AIPP ( Australian Institute of Professional Photographers ) as a way of creating regulations governing professional work practices and codes of conduct for the industry. Aside from this they set about to create some kind of standardisation of the quality of work that should be considered professional. Any photographer wishing to gain professional accreditation through the AIPP needs to submit work that meets with those standards. There are also standards governing how they run their business. One of these standards is the requirement of  having liability insurance. Remember that if you are hiring a photographer to work at your place of business you should ask if they have liability insurance in case they are responsible for an accident. This is especially true if your place of business is also shared by other businesses or you are using a public foyer etc otherwise you may end up being liable for any accidents. A professional photographer should always have public liability insurance. I am not saying that all professional photographers belong to the AIPP and have public liability but at least these points are good references for you in helping to distinguish between the good, the bad, and the ugly. A good body of work with many years in business along with a large client base are also a testament to being considered a professional photographer. Many pros also have completed tertiary qualifications in photography or visual communication of some sort.

Not many photographers specialise in all photography

Like most professions there are specialists within the profession and this is also very true of most professional photographers. Generally you will find that most good photographers will have an area that they specialise in and where they have gained most of their experience. This might be wedding photography or portraiture , interiors, product etc. When searching for a photographer for a particular project  you need to keep this in mind. There is no point finding a wedding photographer and asking them to shoot some product for you. They may be willing to do it but this should raise some questions about how experienced they are in this area. I’m not saying there aren’t photographers out there that are well versed with a lot of different genres but the photographer who is willing to do anything for anyone at the cheapest price is usually the Jo that we mentioned before.

Anyone can take a photograph

Like any other service you are hiring a photographer for their expertise. You are using them to help you create your vision through their knowledge of lighting , composition , expression , posing and post processing  as well as their technical ability. A photographers  job isn’t simply to point the camera and press the button. In fact the equipment in most instances has little bearing on the end result.

Anyone can take a picture, a professional photographer will MAKE a picture.

A brief word on copyright and ownership

Who owns commissioned images ? In most cases the photographer that is commissioned to produce commercial work for a client owns the work , unless the photographer and client agree otherwise. The client will generally be licensing the images for specific purposes like company web use or a marketing brochure etc. The client does not have the right to on sell the images or pass them on to a third party without the consent of the photographer. Usage can become a contentious issue if it is not made clear at the beginning how the images will be used. Photographers fees may vary depending the types of usage rights a client is asking for.

In Summary

  • Find a photographer that specialises in the area you are interested in. Ask to see their work
  • Ask them about their experience , qualifications , accreditation’s and insurances.
  • Don’t look for the cheapest but at the same time don’t assume the most expensive will be the best option.
  • If you can meet with the photographer first to see if you click on a personal level. There is a quote coined by the photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt that I have adopted as my motto which goes like this.

“It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter”

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