How do I go about hiring a professional photographer?

By Campbell Angus

Of course you take the best pictures in the family and everyone’s still asking for their copies from the last company event. But for those really important portraits and events, nothing replaces a competent professional photographer who can actually do the job.

Fourteen things to know about Professional Photographers.

  1. Start looking for a photographer as soon as you have the time and location nailed down, six months to a year in advance of the big event, one to two months ahead of a smaller one.
  2. Choose a photographer who specialises in the type of event you’re holding such as family portraits, corporate head shots; product releases and more. Ask for references and get personal recommendations whenever possible. View their website, (if they don’t have a professionally prepared website they’re probably weekenders!) and use the Yellow Pages online carefully, identify someone local and compare to others in the area.
  3. Look at samples of their work in their websites for something similar to what you want. Look for relaxed expressions and posing, and watch out for stiff, cookie-cutter staging. Great pictures look natural and easy, above all do the images appeal to you and your company outlook? If you choose some one who’s cheaper but doesn’t create the right “look” it will be you who is in trouble, not the photographer! Price is not an indication of quality, good quality is good quality.
  4. Trust your instincts. Do you get a good feel from the photographer? Does he or she listen to what you really want? Do they ask relevant questions and do they involve themselves in your project?
  5. Ask how long he or she has been in business and get a sense of their level of professionalism. Are they members of the Australian Institute of Professional Photographers (A.I.P.P.) or the Australian Commercial Media Photographers (A.C.M.P.) These two organisations are robust and demand a high level of technical, creative and personal skills ,(others simply don’t compare.) You want someone who dresses and acts appropriately to shoot your event.
  6. Specify if you want colour or black-and-white pictures.
  7. If the photographer is digital (and by now he should be), find out if you will view the pictures as paper proofs, contact sheets or on a CD. Some photographers set up a page on their Web site so you can proof images online usually within a day of the session.
  8. Ask how long will it take to see the proofs, how reprints and enlargements will be handled and what they cost. Inquire about bulk discounts on large orders and the possibility of ordering prints online.
  9. Review the contract and confirm all the details. All terms should be specified including the deposit and cancellation policies. Make sure the photographer has a 100% happy or 100% money back guarantee.
  10. Touch base in the weeks prior to your event to finalise all the details. Give the photographer a list of people you definitely want photographed. Help the photographer do his job, he doesn’t know anyone, or how important they are, and his vision will be through the viewfinder, review the images with him during the event to ensure that he has all the images you want him to create and if not all are there, get the people to him. If you help the photographer, that photographer will make you look really good.
  11. Product photography onsite: if you want your products photographed onsite, please prepare a clean uncluttered area at least 4 meters wide by 7 meters long for them to work in. This area is required to set up lights, stands and screens and then the camera tripod and laptop, otherwise the session will be difficult and the quality not optimum.
  12. Product photography shoot list: it will pay you well to organise your shoot list at the initial consultation, further images created over and above the list will incur higher fees and change your ‘budget’.
  13. Product photography budgeting: Your asking a professional image maker to set up and produce images of your products and services that will be used to make you money. Be aware that professional photographers fees are based on time and skill to produce marketable quality images. You only want to have just one session and get it right the first time. You get what you pay for.
  14. Confusion and bewilderment: this is all too often the case with my prospective clients who really do not know what they want until they see it and even then…! The more you talk and describe your wishes at the consultation the easier and more productive your session will be, usually a Professional photographer has enough experience to produce quality images quickly and efficiently, if you find that is not the case during your consultation – do not book! Time and time again I am required to re shoot a folio due to poor quality images created by other non professional photographers – and that costs dearly!


Check out the studio if you are having portraits taken. Look for a place to change clothes if you care to, as well as comfortable ambient temperature. You want to be very comfortable in the studio environment in order to take a relaxed photograph.

If you want the photographer to shoot in your office, prepare enough room for him BEFORE he arrives, he’s a photographer not a furniture removalist, and ensure everyone is ready, dressed and their teeth cleaned.


Try to get a read on whether the photographer is intrusive, bossy or arrogant. A corporate event or a P.R. event which is dictated by the photographer can be a miserable affair for everyone.

What to look for:

  • Experience in producing product images
  • Expertise in your event
  • Testimonials
  • Excellent photographs
  • Prompt, Efficient and Professional
  • Black & white and colour portraits
  • Clearly spelled out trading terms
  • Proven back up facilities

Article provided courtesy of SKovell Photography.

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