When you’re looking for a new car, TV or something equally as expensive, you take your time to look at all the benefits, features and price before making a purchasing decision; yet the majority of people looking for a professional photography base their comparisons purely on price alone. Just like cars and TV’s, when looking for a photographer, for whatever occasion, there’s a lot more to be compared other than price.
If you’re looking to hire a professional photographer here are some additional questions you can ask to help compare one from the other.
- 1. Do you have public liability insurance? I can almost guarantee that any photographer operating at the lower end of the price spectrum most certainly will not have public liability insurance. For the majority of the time it shouldn’t be an issue, that is until it’s needed.In the extremely rare chance of a photographer losing your diamond engagement ring down the drain, or one of their studio lights falling overs and hitting a member of your family, you need to have confidence that they have sufficient insurance to cover any loses. Nobody plans not to have an accident, they just happen.
- 2. How long will it take to get my photographs? Busy photographers can shoot 2 or 3 weddings a week in the peak season resulting in having to sort and edit thousands of photographs in a short period of time. If they are doing all the work themselves, you can expect a longer wait than you would if they had a team of re-touchers working for them. Ask yourself how long you a prepared to wait, then see what the photographs says is a typical lead time. If the two a similar, put a tick in the box and ensure the deadline is written into your contract/agreement. You also need to know up front what penalty the photographer will pay for not having the photographs ready on time. Again, ensure this is in the contract.
- 3. What happens if I don’t like the photographs you’ve provided? This is a challenging problem, but if you’ve done your homework before hiring a photographer it can easily be avoided. Like any commercial arrangement you need to be satisfied with how the photographer intends to remedy this issue before committing to hiring them.
- 4. Who will take my photographs and what happens if they are not available? It’s not uncommon for photographers to trade on their name, however if they are not the ones that are going to be taking your photographs then you need to know up front. Equally, what provisions do they have in place if they for whatever reason are become unavailable to complete the photography assignment. On most occasions it can be mitigated by re-arranging for a future date, however when it is your wedding, this isn’t going to be possible, so you need to be certain of an alternative plan that your happy with. Equally, if you need to cancel or postpone ask the photographer if there is a cancellation fee.
- 5. What happens if it rains or if some other event prevents the shoot from going ahead? Just like people get sick, natural events such an inclement weather, or earthquakes can occur which can prevent a shoot from going ahead. You need to be clear of your position should any such event eventuate.
- 6. Who owns the photographs? In New Zealand, any person who commissions a photographer owns the copyright of the photographs created, however the majority of professional photographers will have a clause in their agreement assigning the copyright back to themselves. For most people, this isn’t an issue, but it might be for you, so it’s worth checking.
- 7. What size digital files will I get? If you’ve signed up to a digital image package, you should know up front the size and file type of the images the photographer intends to provide. Unless agreed, they could well provide files which are only suitable for social media and not good enough to print.
- 8. How long will the photography take and how many images will I receive? This will vary from photographer to photographer, but it’s important to know before entering into an agreement. Some photographers will charge a sitting fee and then provide individual images for sale, whilst others will charge a single fee for the session as well as a fixed number of images.
- 9. How long do you keep the images for? You may well not be able to afford to pay for all the photographs you want, or you may lose the digital files provided. It is therefore a good idea to know how long the photographer keeps the digital files before deleting them.
- 10. Will you be using my photographs on social media or for advertising? Photographers may want to use your images for their social media, advertising or competition purposes. If they retain the copyright, then there’s little you can do to stop them, however any good photographer should ask your permission before using your images publicly regardless of who owns the copyright. It’s a good idea to have something that covers this in the agreement.