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As a small ( or not so small ) business owner / creative there will perhaps come a time to consider hiring a professional photographer for a photoshoot. Whether it’s for a headshot / portrait, product photography for your website or social media, a market stall application, event photography, pitch to a magazine… but where do you begin?
There are many things to consider - including choosing the actual photographer, but first up is usually the budget - what can you afford? Perhaps you have the $’s to fly to the Maldives with a team of stylists, models and make-up artists - but realistically, most of us don’t!
After you’ve established your rough budget, most photographers will work in hourly or half day / full day rates. Their rates are usually dependant on their skill and experience, plus post production and editing time on your chosen images.
Communication with your chosen photographer is key - from the outset, know what you want and whether it is achievable in the time frame that meets your budget. Shooting 50 products in 2 locations in 1 hour is unlikely!
Licensing of images
There are usually licensing or usage costs per image - this will vary from photographer to photographer and the client. For example, the terms of usage for a big brand’s large scale advertising campaign would generally cost more than a small business product shoot. There may be usage limitations on the images, and a smaller usage will often equate to a smaller fee. Some examples of usage are:
Usage for social media content only.
Photography for use in a packaging / element of a new product or that will be a product for resale.
Photography of your business / product for your website and branding.
Some photographers may also set a time frame limitations in licensing. One example is that you might have usage of those images for 12 months, then they will be available for you to re-license for an additional time and fee. Or they will give you total rights to those images for 6-12 months and then after that the photographer may license the images to another company or magazine.
How to find a photographer
Unless you have a good friend or a family member that is a professional photographer, it can be difficult to know where to start. Word of mouth is usually the easiest way - ask around your network. There are also many creative networking groups online where you can post a job and then go through the photographers profile/ website. Another good way is to look on social media at other brands/ imagery that you like and see who they have used. Many will include a photographer’s credit on a shoot.
Questions to ask/ things to think about prior to booking a shoot
Location: Where will the photo shoot take place? Is it in your own home/ office/ studio? Does the photographer work from their own studio? Will your shoot be on location, in a public space?
Some locations require permits for a photo shoot, with approval and payment prior to the shoot taking place. As an example, see Heide Museum which has requirements for using their site. With this in mind, is the location/ studio hire an additional cost to add into your budget ? Is the location out of town, and will it incur an additional photographer’s travel fee?
Props: Will you be sourcing the props / backdrops yourself or will you be employing a stylist ? A photographer will often have an existing supply of props or backdrops, however there may be a need for prop hire for flowers, food, additional products, plinths etc. Who will supply what ? Can you borrow items from friends ? Many retail shops will also hire furniture and props for a fee.
Create a brief: What exactly are you after ? Try to include any image examples/ sketches /mood board /colour /vibe etc. Pinterest is a great tool for this. Here’s an example of a food mood board I created recently.
Set a time frame: Do you require the images under a tight deadline? Most photographers will have a 1-2 week turnaround on post production of images, if not longer. If you need images ASAP, there may be an additional fee.
Know what you want, so that you can communicate your needs to your photographer, then they can provide a quote.
Here’s an example…
I was approached via email to shoot a product range of 5 new artwork prints, with the possibility of photographing the existing range if time permitted. I met in person with the business owner of Gussy - Simone (who agreed to me including this shoot here) to discuss further and to provide a quote.
Considerations were her budget, the time required for the shoot - we agreed upon a half day / 4 hour shoot. The chosen location was her home interior, utilising 6 different rooms. Each artwork required individual styling, using props from her home, my collection or borrowed from friends. So additional costs were minimal. We set ourselves the target of photographing her entire range of 18 prints in 4 hours, prioritising the new edition prints. We discussed that the images were for her website and social media/ promotion.
We created a Pinterest board and Simone organised a shot list, including which artworks would hang where within her home and with what props to suit each artwork, so time was not wasted on the day.
Here are some of the images from the shoot:
One thing to also consider with image usage is that we shoot in either and landscape or portrait mode, however posting to Instagram or your website design may be square - so images will need to be cropped. Remember to discuss this as an option in your usage/ editing or composition at the shoot. Also websites such as Shopify have their own file specifications / colour management.
Find a Photographer you can work and communicate with, ask questions - it may seem daunting, but most of us are nice!!!
Based in Melbourne, Australia, Natalie Jeffcott is a professional freelance photographer - specialising in editorial, interiors, small business lifestyle and product photography.
All images by Natalie Jeffcott.