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Advice On Commissioning Commercial Photography

If a prospective client contacts me by telephone, I assume that they will also be contacting other photographers.

We are keen for them to be able to make an informed and like-for-like choice for their particular photography project
Inside Out Photography (IOP) therefore aims to give free no-obligation advice to help them compare on a balanced footing.

To that end, on this page you will find some questions, answers and advice you may find useful in your pursuit of a successful photography project.

Q    Why use a professional photographer?

A    Many times, I have been told by a business, that Fred on the shop-floor or Peter in sales has a “good camera” and “we take our own photographs”.

Now; if the images are for internal use only, that might be sufficient.
However, while Fred might be an ace warehouse supervisor that your company depends on. Do you really want to rely on his his creative skills to successfully promote your business over your competitors and ensure your commercial future.

To quote '
Red Adair' “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur”. Your promotional material is likely to be the first impression a potential customer has of your business. If you really want to make a positive statement about your business quality, use a professional photographer.

Q    Why can’t I just use images i’ve got from the internet?

A    Let's face it there are millions of images on the internet and many of them may at least loosely suit your purpose, plus these images are certainly easy enough to copy and paste onto your desktop.

‘BE AWARE’ many of these images will be copyright protected. It is a criminal offence to use these images without permission and potentially makes you liable for payment of a fee or compensation to the copyright holder.

This may sound dramatic, but as with being
‘found in procession of stolen goods’ this liability is not mitigated by ignorance of the law or, perhaps more crucially whether the image was received by you in good faith, for instance supplied by your web designer!

The bottom line is that it pays to ’do your homework’ and ensure you have a right to use
all images on your website and if you don't recognise an image, check where it came from.

For your own protection ensure that your designer
can prove that the images are either 'copyright free' or that permission has been granted by the copyright holder, otherwise it could end up costing you a lot more than if you had simply paid a modest image-usage fee. Remember it will be YOU the web owner that will be legally deemed to be in breach of copyright and legally responsible for all website content, not your advertising agency or website designers.

Q    Can’t I just use stock photography?

A    Stock photography, or Image Libraries, can be cheaper than commissioned ‘bespoke’ photography and come in two basic types.

The first type is called ‘royalty free’. Typically, you purchase a disc of images on a particular subject, which you can then use as many times as you wish for no additional fee. The problem with this type of photography is that they are usually bargain-basement generic images, similar to buying cheap one-size-fits-all clothing from a street vendor.

The second type of stock photography involves paying a fee! These are higher quality and available on a wider range of subject matter, to be likened to better quality off-the-peg clothing. However fee-paying stock photography can be expensive, especially at the ‘quality’ end! These images will also certainly carry restrictions in regard to, for how long(One, Two years), in what form (web use, brochure, poster, exhibition, TV), and where you publish images (UK, Europe, USA, World-Wide)!

Unlike commissioned commercial photography, both types of stock images are by their nature, generic and widely used, possibly even
by your direct competitors. These images can not represent your company in the same way as tailored-to-fit bespoke images.

Q    Do photography qualifications mean anything?

A    Anyone earning his or her living as a photographer, is by definition a professional! Unfortunately, it is all too easy for someone with little or no experience, to promote themselves as a professional photographer, this is especially common in the current economic climate following wide-spread redundancies.

We all live in the real world and have met qualified professionals in all fields who ‘fall-well-short of the mark’. Nether-the-less if a photographer holds qualifications from a
recognised professional body* and has won awards competing against other professionals, it has to mean something!

However be warned there are some photographic organisations who allow their members to use ‘letters after their name’ by virtue of simply paying a membership fee, these are
NOT recognised qualifications bodies!

The two main UK bodies that assess standards and grade professional membership are the British Institute of Professional Photography
BIPP* and The Association of Photographers AOP*.

Q    How long will the photography take?

A    To use a food analogy, if you are hungry you can either grab a sandwich from a garage or go to a quality restaurant, equally; most of us would be a little concerned if our main course arrived minutes after the waiter took the order. The point is, quality takes experience and time which costs more but will provide you with a completely different experience.

Q    Will they meet my deadline?

A    If you have a deadline by which the photography must be completed, such as an exhibition, web launch etc. It is imperative to inform your chosen photographer of any deadlines at first contact. He/She will then be able to make balanced judgements as to when to shoot, and exactly how much time to allow for creative photography and post-production.

As with everything in life, quality work takes time!

Please remember that there is also an onus on you the client, to allow sufficient time for the photographer to do the job to the highest standard, this includes allowing for bad weather, or delays in your supply chain.

Q    Do I need a specialist with experience of my business sector?

A    Most of us wouldn't dream of ordering an Indian meal in a Chinese restaurant, likewise it makes sense to select a photographer with proven knowledge of your particular area of business. If they have experience of your sector, they should be aware of any industry-specific needs, anticipate associated problems and be able to provide examples of similar commissions. If someone tells you “we do everything” it’s probably true! With the word ‘poorly’ added!

Q    How do I know if standards will be maintained on subsequent commissions?

A    Was that first job a flash in the pan? Will subsequent commissions be treated with the same respect and diligence?

Unfortunately; we have all experienced a wonderful first visit to a restaurant, followed by a disappointing second visit, usually after you have sung-their-praises to all your friends.

Inside Out Photography is passionate about constantly pushing our professional standards, we treat each shoot as if it were the most important client and commission we have so far dealt with. We truly believe if we are not moving forwards, then we are DEFINITELY moving backwards!

To us each job is an opportunity, and reflects on us personally.

Q    Does it matter what camera a photographer uses?

A    When it comes to equipment photographers have personal preferences and one thing is certain; having a ‘good camera’ does not make someone a competent photographer, any more than owning a scalpel makes them a surgeon!

However that said; it is reasonable and vital, to expect a high professional standard of equipment. Ensure your chosen photographer has a suitable high-resolution professional camera system, high quality camera optics, supplementary lighting, and if appropriate, specialist perspective-control optics

Q    Is a high-resolution camera file necessary?

A    Whilst images for web use, do not require high-resolution equipment, it is worthwhile remembering that at a later date, you may want to use those same images for reception display prints or exhibition panels, which is when you need BIG images with plenty of sharp detail.

So please consider this; ‘Not All Megapixels Were Created Equal’! If the ’claimed’ resolution of some consumer cameras or mobile-telephones actually produced quality enlargeable images, working photographers would not invest many thousands of pounds on expensive cameras and a wide range of professional lenses. IOP uses an ultra-high resolution 36.3 meg pix digital camera along with specialist high-grade perspective-control optics.

Having said that, experience and skill will always win through;
'Cameras don't capture creative images, photographers do!'.

Q    Do you use photography lights and are they really needed these days?

A    It is true that with advancements in technology, most cameras can record a scene ‘as you see it!’ However, good photography is about creating an image that goes beyond ‘what you see’, most subjects benefit greatly from sophisticated lighting techniques using a myriad of light shaping accessories that will really help to ‘make your products come alive’, namely choosing what and where to light to control what people notice.

It is simply therefore unprofessional to turn up to a shoot at a high tech factory with a hand held camera and using on-camera flash, it will not help to showcase your company at its best.
IOP always carry supplementary lighting, using up to Eleven lighting heads (approximately 6600 watts) coupled with over Forty years of professional experience.

Q    What sort of work do you do?

A    As you can see from the pages on this website, IOP handles corporate, commercial, industrial and architectural work. We do not offer high fashion, social portrait or wedding photography, visit our real-life case studies to view working going back over twenty-four years.

Q    How big is Inside Out Photography?

A    These days the majority of commercial photographers, work mostly on their own and only use assistants when a job really demands it. The reason for this is simple; to keep costs down for us and invoice values competitive for our clients. What you get is the benefit of Forty years award-winning professional experience from Bernard O’Sullivan IOP personally. Having the two operating IOP sites also means that we are able to service a wider geographical area whilst keeping fuel/travelling costs reasonable!

Q    How much do you charge for photography?

A    There is no simple answer to this one, while IOP do have a starting-point day rate for photography of between £650.00 & £750.00 (+ VAT), every job varies with complexity: from site characteristics to lighting requirements and project logistics. We therefore prefer to supply a bespoke quote based on as much information as the client can supply about their specific needs.

Q    What about post-production re-touching?

A    Basic image enhancement and removal of minor blemishes or distractions will be included in the original quotation. More complex digital re-touching such as digital landscaping, laying Tarmac, replacing skies or digital product finishing, will be itemised in the original quotation.

Q    Do you charge for travelling?

A    As travelling takes potential photography time as well as increasingly expensive fuel, we do have a lower hourly charge for travel, but we are flexible and reasonable. All travelling charges are calculated on the basis of the distance between shooting location and the nearest IOP office Manchester or Tideswell, Buxton.

Q    What areas of the country do you cover?

A    The simple response to this is; we will go anywhere a client wants us to go including overseas, as long as they are happy to cover our travelling costs. If you build it, we will come.

Q    Are there likely to be any hidden additional charges?

A    We have been doing this a long time and take great pride in quoting what we think will be an accurate final cost, based on the information provided. However, if extra shots are either requested or present themselves, we will inform you of any additional charges before proceeding.

Q    How much say, input do I have in the photographs?

A    It is my professional duty is to advise and guide you on how best to achieve your message, however it goes without saying that, "He who pays the piper etc". Ultimately photography is subjective and its often a case of "How would you like your steak cooked?". IOP strongly believes that a photographic project should be approach on a 'Think-Tank' basis making for a better tailor-made result.

Q    How many photographs do I get to choose from?

A    Clients will naturally have a list of areas of your building, process or service that need to be covered.
Where budget and logistics allow,
IOP always strive to provide choice, with images from alternative angles.

However; we do NOT
‘hedge our bets’, our Forty plus years experience tells us that the 'story will be told' with a smaller number of carefully chosen images. IOP concentrates on getting these optimum shot(s) first time and only provide meaningful creative alternatives.

Q    How do I get my images?

A    Once a commission is completed, a high-resolution cross-platform (Mac & PC) DVD will be mailed out to you. In the interim, if required, we can email you medium-resolution files and Drop-Box full res image files.

Q    What about copyright?

A    Some photographers may exercise their legal rights as the ‘author’ of an image to impose what is called an ‘image use licence’. This can legally restrict how, where, and for how long images are used by clients, even after the original invoice is settled. It is important to clarify these copyright issues before you commission any photography.

For our full terms and conditions please follow this
link.IOP will automatically grant full image-licence of supplied images as long as the invoice(s) are settled in full! We do not, however, allow for our images to be passed on to third parties such as fellow contractors, unless agreed in advance in writing.

Q    Will you sell my images to others?

A    At IOP we will not re-sell your commissioned photography to any third party, or include the images in an image library, without your permission. This is conditional on the relevant invoice(s) being settled in full, however we do reserve the right to use any non-confidential images for our own publicity purposes.

Q    What about client confidentiality?

A    Photographers often specialise in particular types of photography. It is therefore quite likely that they will have other clients in your line of business!

As commercial photographers, we are regularly privy to sensitive information, such as a client’s future business expansion plans, product releases, or new contracts. It is essential that this privileged information remains private.

If your chosen photographer is willing to impart information about your competitors; it is likely that they will also discuss
your plans with your rivals!

IOP respects privileged information, and all industrial or commercial processes observed, and agree not to publish or use in competition, any images which are deemed to be commercial sensitive.

Q    Are you insured?

A    Most of us are aware of the legal requirement under UK law, for anyone in business to take out ‘Public Liability Insurance’(PLI) However don’t assume all photographers will comply! If you have any doubts, ask for proof!

In addition to
PLI IOP believes that it is also wise to ensure that your chosen photographer has Professional Indemnity Insurance (PII).

Life is unpredictable, and often the delivery of a completed photography project is time sensitive. On those ‘once-in-a-blue-moon’ occasions that something does go wrong, you the client might incur expenses such as industrial fair exhibition stand booking fees or missed brochure printing deadlines.

IOP have never once missed a deadline in Forty years and although PII cannot guarantee your project will be delivered on time, but it will financially protect all parties in the event of late or non-delivery, etc.!In compliance with UK law.

IOP have public liability insurance to £5 million. In addition to this we also carry professional indemnity insurance of £70,000.

Q    How do I go about commissioning you?

A    This is always a step-by-step process, starting with an initial telephone call or email, followed by more detailed discussion. We are quite happy to visit our regional clients in order to discuss the shoot in greater detail without any obligation.

Q    Will you keep me informed about my project’s progress?

A    Yes, we will: being professional is not simply about providing stunning images. Equally important, is keeping you the client well informed about the progress of your project with appropriate regular frequency, this is especially true when it comes to exterior photography and the vagaries of the British climate.

Q    How long do you keep images on file for?

A    Unless instructed to the contrary, it is IOP’s policy to store all images on multiple external hard drives kept at two locations, for protection against the loss of the original supplied disc(s) by the client or their agents. Ask your photographer about they're ‘backing up’ policy!

IMPORTANT: If you DO NOT wish us to retain said image(s), you MUST inform IOP by clearly worded email, instructing us to erase/dispose of all files, in this instance, IOP will not be liable in any form for the subsequent lost of the images by the commissioning client or their agents.

Q    Are you a member of any professional body?

A    Yes - for the past Forty plus years Bernard O’Sullivan the proprietor of IOP, has been a qualified member of the British Institute of Professional Photography BIPP and is at Associate Level, and was chairman of the BIPP North West region between 2010-2013.

If you did not find your question listed here, please
contact us for free and impartial advice on commissioning professional photography.

Bernard O’Sullivan ABIPP

Proprietor of Inside Out Photography
Past Chairman of the
BIPP North West region 2010-2013

Your image is your future: trust it to a true professional!

Inside Out photography are commercial photographers covering the major centres of the North West and Midlands, including. Manchester, Buxton, Liverpool, Sheffield, Chesterfield, Nottingham, Bolton, Doncaster, Derby and UK wide.

T  07831 344 722   -   E

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