Everyone’s a Photographer Series (2/5)

In a world dominated by images and a market place saturated with “professional photographers”, it may seem like a daunting task to find and choose a photographer that’s right for you. This series of articles covers the current trends, and provides some tips to help you in the selection process.

Part 2

Key Criteria for Professional Photographers

If it’s not about the equipment or the quality of the images, who are these “professional photographers”?

A professional photographer, in the true sense, is a person who earns the majority of their income from the business of photography and dedicates the majority of their time refining their craft in the field of photography.

At the end of the day, an independent professional photographer is a business person. As a commercially viable business faced with extreme competition, they may not necessarily have the most expensive equipment or the latest camera model; their images may not necessarily be the most artistically creative, or follow the latest trends on instagram. However, the professional photographer will be able to show a potential client, a gallery of images that respond to a commercial brief and shows the versatility in meeting the needs of a diverse range of clients over an extended period of time. The independent professional photographer will have:

  • a registered business (an ABN if operating in Australia) with business liability insurance.
  • business processes and contractual arrangements in place to interact with the client before, during and after the photoshoot.
  • a motivation to build long-term customer relationships, and are more likely to be customer-focussed.
  • a website or online galleries for public view to showcase their work with a number of previous clients.
  • measures in place to protect their clients’ images; have a good understanding of copyright, image licensing, model release forms, and be able to address concerns about privacy.
  • on request, be able to provide clear pricing and fees for services rendered.
  • protocols in place to manage situations when things don’t go as smoothly as planned.
  • they may (but not necessarily) have formal accreditation.

This list is vastly different from what a serious hobbyist will be able to provide as assurances to their client when entering a payment for service contract. As you will read in our next article, there may be many valid reasons and situations when you would hire a serious hobbyist, freelancing as a photographer rather than hiring a true professional.

However, there are some specific situations, when it is strongly recommended that you consider hiring a professional photographer in the true sense of the word; for example,

  • when a long term relationship will be beneficial; or
  • when the engagement of a photographer may have commercial ramifications to you and for your business; or
  • when you need to protect your images and investment;
  • when you want to mitigate the risks, in case something goes wrong.
Read More in the Everyone’s a Photographer Series.

Author: Dragon Papillon Photography

Sydney based photographer offering commercial product photography, visual content for websites and social media, portrait and event photography services.

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