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9.5 reasons to use a professional photographer

You don't need a professional photographer surely?

That bloke in Marketing has an ace camera that he got for Christmas and that picture he took of his dog is, let's be honest, dead cute.

If you're agreeing with the above, then probably best not to read on, but if, as I suspect, you care about your brand and the image you've built up, here's my top 9 (and a half) reasons to think about hiring a professional for the job...

1: Because you buy the service, not just the pictures.

The actual images you end up with after a shoot are a tiny part of your experience with a photographer. If the photographer turns up to your business inappropriately dressed, bad mannered and with an attitude, then gets in the way, disrupting your work and generally making you feel uncomfortable, no amount of skill or equipment is going to get good photographs from that session.

It should be a positive experience for you as a client.

Having a skilled photographer around will also give you a fresh pair of eyes looking at your business and how you present yourself to the world. This consultative role is all part of the service, but to many clients can prove invaluable.

2: Because they know all the boring legal stuff

Understanding copyright law, model releases, image licencing, property releases and other legal jargon is essential for any working photographer. It keeps me awake at night, but if you're struggling to get to sleep I can recommend a few legal articles that will work like a charm.

3: Because they are properly Insured

Another boring one this, but very important. What if your photographer drops their camera? Will they sue you for the damages? What if they've dropped it on a visitor's car, who sues who? What if your MD trips over my tripod? A pro photographer should be insured to the hilt, not only to protect themselves from equipment damage or theft, but to protect you and your business.

(I know some clients who would love it if their MD tripped over my tripod, but hopefully you get the point).

4: Because the software they use is professional.

Photography software is expensive and ever-changing, but a pro will use the latest versions of the software and more importantly, it will be fully licenced, not some dodgy disk from a car boot sale that could leave you, as a client, exposed legally.

5: Because they will be part of your team

However big your business, hiring a photographer is a big step so it's important that you can have a parntership relationship with your photographer rather than a client/supplier one. Whilst you are working together, you need to be aiming for the same goals, and a pro photographer should get to know and understand what it is you want to say. A collaborative approach and the ability to work with your team at all levels are hugely important.

6: Because they have artistic vision

A fluffy one this, but an important one - your photographer should be able to 'see' the picture before even taking it. If I'm attending a shoot, I work it through in my head before I get there - what will the light be like, where will I be able to access, what gear do I need to bring? Where possible I'll research the venue or the subject beforehand. This gives an arsenal of things to fall back on in creating the right shots. If the weather changes, chances are I've already scoped out a different shot. I also think about how the image is going to be used - there's no point me taking a great portrait shot of your premises if you need it as a banner picture on your website, and if you need an image that is going to have text on it, I'll shoot it with the appropriate space to enable you to add this later.

7: Because they do it every day.

Professional photographers are out there, in there and under there every day, taking photographs. Honing their skill, dealing with different environments, challenges and situations. The person who benefits the most from this is you, the client. The more experience your photographer has of different situations, the better equipped they are to handle it. So whatever a shoot throws at them, your photographer should help you around the problem, not add to it.

8: Because they have good post-processing skills

Depending on the type of shoot, post-processing can play a huge part in your final images. Newspapers and event organisers typically don't want anything doing to their images, I'm there to capture what is happening and nothing else, but a fashion shoot or a commercial property shoot might require hours of post-processing. In these cases the post processing is as much a part of the creative process as the original shoot. Ideally everything is right in-camera, and software should never be used to 'fix' a bad image, but used well it can enhance an already good photograph. Most importantly, it shouldn't be obvious.

More on post processing in a future post so bookmark the page and come back!

9: Because they're professional

Your photographer should be professional in both senses of the word - they should behave professionally, but photography should also be their living. If you are using a keen amateur for your images, that's great exposure for them, (and probably cheaper for you), but do they meet all the criteria above, and what happens if something goes wrong?

If your photographer relies on photography for their income, they simply have to get it right

9.5 Because they have the right equipment.

This is a reluctant entry on the list so it only gets half a point, as it's a common misconception that good gear is the number one reason to hire a photographer.

I've got a fantastic, top of the range cooker and expensive cast iron pans. Don't come round for dinner though as I can just about make Ready Brek, and cheese on toast is a quite a challenge as it requires two different ingredients. Owning pots and pans doesn't make you a chef, and owning good camera gear does not make you a photographer. Most of the clients I meet have very good cameras, but they recognise the importance, and common-sense of doing what they do best.

That said, a professional photographer should have the right gear for the job, together with back-up kit should anything fail. More on this in a future post.

If you've read this far, you probably already know it makes sense to hire a professional, so go with your gut instincts, they're right most of the time. Above all, ask around, good photographers live or die by reputation, not certificates or awards. You can't fake a good portfolio and customer testimonials are the most important thing to consider. Ours are here and we're very proud that this is the reaction we get, but it doesn't happen by accident.

To see how we can help with your photography needs, please get in touch

PS, the dog's called Sydney.

© 2015 Duncan Lomax, Ravage Productions - not be reproduced in any form without permission unless directly linked and attributed to this page.

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