How to find the right photographer
Not every professional photographer can work in every genre of photography. A photographer who takes family portraits and weddings is not necessarily the one to shoot a picture of your Board of Directors.
Your first stop is to see our Photographer Members' work, which can be viewed by clicking here. All members of the AOP have been vetted by their peers to verify their professionalism and standard of image quality. Professional photographers all have websites, and AOP member sites can be accessed through this portal to show you their full range of images. Their website is an ideal way to view their style, expertise, and clients they have worked for.
Every professional photographer will also have a portfolio to further demonstrate their work, this is their main representation and shows their skills and experience in a proven, and varied, package. We strongly suggest you ask the photographer to bring in their portfolio so you can see the quality of their images in printed form as well as meeting them. A good relationship with the photographer is very important for both you and your business.
Should the photographer you choose have an agent, you will usually negotiate with them as the ‘go-between’ – they are the photographer’s representative and will deal with the business side of the commission. They are paid a commission by the photographer and will not incur you any extra expense.
Why use a professional photographer?
As cameras grow in digital sophistication it has become easier for everyone to get pleasing results for apparently little cost. However, using an amateur to take an important picture can be a false economy. The impact a professionally taken image has on a client’s market is far stronger than that of a quickly grabbed snap from a digital camera. Professional photography will sell your product or your company, amateur photography will not.
Photographers are not just technicians. A professional understands how to capture images that are right for a client’s business and convey the message required. Their experience enables them to obtain successful results in any situation. It is as important for the photographer as it is you that the images are right for your business and convey the message you require. As a proportion of your media/print budget, the cost of getting the original imagery as good as it can be is tiny.
A professional photographer will hold all the necessary insurances eg public liability, professional indemnity, employers liability etc.. They will also have contacts for third party professionals, if required, for models, props, set building or locations.
When commissioning a photographer the images they produce will be exclusive to you. Images you buy from a photographic library are not exclusive to you, unless you negotiate an exclusive deal with them. This means other companies, which may be similar to yours with similar products, will be able to licence the same image and use it for their own products or company.
Negotiating exclusivity with a library is often more expensive than commissioning a photographer, and you are still unaware if the image has been previously licenced by a possible competitor.
A commissioned image is original and reflects your company and products only.
How do photographers charge?
There are no set rates in photography. The majority of professional photographers will charge a day rate, although some may charge by the hour.
The type of commission and specialisation will generally dictate the fee but photographers will also take into account a number of other factors to determine the cost including:
- Where the work is to be used initially eg on packaging, annual reports, billboards, national press, website
- The length of time the work is to be used by you
- The territory or territories in which the work is to be used
If you have a tight budget, discuss this with the photographer (or their agent) who can advise if it is realistic and what you can expect for your proposed budget. Be aware that if other professionals ie models, stylists, set builders etc are needed, these will be charged on top of the photographer’s fee, as will digital capture or film and processing. The photographer will estimate these extra costs for you initially so you know exactly where your budget is going, and allowing for any necessary changes before the shoot begins.
There is a misconception that if the images are shot digitally, rather than on film, that this is a cheaper way of producing images. This is not true. Some photographers will still shoot on film but deliver the images in a digital form whilst the majority will shoot and deliver digitally. Both methods incur costs.
- In order to produce high quality digital images, a lot of time and skill is necessary after the shoot to ensure the final images are of the highest quality before presentation to the client, and ultimately for reproduction.
- A professional photographer has to invest heavily in good and up to date equipment. This equipment needs to be replaced/upgraded frequently to ensure it meets the standards required to produce professional results.
For more information about digital charges Click Here.
Who owns the copyright in the images?
The photographers (as the author of the image) owns the copyright in their images. In the same way that musicians control who can reproduce their music, photographers control who can reproduce their images. Authors of original works own the copyright in their work and this is enshrined in legislation – the Copyright Designs & Patents Act 1988 – more information on copyright ownership can be found at www.ipo.gov.uk
Shops, hairdressers and pubs etc all need licences to play music - photographers issue licences to enable people to reproduce their images. This is why it is important that you discuss your commission and fully brief your photographer (or their agent), including details about where and how you would like to use the images.
The photographer will give you a licence that will reflect the agreed media - ie. on a website, in a brochure etc, the time period you wish to use the images over, and the territories in which the images will be shown. The use of these images will be exclusive to you. This means that the photographer will not be able to allow any third party to use the images you are using during the time they are licensed for your use and beyond, if this is agreed.
If I've paid for the film, processing or digital files why can't I keep, and use, all the work?
If you buy a copy of a book, computer software or a CD, making that purchase doesn’t give you the right to make copies of it, or broadcast it to the public. That right remains with the copyright owner. It is the same with image files.
There is a difference between the medium (eg transparency/ negative/digital file) and the content (the image) but one is of no use without the other. If you were to claim ownership to the transparency this doesn’t mean you own its content. The image in the file or transparency is the copyright of the photographer and without a licence to use, it would be illegal to reproduce it.
Raw files are never supplied by the photographer, the photographer was chosen for his skill and the post-production work is part of that skill. You will be supplied with images that are of the best quality and ready to use.
The images will be exclusive to you, so, by law, the photographer cannot licence them to another client whilst you have an exclusive licence to use them.
Why don't I get the right to use the images wherever I want?
When a client insists on unlimited use of the images they have commissioned, this can be an unnecessary and costly affair.
An unlimited licence includes every possible media including billboards, videos, TV, CDs, t-shirts etc., for worldwide use for the term of copyright (70 years after the photographer dies).
This type of unrestricted licence is unnecessary, it is highly unlikely that the vast extent of uses it includes would ever be taken up. If professional models are needed for the shoot, their charges also reflect the use to which the image is to be used. The price for this type of licence would be enormous and you would be paying for use you do not need.
A calculator has been produced to show the standard trade practice of calculating uses needed over and above the original licence:
What if I want to use it for things I don't have a licence for?
Should the commissioned work exceed your expectations and you wish to extend the use of the images then you can easily negotiate this with the photographer. Suggested guidelines as to how photographers can charge for extra usage has been negotiated with commissioners of photography and is available in a calculator format. All photographers will negotiate extra use, whether they use our calculator or have a price-list of their own. By looking at the calculator you can work out what the standard practice would be, by inserting the Base Usage Rate, also known as the BUR, (or day rate) that you have been charged.
Go to our Usage Calculator, which calculates a guideline using industry standards that Photographers and Agencies use to determe the cost of new licenses.