HOW TO WORK WITH A COMMERCIAL PHOTOGRAPHER AND WHY : Part 6
Sep 4, 2017 | By: David Morris Photography
HOW TO WORK WITH A COMMERCIAL PHOTOGRAPHER, AND WHY
Part 6: How do I get the most value from a photographer?
Since we’re on the topic of words that start with “V” - Value - I’d like to talk about another word that starts with “V”: ‘Vendor”
Now, I realize that companies need labels to help them keep things straight, and accountants need lists to categorize expenses, and HR departments need to be able to put people into slots for filing and reporting - but if you begin your relationship with a photographer thinking of him or her as a ‘vendor”, you are going to miss out on a lot of “Value”. Professional photographers aren’t vendors like your local auto parts store or your local Target store where you go and pick out widgets or items that are pre-made and produced you the millions. A professional photographer is a vendor that does very specific “Custom” photography for your specific specifications and communication needs. A professional photographer is more like a custom jewelry design that will make a custom engagement ring for your bride that conveys how special she is to you. A ring the is unique to her that no one else will ever have. Another example would be a custom hot rod shop where they will take your 1963 split window Corvette and customize it to look like no one else’s in the world.
Generally, there are a couple of reasons you contacted a professional commercial photographer. You need outstanding “CUSTOM” one of a kind images that will attract the attention of the people you are marketing to. Let’s be honest, if you didn’t need “Custom” images you would be buying stock photography. Kind of like the Walmart of image vendors. Nothing unique, and a thousand other companies are likely using the same image. The other popular reason is that you don’t have the time, years of experience, or equipment to make custom images that stand out and get attention, in-house.
Like purchasing a “Custom” engagement ring or a “Custom” hot rod, custom photography is not inexpensive, but it will give you more “Value” to your marketing efforts. Having said that, there are some ways to get more “Value” from a photographer and your photography project. Let me give you some examples:
The more individual shots you do the more cost-effective a photo shoot will be. If you only request 1 image to be photographed it will cost more per unit than if you need 25 photographs. It’s called volume economics or economy of scale.
Be a specific as possible with your estimate request. Give them a number of examples of the look and feel you want your project to have. Give them a list of shots. Let them know what involvement if any you want to have. What are you supplying? What are your expectations? Who will be the decision maker that approves the final image? Will they be in the photo shoot? ETC. ETC.
Believe it or not but the quicker they get paid the more “Value” you can get from your photographer. If they know they won’t get paid for 60, 90, now even 120 days after they’ve invoice you, they’re not going to be as charitable or give you extras. If you pay at the end of the shoot or within 20 days of the invoice date, they’ll bend over backward in many cases for you. If that’s not possible set up a pay
Be a partner/collaborator. Working together as a team will always get you more “Value”. Whenever there is mutual respect for what each party brings to the table, “Value” to both parties improves.
Chances are, you’re going to look for and hire a commercial photographer that has a unique “Visual Communication” style that will set your product or the story you want to convey apart from everyone else. Set some parameters for them and let them do what you’ve hired them to do. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give them some general suggestions as your shooting or let them know if the design of the image needs to be different. However, micro-managing every aspect of the shot will more than likely be counterproductive and reduce the “Value” they can bring to the project. As I’ve mentioned before a good policy for life and business is: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. By putting yourself in the other person’s shoes, mutually respecting each other, and each party working to find a win-win outcome will always lead to getting the best “Value” from any photographer you work with.
Finally, commercial photography studios generally have slow seasons. In general, my experience is, November through January ( the holiday season) and July through August (vacation season) are slower times of the year for commercial photographers. If you can schedule your projects during these times, you will most likely get more flexibility and a better "Value" from the photographer. ment plan where you pay half at the end of the shoot and the other half in 30 days. Cash flow is king!