10 Tips On Hiring A Photographer
ADVICE LITTLE ADVICE ON HIRING A PHOTOGRAPHER

The advice given here is based on being a photographer and editor for over a decade in Perth, Western Australia.  My advice on hiring a photographer is based on my own personal opinion in an attempt to provide prospective Clients with the best information on getting the best images for their home or business.  My goal here is to inform you of the things you might like to consider when hiring a photographer like me ( or another photographer) to work for you.   I’m writing this because I have spoken with a lot of photographers over the years and there are issues that arise repeatedly that can be avoided with the proper communication.

Vernon Edwards

Photographer

Digital Editor

PRE-HIRE CONSIDERATIONS WHEN HIRING A FREELANCE PHOTOGRAPHER

HIRING A PHOTOGRAPHER

PRESHOOT QUESTIONS 1

IMAGES – TYPE & DESTINATION

 

Are your images being used for web, social media, print, or all of the above?   

 

Their intended use will affect how your photographer shoots, what they shoot and the lenses used.  Some applications require panoramic shots, others close-ups so I always ask before I come out but this info has to be determined BEFORE the shoot if you are going to get the best photographs. It takes planning.

 

Do You Require Headshots?  Corporate businesses tend to use Traditional Grey background but Natural light headshots are now very popular and have a softer more welcoming look.  This is something you might like to discuss before you start.

 

Each Social Media platform has specific optimal sized images.  Some will automatically crop and resize for you but many of them make the images blurry even if they are shrunk.  Have a look online and give your photographer a style sheet of what you like – and don’t like.

 

 

HIRING A PHOTOGRAPHER

PRESHOOT QUESTIONS 2

IS SOMEONE UPLOADING  FOR YOU?

 

I have spent a good deal of the last two years working for web designers so I have a fair grasp of what is required. Some web designers have in-house photo editing resources but surprisingly, many do not. 

 

Do not assume that this will be the case as many companies will take what you give them from the photographer and place it within your site without any further editing.  I’ve seen this a lot.  This means that if you are uploading straight from the photographer, then one of you has to edit the images.  NEVER DON’T EDIT!  We can assist if you like but don’t miss out on this step.

 

So If you are hiring a photographer to edit based on the Web Designers requirements you should be OK.  If the Photographer is only colour correcting then you may want to find out more about the Web Designers editing capability because Web Design, Graphic Design and Photo Editing are different disciplines.  I have more on Editing below.

 

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HIRING A PHOTOGRAPHER

PRESHOOT QUESTIONS 3

TIME OF DAY / SUN LIGHT / HEAD SHOTS

 

For your shoot to go smoothly you need to find the best time of day for the images you need.  Light penetration is helpful if for shooting within the premises, especially if there are few windows.  Is there is a time of day when the sun illuminates the room you need to shoot in?  Yes, lights are always available but natural light looks great and may save time in setting up lights.  Also Is the front of your building in shadow during the time you have specified?  Have a look and schedule shoot time accordingly?

 

Dressing appropriately is something I find many prior clients are not prepared for.  I have had employees of the Client wearing fluoro green trainers on a Front-Of-House staff shot.  I’ve had business owners rock up in Uggs.  I have had personnel with dirty shirts that the client had to pay extra for me to clean in post-production. 

 

The list goes on and it is definitely advantageous to have a chat with staff so that everyone knows when shoot day is and how to dress for the occasion.  After all, it’s your image ( figuratively and professionally )we’re are working together to craft.  

HIRING YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER – 10 TIP TO SAVE TIME, MONEY AND fRUSTRATION

1.  ENSURE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER UNDERSTANDS COLOUR

 

When I first started editing I would look at images I loved and think “Why don’t my images look like I envisaged when I shot them”.  I couldn’t figure out what I was missing.  The answer was years of shooting: getting an eye for composition, studying colour composition, colour trends, the psychological effects of colour and way of manipulating colour within photo editing software packages to match the colours and the vision I have in my tiny brain.  That’s All!

 

When I speak with a Director,  Graphic Designer or Web Developer and they tell me that the images are to be all high key and the dominant colour of the website is blue and yellow, I know think, Yeah Ok.  I know how I will shoot and edit that Shot List. When I first started out I would wonder why are they telling me this.  “I’m a photographer.”    It has taken me literally, thousands of hours to have a full understanding of how light colour, mood, aperture and image levels affect the final graphics or artwork.  There is sooo much more to editing than cranking up the “Hipster Slider”.  So when you are thinking of hiring a photographer, have a look at their stuff and if you love their colour palette and the way they shoot – you should be fine.  But CHECK!

 

 

 

 

colour_graded_image_example_edited_by_photographer

Colour graded image example

humorous-photo-art-director
Yes - All Art Directors Look Like This

 

2.  ENSURE THE ART DIRECTORS TASKS ARE SORTED OUT

 

WE ARE  HAPPY TO TAKE ON ELEMENTS OF THIS ROLE FOR YOU

 

Large organisations have Art Directors.  Their job is to oversee the work of the Designers, Stylists, Photographers and Photo Editors ( Retouchers ) to ensure a smooth workflow and the desired aesthetic.   They all look like the person on the left except when they are women – then they don’t.  ( Seriously  – I’m friends with one.  He wears a barret!)  They will tell the photographer what to shoot and ensure set readiness to execute the shot.  Someone needs to take on this role – even on small projects.

 

WE  CAN LIAISE WITH YOUR GRAPHIC DESIGNERS OR DEVELOPERS

 

I’m happy to step in and send off a few questions to the Web Developers if they are running the show.  Once in a while, it is the Client’s employee that is running the show and liaising with their web developer on my behalf.  This is fine but often I require info such as the number of shots, specific shots, Hero shots etc.  Are there panoramic sliders that need to be shot.  If so, what are the pixel dimensions?  Are there colour grading requests, Do they need the images in sRGB, Adobe 1998 or CMYK.  Do they need the RAW files? 

 

So usually I get put onto the Developers to have these questions answered but the point is that in order for me to give you images that work for you, I do require this information as does any photographer you hire.  If they are not asking these questions you may be in for a “kerfuffle” down the line.

 

3.  IT HELPS TO CHOOSE A PHOTOGRAPHER THAT IS FAMILIAR WITH DESIGN

 
PHOTOGRAPHY & DESIGN FIELDS ARE MERGING

 

Back in the day, a photographer was a photographer.  A photo editor was a photo editor and a designer was a designer.  Today all fields are merging and photographers are often excellent editors.  If you can find one that can design; that’s gravy.  I’ll tell you why.  In order to get from the click of the camera to the front of the brochure or Web page, the image will have to be edited and passed at some stage to the designer that will crop and text and other stylistic elements. 

 

So we are talking about 3 processes and the image will pass through up to 3 sets of professionals from camera click to web click.   It’s pretty obvious that if your photographer is comfortable in all these fields you are going to get a better level of communication between them which is always good for you.  And it’s going to be a lot cheaper. It’s also helpful in that your photographer will be more “in-sync” with what the designer’s layouts will be.  This will ensure better results in the long run. 

 

 

graphic_design_based_on_photograph_by_hired_photographer

 

4.  ENSURE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER WORKS FROM SHOT LIS

when hiring a photographer ensure they work to a shot list

When Hiring A Photographer Ensure They Work To A Shot List

 

SCENARIO 1: SHOT LIST COMING FROM CLIENT 
( SMALL BUSINESS )

Small companies that are uploading to their own websites are often unfamiliar with the dimensional specs for the images they require.  Often times I’ll have a look at their site and we will work out what is required.  This can be done prior to the shoot if their site is viewable or on the day of the shoot.  I am fairly used to hit the ground running with most shoots so this is often not too much of a problem although preplanning is always a better option if available. 

Wedding photographers need to have the list of shots as well as a list of key people so you need to tell them that “Grandma Meg” brought you up for 10 years and will need to be in all family group shots for example.  I’ve worked for wedding photographers that will ask both parties if there is anyone else they need to include before wrapping up.  So as a Client you need to be able to convey this information.  If it is an event or wedding and you are too busy to take on the role then you need to assign the photographers aid BEFORE the event.

 

SCENARIO 2: COMPILED BY THE CLIENT AND THE DEVELOPER OR DESIGNER
( MEDIUM BUSINESS )

Often times I am provided with a shot list from the Client several days before the shoot.  I’ll have a list of shots that are required by the developer for the site or marketing brochure.  It will say for example Shot of outside of building for the front of the brochure, landscape 2:1 ratio or Landscape 2000 pixels by 1100 pixel etc.

 

SCENARIO 3: SHOT LIST COMING FROM CLIENT”S IN-HOUSE TEAM ( LARGE BUSINESS OR GOVERNMENT )

Larger firms will often have a graphic designer in-house who will organise the shoot. This is great for me because I get a defacto Art Director.  They will often look over my shoulder during the shoot and say, ”  I just realised I want one of those in a 4:1 for a banner on Linked In so I’ll recompose and shoot it again.  This makes my life very easy and the Client gets precisely what they want. 

 

event_photography_by_hired_photographer_vernon_edwards

Hire A Photographer That Specialises in Your Type of Imagery Image by Hired Photographer Vernon Edwards

5.  ENSURE  YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER  HAS EXPERIENCE  CREATING THE IMAGES YOU LIKE.

 

TO USE AN AUSSIE-ISM:  “HORSE FOR COURSES”

I was contacted a few weeks ago by a guy that asked if I could provide images for a cake smash for his daughter.

 

He seemed surprised when I told him that I was not the best person for this but I owed it to him to tell him the truth.  My heart would not be in it and I probably would not get the images he wanted so he would have been dissatisfied.  No point in that.  There is work that I love and am passionate about.  

 

I love corporate images for business websites events and media marketing.  I like putting everything I know about composition, lighting and colour into making these images for my Clients.   Have a look at the website of the Photographer you are considering.  It says a lot about their style.  Is the site brash and “Full-on” or understated?  If you are a Newlywed, what kind of couple are you?    With a call and a look at the site, you can usually get a fix on what kind of Photographer you are hiring.

 

image_editing_by_hired_retoucher

Image Retouching by Hired Digital Retoucher

6.  ENSURE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER CAN RETOUCH IF YOU NEED SLIMMING or SKIN WORK  IN POST.

 

Ensure Your Photographer Can Retouch If You Need Slimming Or Skin Work In Post

This is Always a Huge Issue For Brides and Photographers Alike.  So Bring It Up Before You Hire!

It takes quite a while to “PROFESSIONALLY” smooth skin.  I’m not talking about the “Make everything Blurry” Process but to do it so that it looks perfect.  I’ve done this for magazine models in the past and the methods are high end as is the time.  So You need to make sure how much retouching is allowed before you pay extra.  Same goes for slimming.  If you require digital slimming ” a little CTL+SHFT+X”  in ps-speak then you need to work this out with the photographer because it will not be included. 

 

 If you have images like this and the wedding is done and dusted then maybe I can help you but if you need 200 images of someone slimed and have not spoken about it till after the Wedding – There’s going to be a “gunfight in coral”.  Don’t avoid the conversation because you are a little embarrassed about requesting it – get it all out there in the beginning. 

 

Speak with your photographer about retouching any body part that is not your strength

The same goes for anybody trait that you do not think is your strength.  A good photographer can make you look a little slimmer through proximity and lens choice but if, for example, You have never liked your nose then you will need to find a photographer or a retoucher that can sort this out for you.   I have seen blistering arguments between brides and Photographers regarding issues like this  (No not me – I only retouch weddings!).  So you will make your life easier if you broach the topic beforehand. 

 

 Long story short – Most photographers are not retouchers so their reluctance to do this type of work is not out of stubbornness:  It is simply not their field so maybe ask about this before hiring.

How Much To Pay When Hiring A Photographer - A Bell Curve7.  MAKE SURE THEY ARE NOT TOO EXPENSIVE NOR TOO CHEAP

 

THE PHOTOGRAPHERS JUST STARTING OUT – INEXPENSIVE HIRES

 

There are a lot of photographers around, here in Perth.  Some are good some are not.  Just like any other profession.  I am told that you can pick us a student photographer for about $40-50 an hour, maybe a little less.  For that, you may get someone that maybe does not have that much experience and is not familiar with light modifiers and lighting arrangements.   They will most likely have a basic flash although they may not be familiar with editing.  It varies.  I’m not going to trash anyone here.  I started doing this over a dozen years ago and when I started I did not know how to edit and lighting was difficult.  It’s a process that every photographer goes through.   Make sure you ask to see recent previous work before you sign and most of these problems can be avoided.

 

THE LAW OF DIMINISHING RETURNS APPLIES TO PHOTOGRAPHERS E AS WELL

Some Pro Photographers on the other end of town are getting upwards of $200 per hour.  These are the ones working for Agencies and Government Contracts with a big-spending budget and long histories of working together.  These people are good at what they do.

 

IMPORTANT INFO ON PHOTOGRAPHER PRICING HERE!

 

My rates are twice what you can get a student for and about a third of what the pricey Photographers charge.  I think my rates are reasonable for what you will receive image-wise and the editing skill set I bring to the table.  Many don’t realise that when you hire a photographer for say 4 hours the amount of time they spent is at least double that. There are Preshoot conversations, shot lists, distribution arrangements, equipment readying, driving back and forth and editing and uploading.  4 hours is actually 8 hours.  So if you are hiring a photographer for 4 hours but they are working for 8 hours all up and paying them for four for $120 you can’t really be too upset that you are not getting what you see in the magazines.  Just a thought!

 

 

8.  MAKE SURE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER  HAS APPROPRIATE GEAR AND ASSISTANCE a canon 5d - gear to look for when hiring a perth photographer

 

HIRING A PHOTOGRAPHER BASED ON GEAR IS WRONG.  HIRING A PHOTOGRAPHER WITH AMATEUR GEAR IS JUST AS BAD.

 

Pros You Encounter Will Shoot Canon, Nikon or Sony

 

I am hesitant to write down the bare minimum of gear required for a particular shoot here for a few reasons.  The first is that your gear will depend on what you are hiring the photographer to do.  The second is that gear is changing so quickly now that nominations will be outdated in three minutes but here are some basic guidelines.

 

Wedding photographers often need two cameras and often a second shooter because everything is happening all the time around them and they don’t have time to swap out lenses.  They should shoot with pro camera bodies and have a fast prime lens especially if they are indoors or in poorly lit areas. Usually a focal length of choice at 1.8 – 2.8  aperture.  

 

Corporate photographers have the luxury of time.  Time to set up. Time to swap out lenses.   I have tended to settle now on two professional lenses that give me the look I like in various settings.  You also want to know the photographer you hire has a mobile lighting capability.  I use up to four softboxes for my setups but you can get away with one.  It depends on your style but to have none:  That’s maybe a bit of a warning sign.  

 

For Weddings, all said and done the main thing you want to see is a fast prime lens.  Maybe a 50mm, f1.8 or f1.2  for those warm creamy shots with great blurred backgrounds and some lighting at a minimum.  Depending on your budget you will expect to see a second shooter.   For indoors you need fast primes.

 

9.  HIRING A PHOTOGRAPHER SHOULD BE ENJOYABLE

 

A SHOOT CAN BE A REALLY ENJOYABLE EXPERIENCE OR A FEW HOURS OF PAIN

 

Hiring a photographer should be something you looking forward to.  After all, you are going to work together as a team to make you or your company look great.  I was speaking with a web design firm just today and the Director said “I can tell you are easy going just by talking with you.  You are open to suggestion – I like that. With a lot of Photographers we get around here, it’s my way or the highway.”  I was surprised by this because I did not think that it would be hard to find someone that isn’t agreeable.  I stated that as a Canadian, I had to be polite.  It was in the Mandatory Guidebook of Canadia. 

 

All joking aside though, try to get a feel for the person on the phone.   If you get a bad vibe, look for someone else.   At the end of the day, this is your rodeo – you call the shots.  If they are arrogant over the phone before you pay them, just imagine what they will be like in person after you’ve paid them.  Hiring a photographer is not difficult, just ask questions and check prior work.  

 

10.  ENSURE YOUR PHOTOGRAPHER IS CLEAR ON WHAT YOU WILL RECEIVE.

 

SPEAK WIT A COUPLE OF PEOPLE WHOS WORK  YOU LIKE

I was contacted a few weeks ago by a guy that asked if I could provide images for a cake smash for his three-year-old girl.    He seemed surprised when I told him that I was not the best person for this but I owed it to him to tell him the truth.  My heart would not be in it and I probably would not get the images he wanted so he would have been dissatisfied.  No point in that.  There is work that I love and am passionate about.  

 

I love corporate images for business websites and media marketing.  I like putting everything I know about composition, lighting and colour into making images that Clients like and customers enjoy.   I enjoy the process and the people I meet when I work. 

 

In the end, I put the bloke that enquired about his daughter onto a friend of mine who loves doing newborn photography.  It’s her passion and she would do a better job that I would. 

 

 

Hiring a Photographer?
CALL OR EMAIL OUR IN-HOUSE PHOTOGRAPHER IF YOU HAVE ANY QUESTIONS

 

 

Feel free to call us if you have any questions regarding anything you see here.  We would be happy to answer any questions you have or point you in the right direction if you require something we do not specialise in.

 

 

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