Part 3 of 3: How do I find the right photographer, and what’s this going to cost?

If you missed the earlier posts on this subject, they seem to have disappeared from my website when we moved to a new server. I’m looking …

How do I find the best photographer for my project?

 

Wine director Richard Cappiello, in the plaid shirt, discussing the wine with a table of diners. Pearl & Ash, Bowery. Shot for the N Y Times.

A little like choosing a wine—it helps to know who to trust for advice.

To find a photographer, you can search the web, you can look in professional directories like the American Society of Media Photographers’ Find a Photographer, or websites like The Photo Closer, and you can ask friends and colleagues for referrals. Do all that. And

  • Look for a photographer who can provide the style and quality of image you need.
  • Look for a photographer who asks about the nature of the project, the nature of your business, and how you want to convey your values visually.
  • Look for a photographer who wants to see examples of images similar in style to those you’d like to have.
  • Look for a photographer who wants to sit down with you, your marketing team and your art director to discuss the project. (And who thinks it’s just fine if those last two jobs are also held by you.)
  • Look for a photographer who is open about pricing. (See “What’s all this going to cost?”, below.)
  • Look for a photographer who is pleasant and fun to work with. You could be spending a day or more with this person, so why would you want to work with someone who is cranky, narcissistic, or who has some other personality disorder? I have clients who’ve come to me because they hated their previous pain-in-the-ass photographer.
  • Look for a photographer who enjoys working with a team, a team that should include you, your marketing department, your art people, and his crew. The best work has an entire team’s input.
  • Look for a photographer who is relational rather than transactional. Unless your photo needs are strictly one time and it’s over—and most businesses are not like that—it’s great to work with someone who can deliver your look and feel consistently over time. Think of your photographer as part of your marketing and branding team.

What is all this going to cost?

Nearly everybody hates to talk about money, but without it, your photos will not happen, so what is all this going to cost? It depends. (I know, I know, you hate that answer.) But it’s true. The cost will depend on usage, on production expenses, and on the individual photographer’s fees. I have very few flat rate prices, in large part because every job is different and requires different resources. But I do provide line-item, no-surprise estimates, so my clients know what to expect, when to expect it. And not only what it will cost but what, exactly, they’re paying for. You should get the same.

I’ve left the money discussion until the last for good reason. Most photographers are willing to discuss budgets early on in the process, and this can be helpful for you as well as for them. If I ask a potential client what their budget is, the usual answer from someone who has never previously bought photography is “I don’t have a specific budget.” But if I quote a range, like “Is your budget closer to $2,000 or $10,000?” I can often get a sense of what they can afford and of what their expectations are. In the end, there’s a value triangle: You can have it fast.You can have it cheap. You can have it great. Choose two.

Value-triangleMy job as a photographer is to produce images that will make you money by conveying visually what you do or sell in a way that will appeal to your customers and potential customers. This is a different goal than that, say, of a wedding photographer, whose value is in creating images that are memorable reminders of a personal event. My photos should create revenue for you, and when they do, I’ve done my job well.

If you missed the earlier posts on this subject, they seem to have disappeared from my website when we moved to a new server. I’m looking …

If you have questions, or a project in mind, you can get in touch here.

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