Advice, Commissioning, Photography
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IOP - Commercial Photographers - North-West - Midlands - UK Wide - Europe
07831 344 722

Advice On Commissioning Commercial Photography

When a prospective client contacts IOP we assume that they are also contacting other photographers. IOP are very keen to provide free no-obligation advice to help potential clients compare photographers on a balanced like-for-like footing. For this reason IOP have created this page which includes guidelines, questions and answers you may find useful to help you make an informed choice when selecting a photographer for your project.

However if there are any specific questions that you would prefer to ask us directly, please contact us, we like to chat and are happy take the time to discuss your needs without
any obligation on your part.

Why Do You Need a Professional Photographer?

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” which if the images are for internal use only, might be sufficient.

However, promotional material is often the
first impression a potential customer has of your business and while Fred might be an ace warehouse supervisor, do you really want to rely on his creative skills to successfully promote your business and commercial over and above your competitors.

If you really want to make a positive statement, use a professional photographer with direct experience in your industry.

To quote '
Red Adair' “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur”.

Can’t I just use images from the internet?

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’ the majority of internet 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, 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 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.

What about stock photography?

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 you can use them for (typically 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.

Do photography qualifications mean anything?

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 increasingly common in the current economic climate.

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 qualified professionals, it has to mean something!

However be warned there are some photographic organisations who allow their members to use impressive
looking ‘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*.

Do photography professional photography awards mean anything?

We have all watched the OSCARS and other awards and questioned the judges choice.

That said, most professional photographic awards are administrated by qualifying professional bodies such as the
BIPP, FEP, and judged by established experienced members of the profession.

Awards such as these should carry more credence, for a list of the awards won by Bernard O’Sullivan the proprietor of
IOP, visit our awards page.

How long will the photography take?

To use a food analogy, if you are hungry you can either grab a sandwich from a garage or allow more time and visit a quality restaurant. Equally; if you go for the restaurant option, 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 yeild a much better end result.

Will my deadline be met?

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 such timescales 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.

Do I need a photographer experienced in my industry?

Most of us wouldn't dream of ordering a pizza 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!

Will standards be maintained on future commissions?

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.

Does it matter what equipment a photographer uses?

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

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. It is reasonable therefore, if not vital, to expect a high professional standard of equipment.

Ensure your chosen photographer has a suitable
high-resolution professional camera system with associated high quality camera optics, necessary for BIG images with plenty of sharp detail.

Aren't camera phones good enough?

Please consider this; ‘Not All Megapixels Were Created Equal’!

If the ’claimed’ resolution of mobile telephones actually produced top quality large scale images, working photographers would not invest many thousands of pounds on high-resolution camera bodies (typically around £3.500.00 plus) and an extensive range of specific professional lenses (typically around £1600.00 each), not to mention specialist
perspective-control optics.

Are photography lights needed these days?

A    It is true that with advancements in technology, most cameras can record a scene ‘as you see it!’ fairly effectively. However, good photography is about creating an image that goes beyond what you merely see by going further creating powerful images.

Almost all subjects benefit greatly from the knowledge of where to add lighting to control what people notice using sophisticated lighting techniques and a myriad of light shaping accessories to make your products
come alive.

It is therefore in our view simply 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 Nine lighting heads varying in power and coupled with over Forty years of professional experience.

What sort of work can you do?

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

How many people work at Inside Out?

These days the majority of commercial photographers, work on their own and only use assistants if and when a job absolutely demands it. The reason for this is simple; to keep costs down for us and invoice values competitive for our clients.

When you book
Inside Out Photography you get the benefit of Forty years award-winning professional experience from Bernard O’Sullivan personally.

How much do you charge for photography?

There is no simple answer to this one, every job varies in complexity: from site characteristics to lighting requirements and project logistics and budget restrictions. We therefore prefer to supply an accurate bespoke quote based on as much information as the client can supply about their specific needs.

Having said that,
IOP do have a starting-point day rate for photography between £650.00 & £750.00 (+ VAT). This rate can be modified for larger projects.

Is post-production and re-touching included?

Basic image enhancement and removal of minor blemishes or distractions is included in the original quotation.

More complex
digital re-touching such as ultra high-resolution product composites, laying Tarmac, removing backgrounds and replacing skies will be itemised separately.

Do you charge for travelling?

Our old home city of Manchester is exempt from 'travelling-in' charges, so Manchester area based clients need not worry about additional costs following our move out of the city.

However as travelling uses increasingly expensive fuel and occupies potential photography time, we do have a lower hourly charge for travelling distances, as always we are both flexible and reasonable and take into account the overall scale of the project.

How far will you travel?

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 and it is a safe destination.

If you build it, we will come.

What about hidden charges?

IOP will never submit a low quote to entice a client in, we take great pride in quoting what we think will be an accurate final cost, based on the information provided and many years experience.

However, if extra shots are either requested or present themselves, we will inform you of any additional charges
before proceeding.

How much input do I have in the photographs?

It is my professional duty is to advise and guide you on how best to visually portray your message, however it goes without saying that, "He who pays the piper etc", photography is subjective and ultimately is a case of "How would you like your steak cooked?".

IOP strongly believes that a photographic project approached on a 'Think-Tank' basis makes for a better tailor-made result, in the end the only opinion that matters, is the client's.

How many photographs do I get to choose from?

Clients will naturally have a list of areas of their building, process or service that need to be covered. Where budget and logistics allow, IOP always strive to provide choice, with some processes being shot from alternative angles to facilitate design flexibility.

However; we do NOT
‘hedge our bets’, our Forty plus years experience tells us that the message if more effective if we prioritise costly site-time and concentrate on a smaller number of carefully chosen images, and only provide creative alternatives when it genuinely brings something 'extra to the pot'.

The above not withstanding, we are not prima-donnas we will give you the shots you want!

How are my images delivered?

A    Once a commission is completed, images will be typically delivered using 'Wetransfer'. If requested high-resolution cross-platform (Mac & PC) DVD will be mailed out to you.

What about copyright?

Increasingly commercial photographers are exercising 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 over what time period images can be 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 automatically grant full image-licence of supplied images as long as the invoice(s) are settled in full!

IMPORTANT: Supplied images must NOT be sold or passed on to third parties such as fellow contractors, unless agreed in advance by IOP in writing.

Will you sell my images to others?

Some images especially close-up shots could easily be converted for use by other members of your industry.

IOP 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 request the right to use any
non-confidential images for our own publicity purposes.

What about confidentiality?

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

As commercial photographers we are regularly privy to sensitive information, such as new industrial processes, future business expansion plans, product releases, or new contracts. It is essential that your privileged information remains private. Remember if your chosen photographer is willing to impart information about your competitors to you; it is likely that they will also discuss
your plans with your rivals!

IOP usually shoots through a laptop and will always ask if there is anything in the shot that is commercial sensitive before we save it.

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 confidential.

What insurance do you have?

It is recommended that every UK business takes out Public Liability Insurance(PLI) However unlike employers liability PLI is NOT compulsory, it is however highly recommended.

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 might go wrong, you the client might incur expenses such as industrial fair exhibition stand booking fees or missed brochure printing deadlines.
PII accounts for this and protects both parties, but don’t assume all photographers will comply! If you have any doubts, ask for proof!

IOP have never once missed a deadline in Forty years and although PII cannot guarantee your project will be delivered on time, 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.

How do I commission you?

This is a step-by-step process, starting as you might expect with an initial telephone call or email. This is usually followed by more detailed telephone discussion. We are also quite happy to visit our regional clients in order to view the site and discuss the shoot in greater detail without any obligation.

Will you keep me informed on my projects progress?

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 British weather.

How long do you keep images on file for?

Unless instructed to the contrary, it is IOP’s policy to store all images on multiple continually updated external hard drives for protection against the loss of the original supplied image(s) by the client or their agents. generally keeps 98% of images on an indefinite bases.

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.

Note: IOP will not be liable in any form for the subsequent lost of the original images by the commissioning client or their agents.

Ask your chosen photographer about their ‘backing up’ policy!

Are you a member of any professional body?

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. He also was chairman of the BIPP North West region between 2010-2013.

How do I the client prepare for a photoshoot?

Many clients are surprised at how much time and effort goes into quality professional photography and accordingly are sometimes initially concerned about how quickly a shoot is progressing.

IOP's experience any early reservations are always dispelled once clients start to view results, see the quality of the resulting images and begin to understand why so much time and effort is worthwhile.

However there are certain things you the client can do in advance to ensure you get the most out of our time on the shoot day.

Exteriors: If you require exterior photographs, please plan your deadlines to allow for possible sustained poor weather. This increases the likelihood of the photographer being able to shoot under optimum lighting conditions.

Site Preparation: Ensure as much as is practical that machines, or areas to be photographed are tidy ahead of the photographers arrival, and remove anything in the subject area and background that you prefer not to show.

This is essential to avoid time-expensive delays waiting for areas to be cleaned and ensure that photography time on site is as efficient as possible.

Staff Availability: When on site IOP aim to be as independent as possible to minimise disruption. However it is vital that any staff with essential knowledge of the processes to be photographed will be present and available on the shoot-date.

These arrangements will avoid any tensions if the photographer requires input or-co-operation from busy staff. Advanced planning by you and your staff will assist the photographer to give you the best results possible capturing exactly what you need to show and will help to keep costs down

Deadlines: In a similar vein, ensure you let your photographer know as early as possible about any deadlines you need to meet as well as any logistical time restrictions regarding when a particular process or person is best photographed.

Having said all of the above
IOP is professional to the core and will work within any necessary restrictions.

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

Inside Out photography are award-winning commercial photographers operating from
Manchester and Tideswell, serving the North West, Midlands, UK wide and central Europe

T  07831 344 722

Pen-y-Ghent, Manchester Road, Tideswell, Derbyshire, SK17 8LL

We do have a Manchester address for image restoration drop-offs

Link to Inside Out Photography Facebook page
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