Commercial Photography FAQ for Clients
Here are some of the Commercial Photography FAQ, questions commonly asked regarding commercial and corporate photography services.
1. How do I select the photographer for my project?
Most commercial photographers have areas of specialisation, so make sure that whomever you use has the experience, skills and equipment for the particular task at hand. A professional will tell you if they are not the right person for your assignment.
Factors to consider in your decision should be:
- Creative talent – judged from their portfolio
- Experience – judged from their CV, client base and portfolio
- Professionalism – judged from their presentation and approach as well as from their clients base and references
- Compatibility – could you work comfortably with this person?
- Appropriate equipment – ask them to explain to you what is specifically best for your project’s needs and why
- Enthusiasm – for their work and for your project!
2. How can I get the most out of my location photography project?
Be clear about your objectives: the very first thing is to discuss what you are trying to achieve – what do you want the photograph to communicate, what are these pictures for?
Good photographers are good communicators, so involve them early, make them a part of your team.
- Meet on site: if possible, organise a site visit at the proposed location prior to the work.
- Ask for suggestions and ideas – it’s highly likely that someone with experience has confronted
something like your project before.
- Allow enough time: careful planning and sufficient pre-production time is critical to a good outcome for all concerned – good photographers are interested in quality and effective imagery just as much as you are. If you are uncertain about your needs, ask questions.
- Communicate with all your team: it’s always important to put your photographer in touch with any graphic designers or other creative people involved with the project – after all, they will have to use the pictures. If the photographer envisages a really nice horizontal panorama and the designer is imagining a vertical shot – they need to talk to each other!
- Remember that the quality of your photographs is a reflection of your image as well.
3. How do commercial photographers charge?
Most people understand the importance of accurately defining the scope of any type of work in order to come up with a realistic fee, so it will come as no surprise that as much detail as possible about an assignment is needed before an estimate can be given, including information about image requirements, usage, deadlines, site logistics and other specifics.
Commercial photography is priced according to the nature of the work and the client’s usage requirements. Factors that affect the fee include:
- the anticipated use of the images
- the photographer’s creative talent and experience
- production time, equipment, facilities and staff
- The creative fee also must cover services in addition to the photography itself, such as pre- and post-production time.
4. What other costs are involved besides the actual photography time?
These will vary with each project but may include:
- time with pre-production
- location recce: site inspections or liaising with people on site for specific access
- post-production costs of processing and editing
- post-production costs with handling and editing and converting high resolution digital files
- assistant’s fees and travel expenses
- rental fees for special equipment
- stylist’s and make up artist’s charges
- location access fees, talent fees, special insurance costs
- a photograph may require post production retouching
5. To get an idea of budget, what should I ask for?
Make sure you are clear what you are asking for – a fixed quotation or an estimate. Estimates are usually given in a non-competitive situation and may be flexible depending on the nature of the project.
However a quotation will have a bottom line that includes all the factors needed to create the images you need for the purpose you have outlined. Some photographers in the industry work on a ‘day rate’. Comparing day rates within other photographers’ quotations can be misleading, as there are lots of other factors that go into getting the right picture created, which the day rates may not include.
6. How can I ensure the best value for my budget?
Don’t just compare prices: compare the style and the professional way in which the work will be undertaken. With professional photography you get what you pay for. The value of the photographs to the client is a big factor in determining the fee. Don’t cut corners on quality: rather, discuss with the photographer other ways to get the pictures you want. There will always be someone willing to photograph your project for less, but look for value, not price. Professional expertise and experience will save you money and headache in the long run.
7. Where can I view my photos and can we have all of them?
Following your photography session, all images from the photoshoot will be uploaded to a secure online gallery, where you can select your favourite photos. After your selection, final images are professionally retouched and you will be notified when they’re ready for final viewing and approval. All images will be optimised and edited to a professional standard.
8. Who owns the copyright to my project’s photographs?
Under Australian copyright law, as creator of the images the photographer own the copyright in any images they make and the usual practice is to license the use of the pictures to you as the client by agreement. So naturally, the more extensive the usage, the greater the fee.
As copyright owner the photographer has the right to control copying, reproduction, distribution and display of the photographs. The possession of photographic material, such as slides, prints, transparencies or digital files, does not grant the right to reproduce the images. If you plan to give the photographs to others who were not involved in the assignment, or if you have received photographs without written permission for their use, please contact the photographer for license rights.
Copyright and the right to use the pictures cannot be transferred without consent of the copyright owner. Agreements should be in writing, and, to protect everyone’s interests and prevent misunderstandings, agreements should be signed by both parties.
Read more about Copyright in Australia here.
7. Social Media & Credit to Photographers
In my freelance photography practise I strongly encourage all users to appropriately credit any photographer’s work whether on Social Media or any other online and offline publications (whenever it is practically possible). This avoids unnecessary misunderstandings, potential problems with misuse of the agreed licence and helps showcase photographers and clients work.