So You Want to Hire a Photographer

Let's face it, the ability to take your own photos has never been easier. Smartphones, point and shoots and affordable mirrorless cameras have made owning and operating a camera more accessible and user friendly than ever.

But, sometimes you might find yourself needing images with a little extra - maybe for your website, a linkedin profile, a magazine feature or an ad. Maybe it's for your wedding or another special, once in a lifetime event that you can't risk having messed up.

If you're in the market for a professional photographer, here are a few things to consider:

Whether they have a website or some other platform that allows you to see their portfolio.

This is important for obvious reasons. For one, you need to know that they are capable of doing the job for which you're hiring them. A pro photographer knows how important it is to show potential clients their work and is prepared accordingly. You wouldn't hire a contractor to build your house on just a recommendation, so you shouldn't hire a photographer on just word of mouth. Having said that;

Recommendations are a good way to determine past customer satisfaction. Did the photog show up on time? Was he or she competent, professional, easy to work with? Were images sufficiently high quality, delivered with minimal fuss and on time? 

Price will always be a factor, especially in our current economic climate. Many clients request 2 or more quotes from photographers before choosing who to hire.

While a competitive quote is a plus, you should consider who it is coming from before making your final decision.

Is the lower bid from a pro with a solid body of work to show, or is it someone with little experience who is hoping to build a portfolio on your job? Is the lower bid indicative of insufficient knowledge of what your scope of works entails, or just a professional deciding to 'take a hit' on this job to get back in the game?

Hiring an experienced pro is always a smarter move for you, as there will be less stress putting things right after the fact.

Understand what you're paying for.

Paying for photography doesn't automatically mean that you own the images and can use or reproduce them however you like. 

    Some photographers include usage rights and licensing in their fee, some include them as an add on and some don't charge extra for them anymore. Make sure to ask about this when having your first discussion.

    The copyright belongs to the photographer unless otherwise specified, in which case you'll be paying much more that a flat photography rate or licensing fees, as essentially, the photographer will be giving you complete ownership of the image(s). A photographer may however, reserve the right to show the images in his portfolio, regardless of whether copyright was transferred or not.

    As a client, you generally do not need to own the copyright, unless the project being photographed is highly confidential or specialised and you need to control every aspect of it. It is usually enough to have the rights to use the imagery as you wish, across any media and for unlimited or a specified length of time.

    Make sure to clarify all these aspects with your photographer to avoid any confusion and ill-feeling after the fact.

    Have a clear idea of what your project entails, and communicate accordingly.

    While a seasoned photographer will be comfortable having creative input, it helps if you're clear on what you'd like photographed, in order to maximise value for money.


    As with any professional relationship, clear, respectful communication is key, and many clients who take the time to hire a photographer based on more than just a cheap price, go on to have long, fruitful working relationships with them.