📸 Skai Chan Photography

Things to Take Note when Hiring a Professional Photographer

You probably have seen some promotion packages (advertisements) in your social media but as simple as they sound, they may come with lots of terms and conditions. Since promotional flyers are designed to outline only the main points in the small space, many of the details won't be included.

If you're hiring a photographer, you may like to clarify the followings with him.

  1. Editing
    Many photoshoot packages may state "XX number of edited photos will be returned". However, there are many types of photo-editing, which the time and effort required would be very much different - thus the different photography rates.

    I classify my photo-editing into three categories - basic, advanced and extreme. (1) Basic editing includes exposure and colour correction and enhancement. (2) Advanced edit includes skin retouching. (3) Extreme editing includes adding and removing of items.

    Basic editing requires the least time and effort, and thus photographers can afford to quote much lower prices. If the client requires skin retouch, I would make sure the face would look as natural as possible, and even small strands of hair cutting across the eyes would be removed. Not all photographers have similar working style like me.

    Therefore, when a photographer claims the photographs would be edited, do find out more before you conclude that the package is truly worth the money.
  2. Professional VS natural light
    A photographer with professional lighting can do more than a photographer who doesn't have. Natural light can be very nice but it has many limitations.

    However, with professional lighting equipment, it also comes at higher prices.
  3. Duration
    The booked duration may include setting up of equipment and travelling in between locations.

    It takes time to set up professional lighting and travelling within different parts of the location will take up time as well. Therefore, if you have booked two hours of shoot, don't expect you will get exactly two hours of shoot.

    Due to these factors, I always advise clients to book at least two hours of shoot.
  4. Resolution
    Usually, the photographer will be returning you photographs of a certain resolution that will be good enough for your social media and probably small prints. However, if you need to print the photographs out in large prints, do check with the photographer first.

    For high resolution photographs, more flaws will be revealed and thus the photographer may have to handle it right during the actual shoot.

    For example, the photographer may have to try to keep the ISO low to reduce noise on the photographs. Higher resolution files will also take longer time for the editing software (eg. PhotoShop) to load and thus if the client doesn't need extreme high resolution photographs, the photographer can work faster with lower resolution photographs during post-production. Besides, smaller resolution means less flaws will be revealed and thus less editing work will be needed. Lastly, larger resolution images means larger file sizes and thus requires both larger storage space and longer time for transferring.
  5. Early or late hour shoot
    If the shoot starts early or ends late, that will cause problems to the health of the photographer. The cab fares would be higher than normal as well. Therefore, photographers may charge extra fees, just like hair and makeup artists (HMUAs).

    Well, some photographers do state that they don't charge extra, but they probably have factored it into their packages.
  6. Number of photos
    Somehow, many people take quantity into consideration. I stand by my philosophy that quality matters the most. You can have a thousand of photographs from a shoot but another person with just one fantastic photograph will gain the more admiration from viewers. In general, the more photographs a photographer works on, the lower quality they would be; or at least, he won't be able to put in his best effort for all of them.

    A photographer will likely take multiple shots, including test shots that are definitely unusable. You can expect to get only one fantastic photograph out of 50 or 100 clicks, especially if you are not a professional and experienced model. It's easy for any photographer to promise you a number of photographs to be returned and give you some unsatisfying work.

    There are ways too many factors that would affect the quantity of photographs greatly. For me, I usually tell the client "up to certain number of photographs" so that I don't need to include bad photographs just to squeeze out the number.
  7. Date of delivery
    You're very likely not the only client of the photographer. Logically speaking, he should be working for five days per week and eight hours per day. He has his other commitment and he requires resting. Therefore, do give him more time if you want him to put in his best effort to edit the photographs for you.

    A popular photographer may take months to return you the photographs because he has many other albums to work on. A hobbyist who doesn't do any editing can probably return you everything on the same day.

    Therefore, if you need the photographs urgently, you have to check with the photographer who may have to charge you for express delivery of photographs. It's subject to his availability though.
  8. Copyright
    By default, the copyright of the photographs taken by a photographer belongs to him. Therefore, you will need to clarify with him about this although you're paying him to photograph you.

    Some photographers are willing to give up all rights of his work for the sake of money, but not all photographers will. Some passionate photographers value their work a lot and don't even allow you to make any editing, including adding of filters.

    All photographers will need to keep posting new work on his social media to show his potential clients that he's still shooting. Therefore, if you need your privacy and don't wish the photographs to be shown to others, you have to discuss with him.
  9. Service agreement
    Every photographer has different working styles. Do read through his service agreement in case there's any miscommunication; don't make any assumption. The information inside may also help you to understand and thus able to cooperate with him to produce better photographs.

You may be interested in:
- FAQ about Photography
- What makes a photographer professional
- How to judge a photographer
- Misconceptions and myths in professional photography
- Why can't professional photographers take up cheap jobs

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