Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What are you paying for, when you hire a Pro Photographer?

Since very few people realize what is involved in providing clients with quality images, we thought it might be a good idea to shed some light on the topic, and divulge the Behind the Scene "tools", that are necessary to conduct this art, as a profession.

The Photographer
Indeed, this person has an artistic nature, but does that suffice? Experience, hard work, and schooling is also necessary. This experience comes at the expense of trial & error, training through lengthy & costly courses, and the time spent acquiring the tricks of the trade, in becoming the professional, they are today.  When hiring a Pro, you are getting all that knowledge, from years of perfecting the art, without being subjected to any of the downsides or associates costs.  With some, you also obtain someone that is reliable, on time, of good-nature, bilingual & provides a prompt finished product.  Lucky you! ;)

The Space
Whether your photographer has a dedicated studio, or even a home studio (some of us have both), space doesn't come cheap.  In most cases, yearly rental fees are upwards of the $15/sq ft range. That, along with the necessary studio equipment, insurance, heating & lighting, and the photographer has a decent expense to make up for at the end of the month.  There are risks involved with the commitment of signing a lease, and none of those risks are passed on to the client.  Again... what a relief!

The Gear
I'm not aware of many trades that involve as much investment, as photography.  If a photographer is active in various fields of his trade, gear can reach phenomenal amounts, well above $100K.  In addition to several camera bodies and infinite amount of lenses, there's also high-speed memory cards, filters, flashes, goal-cam enclosures, tripods, monopods, remote triggers, articulating arms to consider. Studio equipment tends to be just as demanding, financially, as flash heads, soft boxes, beauty dishes, umbrellas, reflectors, plexi's & backdrops all add up very quickly.  It should be quite a relief to know that the client only pays a very small portion of all that investment.  Fiou!  

The Logistics
Coordinating and getting to a shoot, whether it is local or abroad, demands a method of transportation, along with the expense of the "vehicle" and travel time, comes...  

1. Vehicle, maintenance, insurance, fuel, parking
2. Coordination & juggling of dates/bookings
3. Coordinating assistants, make-up artist, stylists

When you hire a photographer to do "on-location" images, a lot more goes into it, than someone showing up with a point & shoot.  For instance, if the shoot is outdoors (wedding), proper timing is necessary to have the best possible natural light of the selected location. We use the Lightrac App for this, by the way.  There's scouting of various areas, estimating quotes, writing proposal, and follow-ups.  If your project is out of town, bookings are involved (routes, hotels, flights. etc...), these are somehow absorbed in the overall pricing structure.

This is a topic, that I was eager to discuss!  Since this part of photography is usually done away from the shoot location, very few people are aware of the time & equipment that is involved to accomplish a finished product. A photographers workflow is very particular, and to his own taste, but nonetheless takes time and requires a minimum of performance equipment.  A powerful desktop computer, 1 (or more) large HD screens, back-up systems, Photoshop/Lightroom software licenses, FTP software, Ultra-speed Broadband internet, digital tablet, etc...

Downloading, selecting, and most importantly... editing images, takes considerable time.  Depending on the type of shoot, editing a single image can be as quick as 30secs (sports), or as long as several hours (Product/Jewelry).  It shoudn't be taken lightly, as most of the work is done during this process. 

In other instances, some clients prefer having some of the images while on location, and during the event.  This requires additional equipment, such as a laptop or an iPad, along with Eye-fi cards, and either a Wifi connection or creating a personal "Hotspot" with your iPhone.

Photographer have a good list of contacts of their "entourage" in their database.  In some cases, the photographer is asked to provide a "turnkey" service, and help assemble, or even supply the entire team of people required to conduct a shoot - make-up artist, stylist, and models (through agencies).  Although time-consuming to coordinate availabilities, contact a numerous amount of people (on more than one occasion), book, confirm & invoice, this is one less headache for the client to worry about. 

A Quality Product
When hiring a Professional, you assure yourself of a quality product.  With todays technology, there's no reason why a client shouldn't take the time to go through a photographers website, portfolio, etc...   

What easier way is there, to determine if the potential candidate has the capability or certain style that meets the clients expectations!?!  

A Pro photographer will be consistent in supplying his client with the quality product that is being asked of him, especially if precise indications are  provided to him prior to the shoot.

Rights Of Use
Since November 2012, when Bill C-11 was passed in Canada's supreme court of law, photographers detain ownership of the images captured, for life.  That being said, clients are given rights of use depending on their needs and the agreement between them and the photographer.  It's always best not to assume and have a written contract/release form between all parties.  Usually, the photographer provides such documents, to be signed by the client.

It goes without saying, that all Pro Photographers should have a website. There's no better "window" to showcase current work. It should be maintained, and up to date, and contain all the services such photographer has to offer.  

It's also a great way for clients to go through the photographers portfolio, and determine if the style and complexity of the work being done by this photographer, meets the mandate they have in mind. Our website can be seen via this link >

It was brought to my attention, that we also have liability insurance, which in turn gives added peace of mind to our clients. Any photographer worth hiring, usually has a minimum of $1,000,000.00 coverage, in form of a liability insurance umbrella.

All things considered, when you summarize the Experience, the Gear, the Logistics, the Post-production, the Quality and Rights of Use, the Peace of Mind..., utilizing the services of a professional isn't that expensive, at all!

We hope the information in this post was informative, and helps you understand what is involved for us to provide our clients with the very best quality imagery possible.  On that note, please respect your photographers and their art.