Photography is a profession. Everyone has a camera today, but most people still don’t realize photography can be and is a profession. Because of this there are expectations on both sides of the camera. I wanted to share some of my thoughts on the profession of photography, because it’s really more than simply pushing the button. As always, I want to put the caveat out these are only my observations and experiences on the business of being a photographer. Other photographers and individuals hiring a photographer will have different opinions and experiences.
OK with that, here are some general observations:
- Call Sheet - If a photographer sends a call sheet (or equivalent), please read it. A call sheet documents the time, location, image use, creative team names, contact information, items to bring, etc., etc. It’s frustrating how often clients or model calls / texts me to ask where the shoot is located, or what time do we start, etc. It’s one thing to ask for confirmation, get clarification or reconfirm - that’s cool - but not to read it at all?
- Turn Around Time – Post processing takes time. Unless it’s discussed / agreed in advance and is a paid shoot (the photographer is being paid) it’s important to allow sufficient time for the photographer to turn around processed photos. It’s a rookie move to ask the photographer for images earlier than committed, or right after the shoot. Note; this WILL vary from photographer to photographer, so discuss in advance.
- Ask for Photos – But at the same time, if the photographer is not holding up their end of the bargain you have EVERY right to pester the photographer. Ask politely for a turnaround time or an update. Photographers who don’t keep to their commitments give us all a bad rap.
- Get What You Paid For – don’t ask for more photos than agreed, unless you pay. At the same time if you don’t get the number committed then you have the right to ask, “what’s up”.
- Number Please - Provide a contact number. Get the photographer’s phone number (it should be on the call sheet). Never know when it’s needed on or before the shoot date.
- You Want What? - Be careful asking for TFP (free) photoshoots. Every photographer does (or should) provide TFP shoots occasionally. OK, some don’t. However, you should always plan to pay for a photoshoot. This is especially true if you have no consideration (what does the photographer get in return) to offer the photographer, or you are make money from the photos or they are for you promotion purposes. Bottom-line it’s OK to ask, but don’t take it personally if the answer is no.
- How Much – Ask a photographer for his / her rate sheet or cost. Ask what you receive for the rate. Be reasonable with your negotiations. Don’t be offended if the photographer doesn’t negotiate, can’t meet your budget or says NO. Remember, this is business.
- Follow-up, It’s Easy – if you ask a photographer for their rates or express an interest in shooting then PLEASE follow-up. Even a “thanks for sending your rates”, “thanks but that’s more than I can spend at this time”, or “thanks I’ll let you know if I want to schedule something in the future” is appreciated. Don’t leave the photographer hanging. How would you like it if you express and interest and the photographer never contacts you or follows-up…yep, thought so.
- Follow-up Part Deux – This may be obvious, but tell the photographer what images you want (unless it’s agreed that the photographer will pick for you) and in a timely fashion. I’m stunned at the number of times I do a photoshoot, get some good shots, send a selection sheet and never hear back from the person. So strange…did I do something wrong, didn’t like my photos? I’ll send 1 follow-up but that’s it. Also, do it in a timely fashion.
- Pay Up – I’ve been burned, and trust me it’s not fun. If it’s a paid photoshoot, then pay as agreed when agreed. Because I’ve been burned I require payment (except from trusted clients) either before the shoot starts or immediately after the photoshoot. Don’t expect to receive photos until after you pay. Corporate clients may not be able to do this, but the payment details should be discussed before the shoot.
- Shadowing a Shoot – I receive requests to be shadowed. Typically the request is from a new photographer or someone moving into the genre. It’s completely A-OK to ask, but don’t take it personally if the answer is no. It’s sometimes hard to focus on the client or people you’re photographing if also watch over someone else. I’ve actually had a client tell me, “no one else on the set unless approved”. Same goes for requests to assist. Normally, this comes with a higher standard because you need to demonstrate skills. Ask the photographer if they host workshops or do one-on-one sessions.
- No Changes – DON’T manipulate or change a photograph you receive. Don’t add a filter, don’t process it, don’t crop it (this is generally OK if the photographer is cool with it), don’t put text on it, etc.
- Give Credit – ALWAYS give your photographer & creative team when posting a photo on social media.
There are many more thoughts on the business of photography. If you are taking photos with your friends, taking selfies, behind the scene shots, then knock yourself out and go wild. However, when working with a professional photographer these simple business practices will make the experience amazing on both sides of the camera.