Hiring a photographer should not be a difficult task in today's market and yet so many struggle to find a professional, reliable, affordable photographer near them. There are a few ways one can approach this. I'm going to explore each of them including the pros and cons as well as a discussion around pricing and rates. However, if you'd like to skip the detail and get straight into using a tool to find photographers in your local area, click the button below.
Freelance Photographers are popping up all over the place. Between short courses, weekend warriors and the excitement of taking pictures for a living, the photography market is very well serviced. However, with such a populated marketplace comes a range of skillsets, value, quality and price. It's not easy for a client to source a photographer without some of the key pieces of information.
It's all about the brief.
Writing a brief for a project is the key part to finding the right photographer near you. The more information about the project you can provide the photographer, the more accurately you will be quoted and get what you're looking for. Sounds simple, right? Here are a few key areas to include when writing your project brief.
- Even if it's a short project, use descriptive language to engage photographers. One line that gives the basic information isn't going to motivate the top photographers. It also frustrates freelancers as they find it very difficult to offer a suitable quote or info about them. Whilst you're choosing the photographer, they are also choosing to apply for your project too and you want to pick from the best. 'Looking for a Photographer Near Me' full stop, just isn't enough. Provide detail about the project and the shots that you've like to capture. Roughly how many images would you like the photographer to provide? What would you like shot? Would you like the images to be retouched?
- Provide a shot list or at least an idea of the things you'd like to capture.
- Use visual examples. Creative minds love creative aids. Include images of the type of shot you're looking for or, if you're a creative soul yourself, provide a moodboard. Unless you have a very specific vision for the project, allow for some creative license. You are hiring a specialist after all.
- State where the images are going to be used, and in what format you'd like the photographer to provide the images. Prices range depending on usage so don't be surprised if a photographer asks this question and offers a range of quotes based on image usage.
- Include EVERYTHING you require in brief. Hidden extras are never good. If you'd like the images retouched in post-production, say so - this is time the photographer will need to spend on them and will increase the rate. Would you like the photographer to send you low-res images for your website or cropped images for your Instagram account? When you require the images by? This all takes time, however, a photographer will have the means to complete these types of requests a lot quicker than Joe average.
- When, where, what, why and with whom? Get the non-negotiable points out of the way at the brief-stage. If your project takes place on a date the photographer is unavailable, there's no point talking further. Same goes for where. The why is more interesting. If a photographer doesn't like the project, they may turn down the work. This happens a lot more regularly than you may think. Photographers often don't want to be associated with certain brands as they don't align with their values. Sometimes it's to do with a moral objection.
Understanding the Terms and Definitions
A freelance photographer works for a variety of clients in creating photos and content for them. Freelance photographers must have their own equipment and software in order to be prepared for each job at hand and have excellent negotiation and people skills as they will be directly dealing with many clients and teams. Once you hire a photographer, make sure that you discuss when the shoot is taking place, how long you think you'll require the photographer and when you need the images by. This last point is essential as a lesser-known fact about photography projects is that the editing process (even if they are not retouching the images) takes a lot of time.
An experienced photographer will be much more selective with their shots whereas a less confident photographer will shoot hundreds of shots in the hope that one of them works. An easy way to spot a confident photographer from a nervous one is the number of times you hear the click of the exposure button. Even experienced photographers some times have to take 100s of shots if the project requires it and that means sitting down (ideally on the computer) to go through them all with a fine tooth comb.
Let's look at an example. Let's say you're a fashion e-com startup brand. You've got 80 pieces that you need to shoot on a model and each piece require 5 shots that will go on your site. The photographer will most likely take between 20 and 40 images per piece to make sure that they've got what you require. When working at pace, photographers can sometimes miss a blurred shot or the model's position may look odd. When they check in their tiny camera screen all looks well but on the computer, there may be trouble. To safeguard against this, photographers tend to shoot a couple of extras just in case.
At the end of the day, 80 x 40 is 3200 images. If you have a project that requires hundreds or thousands of images, please be mindful when setting your deadline. Freelance photographers will have multiple clients on the go at any one time so image the backlog. When I was a photographer, I would always price the job up to include this editing time and manage the client's expectations around the time it takes to edit. I would also give them the option to take all the images and deal with that themselves at a cheaper rate.
Pre and post-production is a vital part of working as a freelance photographer and can add a lot more hours or days to a job. We spoke a little about post-production (retouching, Photoshop etc...), however, pre-production is one that many clients don't consider. Pre-production might be needed if the photographer has to scout out a location or if there are multiple sites that the client would like to shoot at. From editorial fashion to wedding photography, there are times when it pays to do a reccie before the day of the shoot.
Of course, for a small project, this may be excessive, however, bear it in mind if you are shooting in a random place as the photographer will have to work out the lighting, the concepts and the environment on the fly and this can be time consuming. I remember doing a shoot in an industrial estate in South London. The client assured me that there was plenty of light and I didn't need to bring anything extra with me. When I got there, the light he was referring to was the harsh strip lighting running through the corrugated iron structures. They were horrible and made the subject look flat with a blueish hue. What are the options? I did as much as I could using the settings on my camera and the rest had to be done in post-production. The client was paying by the hour and ended up spending 3 times more than it would have taken if we did a a bit of pre-shoot scouting.
Types of Photography Projects & Tips When Hiring
Photographers who work in advertising creating content that clients can use to advertise their services. Also known as a corporate shoots, the content created by the photographer is a marketing tool and a representation of the business. The average salary for an Advertising photographer in this field is £32,482. Senior photographers in advertising will have a lot of experience turning briefs into content and generally don't require a huge amount of hand-holding. Their portfolio will tell you all you need to know. Who they've worked with and their style should shine through.
Corporate photography aims to showcase the inner workings of a company in a positive way and capture the brand images of a business. Photographers who work with corporate structures generally have excellent communication skills and a tactful approach when working with various departments in a large business.
Shooting fashion or product for a digital platform requires a mix of core skills. Being able to shoot efficiently in a studio, editing the images to clean them up and format them for web and shooting editorial or lifestyle with people. Depending on the size of the e-com brand, smaller companies will often hire an e-com photographer to shoot everything on the site.
Event photographers must be able to perfectly capture high quality and usable content in the moment. Personality plays a big part in event photography if you're looking for photos of your guests. When hiring a photographer for an event, take this into account. The average salary for an event photographer is £70 an hour.
Wedding photographers aim to capture a couples’ special day by working closely with them to create an important piece of memorabilia. It is vital that the photographer works with the couple to produce a selection of shots in line with their wants and vision. A pre-wedding consultation is recommended, ideally at the wedding venue so the photographer can plan suitable shots, lighting and moments in advance. Most people don’t mind splashing out on their wedding day, so photographers can cost from £500 to £1000 for a middle weight photographer all the way up to an average of £2123 to £2830 for a senior wedding photographer with the trimmings.
Travel photographers work for tourist boards, travel companies, magazines, hotels, charities or websites. Their job is to promote a destination; therefore, a storytelling ability is integral. Travel photos help to sell particular locations to tourists and travellers so local knowledge is important. Now, this begs the question, do you hire a photographer whose work you really like but may not know the location well and fly them in or look for a local photographer near the location you're shooting? The cost to fly and house a travel photographer can make it more expensive but you'll have more control, less of a language barrier in some cases and have access to the photographer when back in your homeland.
Being paid hourly allows freelance photographers to be paid appropriately for all of the time they have put into a project. The average hourly rate across the board for a freelance photography is £21, however, this takes into account the multitude of smaller projects and junior photographers working today. A reliable, experienced photographer will cost anywhere from £75 - £100 per hour. When working on jobs that require capturing a particular event in real time, charging by the hour may be the best option. Don't forget to factor in any additional hours such as location scouting and editing. A photography job is rarely just the hours they are shooting.
By establishing a day rate, freelance photographers can assure that they are paid correctly for each day that the project lasts. Clients who agree to a day rate can then stick within budget, however, keep in mind that the photographer is not at your beck and call. If there is a problem with a shot or you'd like additional post-production work done, it may cost more.
A contract with any hire is vital. The clause outlining the requirements of the photographer and a line about the subjective nature of creative work is key.
The National Union of Journalists (NUJ) recommends that freelance photographers receive £500 for a day’s shoot and an additional £500 for a day’s editing, as most photography jobs require at least one additional day editing, sometimes more.
By charging a rate for the whole project, freelance photographers ensure that any pre and post-production work is included in the final fee. A client can also feel in control of spend. A project fee will include all of the work involved in producing the content, including location scouting, researching and editing, as well as the actual shoot day. The risk when pricing for a project is if it goes over time or the client requests a reshoot or re-edit. Clearly define your terms in the contract to protect yourself from these eventualities.
Managing Freelance Photographers
Photographers near me are used to the way I work. We've built up a relationship and have an understanding when I provide a brief. However, it wasn't always so smooth and it's a fresh start when hiring a photographer from outside my inner circle. The differences in managing freelance photographers compared with full time staff are like comparing apples with oranges. The freelance photographers I've worked with wouldn't put up with an authoritative 'boss'. They got into freelancing to be their own boss and set their own rules. This doesn't mean they are difficult to manage, quite the opposite, most are mature and experienced enough to manage themselves.
There are subtle management techniques to consider. For instance, the freelance photographer will almost always know more about their craft than you so let them get on with it. As some work might take place remotely eg: the editing process, a line of communication is key. Consider using some casual like Slack or WhatsApp so you can go back and forth. This allows the photographer to show progress to the client visually and remove the formalities of email.
In my experience, freelancers like deadlines and work best when there is something to work towards. So long as the deadline is realistic and the client doesn't change the brief halfway through, deadlines and milestones are a great way to see progress.
Freelance Photographers have a lot of hidden overheads. Take these into account when setting your rate or engaging a freelance photographer. Of course, it's not the clients responsibility to cover the costs of a freelancer, however, it's useful to know what photographers are having to pay out to see if there are areas you can leverage in a negotiation.
Photographers requires more essential equipment than most other job roles in the creative industries. It is vital that freelance photographers have the basic tools to create, edit and produce shots and content.
When it comes to editing software, there are plenty of options for freelance photographers. Popular choices include Adobe Creative Suite, in particular Photoshop.
Many freelance photographers will find themselves travelling around the country or even abroad for work. It is important that this cost is either paid for by the client or considered when setting a rate for a project. Most freelance photographers will add travel into their price, however, those travelling further-a-field may request additional travel costs are covered.
Scouting locations for a photo shoot is not always the responsibility of the photographer but it is often apart of pre-production process as it has to be undertaken before the shoot. If the photographer scouts for locations they must factor this into their rate for the project, making sure to include the costs to travel to the locations and the time taken.
Depending on how big the project is, most clients will hire a separate, professional storyboard artist. However, if the freelance photographer is asked to create a storyboard for a project, this is an additional rate that must be factored into the final fee. Storyboard artists are typically paid between £10 to £18 an hour. Remember what you're asking a photographer to do on a project. Large productions may hire 2 or 3 experts to do the work many clients expect a photographer to cover.
How to Ensure a Fair Rate for a Freelance Photographer
Talk About Money
Freelancers, in general, are not great when it comes to talking about money. Certainly the less experienced freelancers in the industry tend not to have a day rate. It's important that clients and photographers don't shy away from discussing money from the very start of each project they undertake. Equally important is that the client does not take advantage of the photographer's lack of knowledge in this area. Longterm, it won't work out. Working for free is not an option and therefore, all payment expectations should be made clear from the start so there is no confusion or underpayment later on.
It is important for clients to gauge a freelance photographer's level of experience and expertise when it comes to setting a fee. As there are so many elements to photography production, the more you know, the higher fee. For example, the more software and equipment a photographer owns and is familiar with, the more likely they can justify asking for a higher fee. As with all creatives, the bigger and more diverse a portfolio, the more money one will earn. Experience is not only about the quality of the end product, it’s about communication with the client and a level of professionalism that a client expects.
Equipment and Software
If a freelance photographer is providing all of the equipment and software for a shoot, they can justifiably charge a higher fee as they are providing more than just their shooting skills but essentially putting the whole shoot together as well as providing all of the editing. in addition, photographers can often bring multiple services to a project. Discover what else they are able to provide when discussing the project. Perhaps you would like videos taken on the day or for the images to be used in a design? Don't ask, don't get.
Hourly vs Flat Rate
Charging by the hour vs charging a flat rate is one of the hardest decisions to make as a freelance photographer. Both methods of setting fees have their advantages and disadvantages and most freelancers will switch between the two depending on the type of project and how long it is expected to last. Usually, freelancers will make more money if they charge by the hour, but flat rates that are set before the project has begun to make life easy for both the client and the freelancer. Some freelancers price a project based on the budget. Clients tend not to divulge the budget to avoid this, however, it's important to know the value of a project before negotiating.
Hiring Freelance Photographers near me comes with a range of challenges, however, most of these can be overcome with a detailed brief, open communication and an understanding of the project's value. Local photographers are also local businesses and there's more value to be had by hiring a photographer near me. Not only am I giving back to my local community but I'm also introducing a local to my business. When a photographer shot
Working as a freelance photographer requires one to incorporate multiple job roles into one. It is time-consuming and expensive, so it is vital that photographers are aware of how to set fair fees for their work and be correctly compensated. In an industry constantly changing, freelancers must always be aware of how these changes affect their fees and work at being paid legitimately.
Images: Rami Haj