Hiring a Photographer

by Nick Young

These days, with the advent of digital cameras, it seems that everyone claims to be a photographer. However, if you are in need of photography to help sell your product or service, it's best to seek out a pro. With the help of a professional, you can elevate your product and really make it stand out in an often-overcrowded marketplace.

How it Works

Before hiring a professional photographer, it's important to understand the difference between consumer photography and commercial photography for publication. Consumer photography such as wedding and portraiture provide a final product to the retail customer in the form of a wedding album or framed portrait. However, photography for publication provides a service as opposed to a product. This means that the final user, the client, who uses the image(s) in his or her brochure, advertisement or catalog, etc, are paying for permission the reproduce the image(s) in their publication. The photographer retains the copyright of the image and is, essentially, licensing the image for a particular use and period of time.

There are, of course, exceptions to this rule, such as a Work-for-hire contract. Most photographers will avoid Work-for-hire contracts as it means giving up all rights to the images they create. As a client, if you feel it's important to own the copyright to the images the photographer creates for you, then another option is the "buyout." This will normally cost upwards of double the photographers normal creative fee.

What do you really want?

So, how do you find the photographer who's right for you? Well, the most important thing is to know what you want. That may sound like an odd thing to say but often people hire photographers without fully understanding what style and image they wish to convey. For instance, imagine your company provides customer service and tech support to users of your product, and you want to show portraits of these representatives in your brochure and on your website. A bright, light environmental portrait, which portrays them as friendly and approachable, will be far more effective than a formal portrait against a gray backdrop. Do your research before calling in portfolios and nail down the style you want by seeing what's out there in magazines, annual reports', on the web, and so on.

"When deciding on a style and direction for a particular project, I think about my target audience. My approach will be different for teenagers than their parents!"

Graphic artist

Finding the right person for the job

A lot of photographers specialize in a particular area of photography so don't try to save money by asking your local wedding photographer to shoot high-end food photography! Also there are many different styles even in one particular specialization. For example, food photography for advertising can be slick, with everything in sharp detail, showing the product in fine detail or with selective, or short, focus that portrays more of a mood and feeling.

"The photographers I shoot with must be able to work with direction well, however, I also want someone whose creativity will enhance the project. A collaborative effort makes all of the work experience and end product that much better."

Art director.

"When I hire a photographer for a job I look for more than just talent. I need to know they are reliable. I don't want to be standing with the client on shoot day, wondering where the photographer is!"

Graphic designer.

Narrowing it down

The Internet has made browsing portfolios much easier as any photographer worth his salt has a website.


An Internet search for local photographers in your area by the specialization you require.

Ask colleagues or business associates for recommendations.

The American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) is a great source for local talent and has chapters in all States and most major cities.

There may also be other visual arts organizations in your city that may be of help.

If your budget is really tight, you could seek out a photo assistant who is trying to build a portfolio. The ASMP can probably help with this too.

Also, if their price is so low it seems too good to be true... it probably is!


Nick Young Photography