In today’s world, everyone and their granddad have a digital camera and with this prevalence of amateur photographers you could be asking yourself,” why would I even bother paying money to a professional for something I could do myself?” This is a very valid question…. I probably know better than most what a great, professional image can do for getting those all important phone calls. I see many new businesses making the mistake of saving a few quid on the overall branding and look of their business. Your business is made up from the adverts you take out or the brochures people pick up and this is how you get new clients, new business. You have to persuade someone who has never met you before to stop, look and make a note to come and see you all from a folded piece of A4 paper. Amateur photographs stand out a mile away and because they look like everyone else’s photographs they are easily ignored. A great photograph on the front of your brochure/advert/poster will grab people’s attention and interest, holding it long enough to encourage them to read more and actually notice what you are selling. We are constantly bombarded with advertising messages and with this over saturation we simply switch off. A good business woman knows that you need to switch potential customers back on; just getting them to notice is a huge step towards a sale. If you can make an impact in two seconds you are 75% of the way there. We are visual. We see colors first, patterns second and thirdly, content. If something we see peaks our interest or tugs at our emotions, it is our natural instinct to check it out… we are a very curious species. Using this knowledge, professional portrait photographers and professional fashion photographer create very emotional images with visual impact that will capture and hold your subjects attention for more than a second. It takes years to learn how to arrange and compose a well-lit, emotion filled photograph of the most mundane of objects; pro photographers have spent thousands on learning their craft from the best and also have the best equipment needed for any particular kind of job. Accurate ratios, visual impact, leading lines, sharpness, color contrast, dark/light field, emotional content, lighting ratios, zone markers, depth of field and many more things are going through a professional photographers mind during a shoot. A pro photographer will consider everything subconsciously and get exactly what their client is looking for. Before hiring a professional photographer you need to ask yourself, “what should my business make others feel?” is it nostalgia, excitement, uniqueness? Finding your overall ‘feel’ is important as you need to marry both the images and text of your advertising and marketing materials together to create the brand of your company. Next you need to work out your budget, cash flow is important. As a new business you need to keep a check on what you are spending and work within that budget. If you find a photographer that is perfect for you but is out of your price range, note them down for future reference and find someone cheaper. Asking for a discount may get you a cheaper price but it is rude, you wouldn’t want them to ask you for a discount now would you? You may be able to trade or barter with a photographer for part of the cost; this isn’t rude. However be prepared for a “no” and accept it graciously. If the photographer that you really want is unavailable (either fully booked or too expensive) then ask them for recommendations, she may know others who are cheaper or have the style you are going for. Remember you get what you pay for so hire the best photographer that you can afford, do not go for the cheapest you can find. Payment for photographers is upfront. If you don’t pay when you say you will then your photographer may refuse to take the photographs until payment is made in full, this is standard policy. They are running a business as well and need money to operate. Professional photographers will rarely take money after the shoot is completed. Be aware that photographers who take the payment after the photography session are not bound law to give you the photographs until they are paid, this means that you may end up waiting a very long time for the photographs or even never receiving them ever. Your photographer should ask you for the name and contact details of your printers; this is to ensure that everything goes as smoothly as possible and that the photographs will print at the right size and with correct colors. A pre-shoot consultation with your photographer is a must. You both need to talk about what kind of images you need and also to arrange a time and place to do them. During the consultation you can ask as many questions as you like and be prepared to answer a few yourselves! Get together any past marketing materials that you have and try to find some pictures of the styles you like. If you have a layout proof from your printers, show that to the photographer as well, they need to know whether they should take photographs landscape or portrait format. If you don’t have a layout proof, then ask the portrait photographer to take both portrait and landscape format images, they should do this anyway but always ask, just in case. On the day of the shoot try to get everything ready before the photographer arrives, if you are running a hotel, then make sure you have cleaned and tidied up everywhere that is going to be photographed. Don’t rely on the photographer to spot that dirty glass on the windowsill. Make sure it is gone before she gets there. If you are selling products then choose the best of the bunch, clean and neat is the way to go here. Only allow the photographs to be of your best stock! Professional photography takes time. Product shots take the most time, allow at least a whole 8 hour day for this and havegraduation photographer a check list ready to make sure that nothing is missed. Portraits and headshots shouldn’t take longer than half a day although it does depend on how many people are to be photographed. Allow an hour leeway for setting up and dismantling though. Architectural shots can take up to a day and a professional studio photographer will take their time. Indoor, room photographs have to be lit with separate lights, these take the most time to set up and test. She may also have to wait for decent light for outside/exterior photographs which could even mean that she will have to come back another day. Ask your photographer about this, she will let you know how it works. After the photographer has finished, she will let you know how long to wait before you see your proofs/contact images. A professional will only show you post-processed images so expect to wait up to four weeks to see them. If you are in a hurry to get them done, you can ask for a rush service. This will cost extra so expect to be charged about half of what you paid initially again. A rush service will mean you receive your proofs/contact images within two weeks. I would recommend that you book your photography for at least three months in advance of your publication date. This means you are not paying extra for a rush service and you have ample time to look and ask for any changes to your photographs. Once you are happy with the images you can give the go ahead for the photographer to send them to your printers. The photographer should send them in the correct format and color space for their printer. Make sure they offer this service during the initial consultation.

By Haadi