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5 ways to save money on photography

Many business services can get expensive, and photography is one of them. Here are five ways to save some money without compromising the results.

  • Plan ahead
  • Know your market
  • Use resources wisely
  • Choose the right photographer
  • Avoid false economies

Let me break these down.

Plan ahead—way ahead

If you don’t know where you’re going, how will you know when you get there? Think about what you’ll need, not only now, but down the road, over the next 3 or 6 months. (There’s a reason Spring Fashion Week takes place in September!) It’s often more cost effective to shoot a collection of images that you can draw on for a few months at one session than to shoot a few, come back a few weeks later for a few more, and do it yet again a few weeks later. You’ll benefit from a concept and orientation meeting with your photographer and marketing people to determine what you’ll need visually and to produce a shot list and a production plan.

Know what will engage your market

Cooking class
Participants in a cooking class.

It’s fun and appealing to produce really cool images, but you should tailor your visual approach to the market you’re trying to reach. What’s cool to twenty-somethings may not resonate with the over 50 crowd, so don’t waste money by producing images that won’t appeal to your audience.

Use your resources wisely

Stylists at Fashion Week
A model having her hair styled prior to the Custo Barcelona Spring 2013 Fashion Week show in New York.

Photographers and their assistants, stylists, talent, art directors, studios, and support services all cost money. Don’t use more than you need, but don’t leave out anything that will significantly aid the process. If you’re shooting a fashion look book, don’t try to do without a wardrobe stylist and a makeup artist.

Choose the right photographer for the job

A man and his young daughter on a porch in the country on a rainy day.
A man and his young daughter on a porch in the country on a rainy day.

Most photographers have subjects and styles that they’re good at, and some they’d rather not shoot. Shooting people? What kind: adults, teenagers, pre-teens, young children, or infants? Food and drink? I love shooting food and restaurants, but I don’t shoot splashes. Lifestyle? Fashion? Beauty? Product? A colleague of mine shot only product, and never people—he didn’t want to talk to anyone, and certainly not anyone who might talk back.

Most photographers also have price brackets they work in, so find one that fits your budget.

Avoid false economies

In an attempt to save money, a small business advertising client once suggested working in her place of business rather than in a studio. I convinced the client otherwise, and while we worked in a not-inexpensive studio, we were able to work simultaneously on three sets, each with different lighting setups, rotating the stylist and crew to fresh sets as needed, and produced a large number of photographs over the course of a long and productive day. Had we shot in the place of business, it would have taken 2 or more miserable days of tripping over each other to get the same number of images, which probably wouldn’t have been as good, and at a higher cost.

Most professional photographers are willing to discuss all these issues, so don’t be afraid to ask.

Comments? Comment here, or get in touch directly—I’m happy to talk to you.