10 things to ask yourself before hiring a professional photographer

These 10 things could be interesting before  asking a photographer to quote your next assignment.

LEGO Photographers

LEGO Photographers (Photo credit: James M. Turley)

1 Why do I  need a photographer?

Did you really think about why hiring a photographer. What is the purpose of the photography done? Is it  just to cover the event or do you need pictures that really stand out, and can be used for sending to the media and have editorial qualities for future purposes?

2 Why choose a professional photographer?

Everyone can take pictures nowadays. Are we going to let these pictures be made by a friend, a coleague,  just another amateur, or does your company really acknowledge the extra value of a professional photographer ?

3 What do you want? exactly.

Before demanding a quote and just hiring a photographer, think about what exactly it is you want. Do you need a few hundred allright images, or do you want the 25 best images that could be made of your event/ business possible?

Do you want to publish them, how many, how long, how large, on the net, in print, on billboards?

The more precise you can brief the photographer, the better the results will be.

4 Do you want all copyrights?

Often clients think they will own all copyrights on all images. Sorry, that is not how it works.

The photographer owns the copyright of every picture he makes. In the quote he can offer you a license for a certain amount of pictures, for a fixed period and a fixed region and even size. When you have about 60 pictures of your event, you’ll probably put about 12 of them on your site, and you’ll use only 2 or 3 in print in your magazine or annual. And yes, only after a few years you will feel these pictures are outdated, so a license for only a few years should be sufficient.

5 How long does the photographer have to be on the location? 

Maybe you want the photographer just to photograph a handshake or the signing of a paper? This photography will only take a few seconds! But to get on the location on time, to prepare, to shoot, to develop and to deliver the photography all takes time. All this with the experience of the photographer, the time spent making the quote and sending the invoice, should all be calculated into that few seconds of photography.

Most professional photographers have a minimum rate for half a day, the smallest assignment possible.

6 How to choose your photographer?

Now you know you want to hire a professional. Maybe you already have a photographer in mind, because you worked with him before, or someone proposed him to you.

When you yourself are responsible for choosing the photographer, choose one yourself. Look around yourself, check these portfolios and maybe invite some photographers to get to know them and their work better. Keep in mind the photography you need for your assignment, and don’t be impressed by photography you don’t need.

Does his photography have a nice feeling about it. Are the subjects, models, at ease? Are the contrasts and colors what you like. How does this photographer cope with difficult lighting conditions? Can he edit and select his work ; don’t you see trash between great photography, in the same portfolio. Does he work in RAW ?

7 What’s the budget ?

Ask yourself what budget you have. Do you see this photography as an expensive way of solving a problem you can’t solve another way ? (you wanted to take the pics yourself) Or do you see hiring a great professional photographer as an worthwhile investment, an opportunity to hire a pro and to obtain professional footage that can be used to sell the company/product/service photographed ?

8 Do you need a quote ?


When you have done your homework and decided to use a particular photographer because of his quality, you don’t need to send out several emails to other photographers. Just state your budget and ask him if he can do it for that budget. If not, demand a quote. When you need 3 quotes (for your boss) state the budget to your photographers and tell them  he’s in with the last 3 photographers in the pitch.

9 Do you want the cheapest professional photographer?

No, if you’ve done your homework you just want the best available photographer for the job, within a certain budget of course. If you’re really on a tight budget, and you still have about 3 photographers left that are equally good, than you can look for the cheapest by asking a quote.

But remember that higher prices in photography normally mean you will have better quality, service and results. Photography is an investment. With the photographs that you will be making, you will try to find new clients, give a better image to your company, or make speakers or visitors happy, just because you made them a great souvenir.

Again, state your budget and ask the three photographers if that is ok, or demand quotes and judge them not only on price, but also on the way of working, the professionalism of  the quote, the clarity of the quote, the use of the photos, and the delivery time of the end product.

10 Is your preferred photographer more expensive than the cheapest quote you got?

Just tell him so, and ask him why. Maybe he can do you another offer. Maybe he licensed the images for 5 years, while it could be 3 years and cheaper. Maybe he delivers photography in 3 days, while it could be 10 days too. Often there are other ways to economize on the budget, than just hiring the cheapest photographer. Rather hire the best photographer, but maybe not let him shoot the reception, but only the official part of the event…

French spirit photographer Édouard Isidore Bug...

French spirit photographer Édouard Isidore Buguet (1840-1901) demonstrates telekinesis in this hoaxed 1875 photograph titled Fluidic Effect. Buguet was arrested the same year for faking his ghost photographs and he served a year in prison. http://www.azcentral.com/ent/arts/articles/1003occult.html The publishing year and year of the photographer’s death are over 100 years, making this image suitable for public domain use in every country. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)