4 pitfalls of using a photographer (and how to avoid them)

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For a small or medium-sized business, hiring a photographer isn’t something that happens every day.  And the photography industry, although full of really nice people, can sometimes be prone to making things tricky for its clients.  So we thought we’d bring you the main pitfalls to look out for, along with suggestions about how to avoid them.

Pitfall 1: The cost of the photoshoot is competitive, but the extras just keep on coming

We're not sure why, but often the photography industry seems to pile on the extras.  Fair enough, some extras take up a lot of time and should be charged for, such as advanced photo editing or sourcing models.  And in almost every industry we can think of, travel is charged as an extra, because not every client lives in the same place.  But charging extra for putting the images onto a CD or memory stick?  Or for simple post-production tasks such as removing a splodge of bird muck from a roof?  Or for getting a prop out of the prop cupboard?  Or for providing high resolution images? Really?

What to do: Check the quotation carefully to make sure that everything you may need is covered.  How will the images be delivered to you?  Will your photographer carry out simple post-production tidying up?  Some do and some don’t, so it’s best to check.

Pitfall 2: Licensing means what, exactly?

You’ve paid a handsome sum for this photoshoot, so the images are yours to do what you want with them, right? Well, not always.  Photographers almost always retain the copyright for their images, even straightforward folk like us, as it means we can use them in our portfolios.  (Of course,  copyright ownership doesn’t stop you using them too.  And if you request ownership of the copyright, that’s fine with most of us too.)  But some photographers will also only give you ‘your’ images under licence, raising the possibility that you might have to pay a fee to use them in the future. Even though they’re ‘yours’. Hmmmm….

What to do: Make sure that the quotation states that the images are yours to use as you like, forever.  Or some legal version thereof.  The Association of Photographers has a good article for clients on licensing and copyright.

Pitfall 3: Help! I don’t like my pictures!

Everyone has bad days, and photographers are no exception.  Thankfully, it’s not happened to us, but we hear the odd tale of woe, particularly from the wedding industry.  This is really unfortunate, especially in the case of weddings, which (hopefully) only happen once,  However,  there are things that can be done to minimise risk. .

What to do: Find out whether your photographer has done your kind of work before, particularly when it comes to posing people.  Does his or her portfolio have the kind of look you’re aiming for?  Are there plenty of alternative pictures from a single photoshoot in the photographer’s portfolio, not just one cherry-picked shot?  For weddings, can you find a two person team to make sure there’s back-up? And for everyone: does your photographer carry back-up equipment in case of any malfunctions?

Pitfall 4: Someone else is using my pictures!

As mentioned above, copyright ownership means that the photographer can use the images taken on your behalf for things such as promotional materials or a website gallery.  Sometimes, though, it also means that the photographer will sell your images via a photo library.  This means that the images could end up being used by third party companies for their own marketing purposes.  We don’t mean to be alarmist – the risk of this is small – but it happens.

What to do: Some photographers, like us, simply don’t sell to photo libraries, so this scenario will never occur.  Others, however, do.  It’s worth asking your photographer what his or her position is on this.  At the very least, if your photographer will only licence the images (see Pitfall 2), make sure that the licence is exclusive to you for a number of years.

For more help with choosing the right photographer for you, download our free, detailed checklist on finding and choosing a photographer.  And please get in touch if you have any questions and we’ll do our best to answer them. Thanks for reading!

About us: We offer creative and cost-effective commercial photography in North Wales.  Geoff Steen, our photographer, specialises in interiors, exteriors and corporate photography.  He has clients across North and Mid Wales, Cheshire, Merseyside and Manchester.  Find out more by visiting our commercial photography pages.

Posted by: Jane