There’s a wonderful discussion on LinkedIn’s “Photography Industry Professionals” group about the future of professional photography. The quote “If you think hiring a professional photographer is expensive, wait until you hire an amateur” speaks volumes. Experienced Photo Editors, Art Buyers and Creative Directors all know this. I don’t think the less experienced ones, under the crushing pressure of shrinking budgets, get the true value of hiring an experienced professional.
As budgets are cut these days, those creatives that hire photographers are hopefully not “penny-smart and pound-foolish” when it comes to photography. Sure, the guy with the cheapest quote looks attractive. But will you get what you really want for the image? All kinds of things can happen on a shoot to make it fail. It’s good to have a photographer and a camera. What about lights? The right lenses? Enough spare gear in case something fails? The right grip, assistant, stylists, crew, catering… Some shoots are bigger productions than others, but a seasoned photographer can have several things fail on a shoot and still come out with a spectacular image.
And how about budgets? An inexperienced photographer may have a much lower bid because they don’t have everything planned out for the shoot. A good quote will have all the contingency plans built in, within reason. There will be no stress, just creativity. And hopefully a great collaboration between you and the photographer to create something with vision and power.
The other thing about a great estimate is that if the budgets won’t allow for it, there’s things built in that can often be taken out without affecting the photographer’s fee. I had a recent shoot where I was asked for an estimate to do a lifestyle shoot with four models. I presented the budget (a shoot with all the trimmings), the client came back asking for a lower budget with a specific dollar amount. I reduced the number of models to two, the number of locations, images, crew and overall scope to match that budget without trimming my fee one penny. They were thrilled, because they wanted me to shoot it, and very happy with the estimate and the resulting images. It was a truly fun transaction, we were both on the same side of the table working together. That’s the way it should be.
I’m enjoying reading that thread, would love to have it started here and would love to hear what you’re doing to handle business these days. Please share, it will only help us all grow and make all our relationships with our clients better.