Q & A
At Bullock & Kirstein Photography, we are firm believers in making informed decisions. This is why we have compiled this list of questions and answers we often hear. Sometimes our clients are afraid to ask some of these questions for fear of offending us or for fear of asking the dreaded “stupid question!” At B&K-there are no stupid questions. We encourage you to ask questions, talk about yourself, your business, your product or your service. The more you ask, the more you know. The more you tell us, the better able we are to help you! If you have questions about professional commercial photography and how it can help you, read on:
Why should I hire a Professional Photographer?
The answer is simple: VALUE
Whenever we make a purchase, we consider the “value” we receive. It’s no different when hiring a professional photographer. Unfortunately, not many people readily understand the value of hiring a professional photographer. Because you're a professional in your field as well, you probably want to get the best images possible-which are almost never the cheapest images! As we all know, the advent of digital photography has led to countless numbers of consumers thinking they're photographers; more people than ever before are trying to do-it-yourself every day. And it's true--the DELETE button on their digital cameras allows them to throw out out-of-focus, poorly composed, and badly exposed images instantly.
The result is more people taking bad pictures than ever before!
When you hire a pro, you're not just hiring a person with a more expensive camera than your Uncle Bob. You're hiring someone who knows how to make you (or your subject) look their best, using an artistic eye, an ability to put the subject at ease, and the technical skill to give you a stunning image that everyone will notice. You're hiring someone who can take your vision of yourself (your product, your event, your service), and mold it into something eye-catching, truthful, and new.
If those things don't matter to you, phone Uncle Bob immediately.
Below we provide some more insight into the value a professional photographer brings:
Interest in You
A professional photographer will spend time getting to know their subject(s). Their preferences, their needs and wants. A professional brings the knowledge, experience and professional ability to capture and craft images in the manner and style you prefer. Whether your needs are traditional or creative, “outside the box thinking”, a professional photographer works with your desires in mind. A professional photographer helps you establish his or her “assignment” so that you can focus on business!
A professional photographer brings an artistic eye to the equation. One focused not only on the subject but also the background, the lighting, the composition, the depth of field and a host of other elements that not every one can “see” when crafting an image. Artistic vision and the ability to “see” the image helps a photographer craft memorable images that accurately convey an image, a feeling or even a lifestyle vs. snapshots.
High End Equipment
A professional photographer uses the latest digital SLR equipment and most importantly, a professional knows how to use it this equipment. Today’s professional equipment has multiple and complex functions that allow a photographer to manipulate focal length, shutter speed, aperture, and depth of field to compliment almost any subject. It also allows the capture of crisp and sharp photographs in low light, with little or no image degradation.
Understanding of Lighting
A professional photographer understands and knows how to capture natural looking images in any kind of light. Whether in the studio, outdoors or in low light situations, a professional photographer knows how to add the right amount of direct or supplemental lighting to fill the scene, compliment the subject and maintain a natural looking image. A professional photographer won’t fall prey to “red eye”, blurred or under or over exposed images.
Post Processing Software
A professional photographer will utilize high end post processing software that allows him or her to effectively correct color, adjust exposure, manipulate hue, saturation, lens distortion and edit images for a professional look. If it is high resolution files you require for your project, a professional photographer will supply you with the highest quality and largest size file with professional enhancements to give you the professional finished product you require.
A professional photographer focuses on capturing high quality images and the objective thereafter is to preserve these images with high quality printing. Professional photographers will bypass the low cost volume “snapshot” printing providers and work with a custom professional lab that will help assure the delivery of only the highest quality final product, whether it be prints, posters, banners or brochures.
What am I paying a professional for?
When you pay a professional photographer to shoot for you, you are generally paying for the following things:
• a creation fee, which involves their creativity and expertise;
• an agreed upon number of hours or days to do your shoot and deliver a final product;
• expenses incurred in creating those images (time to consult with you, post-production time, etc.);
• a print or digital file(s) of one or more select images;
• you may or may not pay a usage fee on individual photos you wish to reproduce and use for professional purposes. This fee is variable and will depend on the use. Personal, editorial, and educational usages for example, are generally less expensive than commercial and advertising.
Who owns the negatives and the rights to the images?
Unlike our friends in the good old United States of America, Canadian Photographers are not automatically entitled to copyright of the images they create. Section 13(2) of the Canadian Copyright Act states: "The copyright owner is the one who commissions and pays for the photograph or portrait. In other words, provided a client or buyer commissions the production of a photograph and pays for such a work, the client/buyer automatically holds the copyright on the photograph- not the photographer or person who created the image - unless the buyer and photographer/creator have an agreement to the contrary." This is why you will almost always be asked to sign an agreement granting the photographer copyright of their work. In paying them to shoot, you are purchasing their professional services. You will then purchase "usage rights," which then entitles you to USE one or more photos for a specific purpose. You are probably purchasing a COPY of the image as well-generally in print or digital file form. Incidentally, this is the same copyright law that protects all artists and people who create--whether they are composers, authors, photographers...you get the drift.
Why is it that the same image can cost me $50 or $500 to use?
You might be buying an image just for personal use-to put in your wallet or place on your desk at work. But when you buy an image for professional purposes-whether it is for newsletter or newspaper stories about you, or as the cover of your next CD or book-the price is significantly higher. In addition, editorial and educational usages are much less expensive than commercial and advertising. For example, an image you want to use once for an in-house newsletter or your own website will cost far less than one running with ads for a commercial product you endorse, and which are published in nationally distributed magazines or printed on billboards. Also, covers-be it book, magazine, or CD- are always priced higher than interiors of that same product.
What's important is that when you buy a photo with usage rights, you do not own the copyright-meaning, you do not have the right to use it for anything at all and for as long as you like. Hence, you need to ascertain exactly what rights you have bought, and for how long. It's common, by the way, for someone to buy the rights to a picture for one use, then contact the photographer sometime down the road and purchase another type of usage for the same photo.
What's included in a photo package deal?
Photo packages that offer a single price for the creation, hours, expenses and final images you need are often a far better deal financially than a la carte billing. Find out the price for the package, and make sure you know exactly what's included--how many hours you get, how many poses, how many final shots (and in what format) and what you're allowed to use the photos for professionally.
Isn't digital photography cheaper?
Film is a wonderful thing, and we will always love classic black and white in particular. Still, it's true that digital shooting has numerous advantages over film. Among those advantages is the ability for the photographer and client to catch mistakes and make changes early in the shoot, as well as faster turnaround time, easier image modification and retouching, and the ability to create color and black and white images from the same shot.
But the idea that digital photography on the professional level is cheaper than analogue (conventional film and paper) is a total myth. According to all of the stats published in the past two years, doing a professional shoot digitally costs as much as one-third more than traditional methods. Why, you ask?
FOR 3 REASONS:
(1) CONSTANTLY CHANGING HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE:
In the old days (from five to one hundred and fifty years ago) photographers expected their cameras, darkroom equipment, and all they needed to shoot and create an original image for you to last between five and twenty-five years, if not more. Today, digital equipment-cameras, computers, hardware, and software-is often obsolete in a few months, and rarely makes it to two or three years.
(2) THE PHOTOGRAPHER'S TIME:
When a photographer shoots digitally, the post-production work required after the shoot-including downloading, naming files, color corrections, various batch actions, backing up on external hard drives, burning CDs or DVDs, etc. etc.--is infinitely more time consuming for the photographer, and sometimes takes longer than the shoot itself. In the old days, this was often a simple lab drop and pickup that was billed to the client. Today, it is the photographer and/or their staff who is working at the computer perfecting and presenting your images, which is reflected in your bill.
(3) FASTER TURNAROUND EXPECTATIONS:
Because clients know how quickly digital turnarounds can happen, they often expect the photographer to process and deliver much faster than with film. The marketplace has upped the ante on deadlines as well. So these added pressures also push up the costs.
We hope that this information has been helpful in your quest for information about the elusive world of professional commercial photography! We know it can be confusing and even overwhelming at times, we hope that this informative section of our website has helped clarify the subject a little! If there is a question left unanswered, please don't hesitate to call us, we'd be happy to answer your questions!