Are you a business owner who has decided that raising the bar with quality photography is in order?
Perhaps your next thought process is to say I’ll write to three photographers and get a quote for X and take the cheapest.
Then the quotes come and it looks like a lot of money.
Now you’re thinking, it’s only a couple of hours of shooting for a few shots, why does it cost so much? Fair enough.
There are several factors that influence how a commercial photographer will charge:
- their qualifications/accreditation/proven experience (track record)
- their equipment (one lens can cost $2500)
- image usage terms (licensing)
- their time
Today let’s just focus on that final one – time.
Popular thought is that all the photographer has to do is show up, click the button a few times, dump some files onto their computer and send you a link to an online gallery from which you can pick your favourites.
Photographers who call themselves professional, but aren’t, will do exactly that. And their pricing will reflect that.
Photographers who call themselves professional, and are, won’t do that.
And their pricing will reflect that.
You get what you pay for.
Service is an indicator of price, of which time is one factor.
Spend your time wisely with your photographer.
It means you will get the best result possible, on brand message and you won’t have to waste time and money re-shooting with a new photographer.
There are five ways to maximise your time with a photographer so that you can walk away with a killer result that you’re proud to show.
To illustrate the points meet Monique Bayer from Walk Melbourne Tours.
Her business runs walking tours that are designed to share Melbourne’s stories through food.
Monique followed these five steps to the letter and has an extensive image collection which contains:
- business owner portraits (of her)
- two complete walking tours
- specific images of food, lane-ways and buildings
- the Melbourne skyline at night
…all captured smoothly in the same day without a single hiccup.
In the absence of anything else to go on, a commercial photographer will focus on capturing what you do.
Your market seeks to understand why they should do business with you and imagery is a tool you can use to showcase that.
Why your business is what it is, is wrapped up in your brand.
Brand = your product (what, how) and its meaning (why) in a three-way combination.
Brief your photographer on your company’s brand vision, why/what/how you deliver a great experience, what’s unique about your business, where you’ll be in 5-10 years, etc.
In Walk Melbourne Tours’ case, it’s all about unveiling Melbourne’s mysteries, delivering a tactile, physical experience that provides wonderment and serving up quality, delicious food and beverages throughout the experience.
Tip: Do your brand homework. For example, complete Your Brand Story Checklist.
#2 Time of year/day
Season may be a factor for your business. In Australia in the warm months the sun sits high in the sky, is bright and lasts until the early hours of the evening.
The temperature is balmy which means short sleeves and more skin. Winter time gives a softer light and less light throughout the day. Winter calls for warm clothing and scarves.
Walk Melbourne Tours delivers tours all year round, rain or shine. Of course, walking through the rain has a certain, evocative possibility, but for the most part, a walking tour would normally call for good weather. Our discussions started in December in advance of our photo session for the following February.
Tip: If your business showcases at its best at a particular time of year, then factor that in because its worth waiting for.
It’s easy to assume that for every hour a photographer is with you, the more it will cost you. But, it could take your photographer one hour to create one single image, and by contrast it could take them ten minutes to create fifty images.
Like assembling ingredients to make a cake, constructing just one image takes time. It involves technical, creative and logistical factors – all at the same time. Ask your photographer how much time they think they need rather than expect them to do everything in the shortest time possible. All that serves to do is rush them which won’t work to your favour in the long run.
Monique allowed one hour to capture her portrait collection, two hours for each of her tours, and one hour at the end for the Melbourne skyline at night. Including transfers we started at 3pm and finished at 10:30pm. Scheduling came second once we were clear on what she actually wanted to capture.
Tip: Choose a photographer that does not charge by the hour or day, but rather charges by the project. Allowing an extra hour for something here or there can make a huge difference to your final outcome later.
Business owners often mistakenly think that it’s a top-down relationship where the photography is out of their hands, that it’s all up to the photographer…period.
If your photographer works collaboratively, this actually won’t be the case. During your shoot ask to see the results your photographer is creating. Sure, not every image you see on the back of the camera will make the final cut, but you’ll get that instant feedback and can make adjustments accordingly if necessary.
Monique checked how her portraits were progressing. We arrived at the best poses as we went along that were comfortable for her. At the tours, she checked how the images were coming along as they were captured to be sure nothing was missed, and she watched in real time as the skyline pictures were taken to be sure they matched with what she had in mind.
Tip: Avoid nasty surprises by involving yourself in the decisions that are made as your photographer is shooting in real time.
#5 Hands off
If you’ve followed steps 1-4, then by the time you say good-bye to your photographer on shooting day, that should be all your work done and dusted. Great pre-planning and clear communication means that image selection and post-production should be a straight-forward and independent step for your photographer.
Your final collection should be cohesive, on point and produced to match with your pre-existing brand colours/tone/feel. For every hour that your photographer works with you, you can expect that same time for them to do post-production on your images.
From a raw body of 461 captures, Monique walked away with 189 finals.
Monique was very clear that she didn’t want her pictures to look too ‘Photoshopped’.
She understood that post-production meant taking the raw ingredients of her ‘cake’ and putting them in the oven to bake and be ready for use, that we didn’t go over the top dressing the images later with unnecessary frosting and fancy plates!
Tip: Beware the photographer that sends you to an image gallery to make the editing choices. Part of their professional service is to offer decision making skills on which images will best serve you according to your vision.
I truly hope you have a brilliant outcome with your chosen photographer when it comes to managing your time all the way through the process.
Thank you to Monique Bayer, of Walk Melbourne Tours, for featuring your images here.
If you’d like to explore ways we can work together to capture the life in your business, it’s as simple as starting with an obligation-free 20 minutes phone appointment.
Here’s what Monique had to say in response to her experience of collaborating to capture her brand story:
‘Beth is particularly good at preparing you for the day. You certainly know that she’s clear on what you’d like to achieve, which is not the case with many photographers. Beth photographed me for my professional brand portraits and the tour experiences that Walk Melbourne Tours offer. Beth captures natural, spontaneous moments. For much of the shoot on tour, we forgot she was there which made the subjects much more relaxed.
I was also really impressed at her post production. She enhanced the images post-shoot, without the appearance of them looking ‘Photoshopped’. This was very important to me. I recommend working with Beth because you feel like you are in safe, professional hands.’ Monique Bayer, Walk Melbourne Tours