This is the third and final part of my series running through how to hire a professional photographer for your business and project. Today I’ll cover working within your budget and actually meeting your photographer.
You can also see Part 1 and Part 2 of How to hire a professional photographer.
If you have a fast food budget you can’t expect Michelin Star food.
This pretty much speaks for itself. Every freelancer sees this far too often. Big ideas and no budget to achieve it. Photographers are a business too, with very expensive equipment and hours upon hours of learning their craft. They work the hours most people would faint at, but they’re not after sympathy. Maybe everyone has a camera in their pocket but that simply makes them a camera owner, not a photographer.
The age old saying, you get what you pay for, still stands today. Great photography no longer stands out in a world where images flash past our eyes every second. You’re looking for awesome and outstanding if you want the swiping fingers to stop and look at your business.
Does a small photography budget mean I can only get an average photographer?
No, not at all. Having fewer images which meet and excel your needs and vision is better than many more average images.
What about spreading the costs? Ask the question. Perhaps the project can be broken down into smaller bites.
If your photographer agrees, you can create a larger number of image assets and arrange to receive later on when your business has grown.
For example, food photography rates in the UK vary a lot. London based food photographers charge more because living in London is so much more expensive. That doesn’t mean you can’t find a photographer who’s rates you can budget for.
If they ask what’s your budget, tell them. Neither of you wants to waste time dancing around the subject.
We’re back at the dance of the unspoken budget again. Lay it out at the start. If the photographer doesn’t ask, tell them what you want and how much you can pay to achieve it.
I can hear a few people saying “but I could get the photographer way under budget if I don’t tell them” and yes you could. We’re talking about building lasting relationships and if a photographer is quoting way under it won’t be long before they realise this. Then they correct their rates and perhaps their clients business doesn’t like this. Now you have to spend your extremely valuable time searching for a new and hopefully cheap photographer.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been approached by a business who hired a photographer on price, only to be disappointed at the results. Now they have to rummage around to get a new budget to hire someone better. Often the same someone they should have hired in the first place. Now they don’t have a healthy budget at all and perhaps they can’t find a photographer who will reshoot for the reduced budget.
Being clear on your budget tells a photographer that you’re serious about going ahead and the project is in motion. We all want to be part of a confident team, photographers are no different.
If your budget isn’t big enough for the photographer how do they express this?
How a photographer reacts to your smaller budget can give you insight into how they run their business. Do they shut the door on you or do they offer options showing interest in finding solutions.
If you’ve sold your idea well then hopefully you’ve sparked the interest of the photographer. You want someone on board who’s actively looking for solutions. Maybe there’s another project you’d like to talk to them about or maybe your budget isn’t as small as you thought.
Be prepared to up your budget for the right photographer. It’ll repay you 1000 time over.
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Understand you’re buying the usage of the images.
Just like buying a film or online music. You don’t own them, you’re buying the rights to use them. Image assets are no different and copyright applies. You’re using these assets to grow your business and better connect to your ideal clients. They are a source of revenue and done right, hugely valuable.
If you don’t have a marketing strategy don’t hire a photographer
The last thing you want is a bunch of image assets sitting on a website barely earning their keep. Image assets become a cost instead of an investment when you don’t have a marketing strategy. This isn’t any good for anyone involved.
If you’re a new business and don’t yet know much about marketing, talk to your photographer about strategies. If they believe in you, they’ll want to help. Learning how to hire the right professional photographer will certainly keep your costs lower in the long run.
Building trust and a relationship is priceless
Trust is everything in any relationship. Without it, a team just doesn’t function to its full potential. If you want to build a working relationship with your photographer, straightforward honesty from both parties is none negotiable.
If either side tries to get one over on the other it’s only a matter of time before the relationship turns bad, and who needs that. There can be a fine line sometimes where everyone is pushing themselves to create at the next level but not totally out of their depth so they fail spectacularly.
Does your photographer clearly lay out what information they need before quoting? This isn’t necessarily someone you can’t trust, but before an accurate estimate can be made, all your needs must be laid out on the table and taken into account.
Photographers are busy at different times, if they have a bunch of work at the same time of your project, you would expect them to be honest as to whether they can comfortably cover your job and deliver on your assignment.
Once you’ve built a relationship with a photographer, keeping each others respect and trust is even more important. Maybe you started work on a small project with a modest budget. Be open with them when the projects and budgets get bigger. If the trust and respect are there, a photographer would tell you if it’s getting too big for what they are comfortable with or if they are unavailable to take on the job, no matter how exciting and profitable it may be.
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Meeting your photographer in person
When possible I’d recommend meeting in person. There’s nothing like it to see if you’re a good fit. A video call can really help you get a feel for them too when time or distance is an issue. Whether they are willing to come and meet you can be a clear sign of their commitment. After all, people work with people, you want to know as much as possible about whom you are hiring into your team.
Simple signs for a good match could be, are they super interested in your business and project, beyond the money. Have they done some research on you and your business, or put any thought into the project before meeting you? Are they proactive suggesting possible ideas which you may not have thought of yet?
Since we’re after building the relationship, do you think you could work with them again?
Do you think you would you like to bring them onboard as the photography team member?
This has just been an outline showing you the benefits of hiring a professional photographer for your business. It really doesn’t matter how big your company is. The fundamental message here is trust, respect and honesty make the very best working relationships. That’s not always the way it’s been in business. Once freelancers and businesses come together as team members on a project, the approach, energy and expectations become much more constructive, creating far better outcomes.
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