Hiring a photographer is an essential part of building your brand image and presenting your business as the consummate professional organization you run. With all the work you’ve done to build your small business from the ground up, don’t skimp when it comes to representing yourself impeccably. Once you’ve committed to this awesome investment of hiring a protographer to generate images for your website, social media, and print materials, here are a few questions to ask to make sure you get your money’s worth.
1. What does the fee include?
This question is going to get straight to the heart of whether you’re comparing apples to apples when you are evaluating several quotes. Every business or industry has slightly different needs, and a number of factors go into the final product. A photographer should spell out what the initial fee will encompass, and let you know their rates for additional work:
- Photographer’s time
- Additional shooters, assistants, or support staff
- Image editing, retouching, or optimizing for print/web
- Number of final images received
- Number of prints or printed materials, if applicable (less common with small business photography than with wedding or portrait photography)
- Timeframe for image delivery
2. How can the images be used?
This question of image licensing is technically part of what a photographer’s fee includes, but it is an important question to ask on its own. In most situations, the photographer retains the image copyright, but licenses the images for a client’s specific needs. Licensing fees can widely vary depending on whether the photos will be used to represent the business, staff, and products on a company website and social media, or if they will be used in commercial advertising. Before signing a contract make sure you’ve discussed what you intend to use them for and that the image license you’ve paid for is covered. Expect to pay more for a license that includes advertising.
3. Does this photographer shoot the kind of images I need?
Event photography and commercial photography are completely different beasts that require a totally different mindset and skill set. Shooting live events involves rapidly changing lighting, capturing moments that can’t be recreated, and blending in with a crowd while being right in their faces. Directed photography requires posing, arranging, and lighting for people and/or inanimate objects. Being good at one doesn’t necessarily translate to being the right pro for both. When hiring a photographer, narrow your search to those with a proven track record for shooting the kind of images your business will need depending on your brand, product, or service.
4. Is it a style match?
Look extensively through a photographer’s portfolio, and imagine your brand being represented by their images. Photographers develop a style over years of work and training, and the work they shoot for you won’t be substantially different. Make sure you’re starting with someone whose work is capable of projecting the image you’re going for.
5. Can they recommend a team?
There’s nothing worse than hiring a photographer to shoot your staff, only to get technically flawless images that feature sloppy subjects! Can your photographer recommend stylists for hair and makeup, if needed? Or at the very least, can they provide you with a style guide before the shoot? Staff should get advance notice regarding what styles/colors to wear (and NOT wear), and guidelines about appropriate hairstyles and accessorizing, to ensure images are consistent.
6. What is their reshoot policy?
It helps immensely to communicate (extensively!) upfront about what your needs are, and a photographer who is unable to fulfill the contract should absolutely have a plan for reshooting and providing the expected images. However, there may be gray area in which–despite the images being technically correct and ample–they just aren’t what you expected. In this case, a photographer likely has no obligation to provide you with additional images, but most photographers really want you to be a happy client who will sing their praises and send them more clients! Don’t be afraid to ask about how they handle those requests and under what conditions they would consider reshooting images.
7. What do you need from me?
While you don’t need to hammer out the nitty gritty details before signing a contract, this vein of conversation builds trust, and can speak volumes to a photographer’s preparedness and professionalness. They should be able to let you know exactly what they’ll need, once hired, to organize and execute a shoot. They’ll need a detailed shot list, but they’ll also need you to communicate details to staff, gather products, or arrange introductions with staff and clients as applicable. If they can’t answer this question, you may be in for last-minute requests or disorganized communication throughout the process.