There are lots of things to think about when hiring a freelance photographer. I should know being one. Let me help you as a client hire the right freelance photographer for you.
The right freelance photographer for you will be local, professionally qualified and produce photos that you like the look of. You will have checked out their website and social media channels, and have read independent client reviews and spoken to the photographer and have a good rapport with him or her.
You should get on with the photographer personally, and hopefully enjoy working with them.
The right photographer will get you the photos you need – the wrong photographer might not (or the process might be painful) so choose wisely.
Read on for my advice after years of working as a professional freelance photographer.
Who I am to tell you this stuff?
This is not a “hire me” post. But I do need to tell you that I am a professionally qualified photographer, and a freelance photographer at that. What I am telling you in this post is what I have learned over many years working as a freelance photographer for clients.
More about me later on in this post but let’s get straight into the stuff I want to tell you.
What is a freelance photographer?
A freelance photographer is a photographer who works on individual commissions. Anyone with a camera can in theory call them self a freelance photographer though, so make sure you engage a legitimate professional photographer.
A freelance photographer works for him/ herself.
Should I use a local photographer?
It depends on so many things, but from my personal experience from the other side of the fence definitely yes.
If you use a local freelance photographer you will be far more likely to meet with him/ her as part of the appointment process.
A local photographer should be cheaper for you as they are closer and have less travelling time and costs. Everything is just easier when you work with someone local to you.
And I always find that you get a better service from people local to you – if you need them to come back to do more work this is much easier to do if they are close to you.
OK – so what are the problems with using a photographer who is not local?
I will use myself as an example.
I once quoted for a photography job in North Wales. I got the job. The problems started when trying to plan the job.
I needed a day either side for travelling, as well as the day of the shoot.
I made all the arrangements and the shoot date changed.
This was a problem to me
So I had to rearrange everything. And I also had to book a reserve date. Another 3 days.
In the end that meant 6 working days committed to one job which prevented me working on other things.
Now this is not the clients fault. It is entirely my fault for accepting a job so far away.
I did the only thing that I could do, which I should have done in the first place.
I turned the job down and found a local photographer who I talked to and recommended to my client.
I should have done that in the first place.
There are a few things that have to be factored into the planning of a photography shoot.
1 – Timing
Shoots often change from one planned time to another. Any arrangements made have to be undone and re-made. Not the clients fault, just the reality of life.
In my case this is usually completion date for construction works.
2 – Weather
In the UK we all know the problems our rubbish weather causes. And the unpredictability seems to be getting worse.
3 – Contingency days
For a shoot a long way away these are much harder to arrange due to other conflicting work commitments. Hotels, travel etc – it all eats into time and prevents me from getting other bookings.
This is why I recommend a local photographer, wherever you might be.
Go with a local photographer though and they will be able to accommodate these things more easily than if they are at the other end of the country.
So where do I work these days?
I work locally these days in Dorset, Hampshire, London and surrounding counties. I do not price work further afield for the reasons above.
See I told you this was not a sales pitch for me by excluding myself from potential work on most of the UK!
OK – I hope that I have convinced you that a local photographer is a good starting point.
What kind of photographer should I choose?
There is an easy way to explain this. If you get in touch with me and offer me lots of money to photograph your wedding I will politely decline your generous offer.
I have photographed weddings, but this is not for me.
I am not very good at this, and it would be wrong for me to take money off you to photograph your wedding. I would advise you to approach an actual wedding photographer.
Horses for courses
However, if you wanted someone to photograph your building then I am the man for you.
So yes in my professional opinion you should find a photographer who is a specialist in what you need the photos taking of.
So choose a photographer who specialises in the type of photos that you want.
How do I know that a photographer I am considering is for me?
Check out the photographers website. If you like their photos then they might be for you. If you do not like their photos then they are not for you.
I have my own style, which you can see in my images. That is how I work, and if you do not like my style then I am probably not be the photographer for you. And this is fine.
Photographers websites should tell you everything you need to know.
In 2020 you should be able to find out everything you need to know about a photographer quickly and without having to search for the info.
Using my website as an example, my about page tells you all that you need to know about me. And in writing this and looking at my about page I have some work to do. I am going to expand my about page this page, so all the info is there for you, with links to other relevant stuff.
Other ways of finding out about photographers
Yes I have a You Tube channel where you can find out more about who I am and what I actually sound like! I talk about the weekly blog post on my website just like this one.
Other social media.
Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter.
I tend to share blog posts to other social media channels and that is all.
Email the photographer in question and start up a dialogue.
A great thing to to is read client references, either on Google (which the photographer cannot change), or on their own website.
Don’t be afraid of asking for a client contact that you can speak to – this is a perfectly reasonable request which any reputable photographer will be happy to help you with.
And my favourite way.
Speak to them. There is one other way of finding out if a photographer is for you which is in my opinion the best way – call them and have a chat.
Do I need to use a professionally qualified photographer? And how do I know if a photographer is any good or not?
A professionally qualified photographer with a recognised UK body will have reached a level of professionalism.
For me that is the starting point. And I am not just saying that as I have a professional photography qualification. I am also a Chartered Builder and believe it or not also professionally qualified in Health and Safety.
I believe in professional qualifications as a demonstration of professional capability and competence.
Would you employ an unqualified architect to design a house for you? Would you take medical advice from someone who is not a Doctor?
I hope not!
Should I pay more for a higher qualified photographer?
Erm yes. If you engage an architect, a senior architect will cost more than a trainee.
Photography is exactly the same, it is a profession after all.
But it does depend on the standard of photography work you want – if you want high quality freelance photography work then I am afraid you are going to have to pay a bit more for it.
And if you just want photos slightly better than you can take then go for someone starting out who will be cheaper.
How do I know which professional bodies in the UK are ok?
Check out these reputable professional photography organisations in the UK – these are the one that I know about and know to be reputable.
There are other professional bodies I am sure, but I can only recommend ones that I have knowledge of.
BIPP – British Institute of Professional Photography
RPS – The Royal Photographic Society
MPA – The Master Photographers Association
Check out the qualifications of a photographer
I am an Associate in the BIPP (ABIPP). When I first qualified as a photographer the entry qualification I achieved was a Licentiate (LBIPP). I have progressed to Associate, the next level up.
What is the difference?
ABIPP is defined (by the BIPP) as
“A high standard of craftsmanship, including the use of light, composition, image framing and cropping. Demonstration of good ability in preparing files for print. Increased knowledge for output including the correct choice of printing media.”
LBIPP is defined (by the BIPP) as
“Showing a consistent professional level of skill and competence in all aspects of photography; including the use of light, composition and image cropping. A client will be confident in knowing they have booked a professional photographer who shows good all-round skills.”
OK – so I am recommending a local, professionally qualified photographer who is highly skilled in taking photos of the kind of stuff that you want photographing.
Why should I pay for a photographer? Can I not take the photos myself?
If you are happy with the photos that you can get yourself then that is just fine. If you want better quality photos then then yes you should use a professional photographer.
How much will this cost?
It depends. A local photographer should charge you less as they have less costs in getting to you and the job you need them to do.
Photographers normally charge by the hour, half day, day of a fixed fee for a shoot. Some charge by the photo, but I don’t get that!
I normally get commissioned on a half day or full day fixed fee – get in touch with me and I will tell you what my starting rates are.
Factors in pricing
There are lots of variables that get built into a freelance photographers quote, including
- The size of the job
- How many images are needed?
- The location
- Specific timing issues
- Specific image editing
- The final use of the images
- Copyright matters
- Risks to the photographer
How long does the process take?
The process from start to finish can take a while. A couple of days to a week from initial contact to agreeing a price and scope for the work.
The next delay is timing, which in my case is very often driven by a construction contract, programme and client fit-out.
Most shoots I do take half a day, bigger shoots a day. Some commissions involve multiple shoots on multiple locations.
It really does depend.
Who decides the brief?
This is normally initiated by the client and developed in discussion with the photographer. I always confirm the brief to my clients at the time I submit my quotation, so we are both clear on what is being commissioned, what is included and also what is not included.
And after the shoot how long does it take to get images?
I have issued images to a client the next day before 8am – this was a very specific client deadline. You should expect to pay more for this.
On most normal shoots I issue a fully edited set of images within one week, often sooner than that.
Who picks the images to edit?
I do normally. I have agreed the brief, and I have taken the photos. I see it as my job to satisfy the brief, and 99 times out of 100 I do just that.
Every now and then a client asks for a few more images, but this does not happen often.
Do I need to know anything about the technical side of photography?
No, and I will not bore you with it either. You should not need to know nor be bothered which any of this stuff, unless you are genuinely interested that is. Which none of my clients have been to date.
Some questions that will help you choose a photographer
Before you start the process of engaging a freelance photographer I suggest you get the following things clear in your mind. If you engage a good photographer these things should be teased out during the negotiations about the what, the how, the when and the how much.
- What do you want photos of?
- How many photos do you need?
- What quality is required?
- What is the intended use of these photos?
- Do the photos need to be taken at a specific time?
- Are props/ staging required?
- Are people in the photos? What about consents?
- Is there any preparation required by the client?
- What is your budget?
And one last question
Will you want more photos in the future?
I need to mention this. If you want photos doing in the future and you want them to sit with other photos from other shoots at other times then make sure that the photographer you use can do this.
I have carried out shoots for architects that are taken and processed in exactly the same way, so they look like a coherent set of images.
That’s all folks! Well nearly.
I hope that you have found this helpful and you are now better placed to start the process of engaging a freelance photographer.
A little bit about me
I would like to tell you a bit about me, well I have to sell myself whenever I can now don’t I?
I specialise in photographing the built environment and nice places. I do photograph other things, but I do not photograph weddings, christenings, people, pets – anything that is alive or moves basically. Or that can answer me back!
I stick to my specialism, and you can find out all about me on my about page, which is about to be updated as I said earlier.
One last thing
This post used to be a web page, but as part of the re-structuring of my website has been transformed into this blog post. Please keep coming back to my blog as there is a host of old material about to be revitalised and rewritten.
And the video
I have recorded a video which you can watch on my You Tube Channel as well.
Other related posts
How To Commission An Architecture Photographer In 23 Steps might be of interest to some of you reading this blog post.
I also wrote a post Photography For Architects – 15 Ways That I Can Help You.
And if you have a hotel check out the post Hotel Photography – 10 Practical Tips For Hotel Owners.
And check out a couple of pages where you can find out lots more about me and my architectural and construction photography work.
As you will see, I stick to my specialism, photographing buildings, and rarely stray away from it.
Thanks for reading this post, which I hope you found helpful.
Rick McEvoy ABIPP
#freelancephotographer #hireafreelancephotographer #howdoihireafreelancephotographer #rickmcevoyphotography