06 Nov


Written by Christianne Bown


By: Susan Wilson Photography

Blog2Picx250v2Why should I hire a professional photographer for this shoot?

Because you're a professional in your field as well, you probably want to get the best images possible--which are almost never the cheapest images possible. As we all know, the advent of digital photography has led your Uncle Fred, your roommate, and a whole slew of other folks into thinking they're photographers (and undercutting serious, seasoned pros). It's true that the DELETE button on their digital cameras allows them to throw out out-of-focus, awkwardly framed, or badly exposed images--and that all kinds of messes can be cleaned up in PhotoShop. It's also true that the newest digital cameras are really, really smart. But a smart digital camera does not an accomplished artist make.

So, the upshot is that there are more people calling themselves "photographers" and putting up quick, slick photography websites than ever before! (In the business, this is now being called the "EVERYBODY'S a photographer" phenomena.)

What's the moral? When you hire a pro, you're not just hiring a person with a more expensive camera than your Uncle Fred. You're hiring someone who knows how to make you (or whatever the subject is) look awesome, using an artistic eye, an ability to put the subject at ease, and the technical skill to give you a riveting image that everyone will notice. You're hiring someone who can take your vision of yourself (or of the subject you want shot), and mold it into something eye-catching, truthful, and new.

If those things don't matter to you, phone Uncle Fred immediately.

What am I paying a professional for?

When you pay a professional photographer to shoot for you, you are generally paying for the following things:

• a creation fee, which involves their creativity and expertise;

• an agreed upon number of hours or days to do your shoot and deliver a final product;

• expenses incurred in creating those images (film, processing, post-production time in digital work, etc.);

• a print or scan of one or more select images;

• a repro rights fee on individual photos you wish to reproduce and use for professional purposes. This fee is variable and will depend on the use. Personal, editorial, and educational usages for example, are generally less expensive than commercial and advertising.

Who owns the negatives and the rights to the images?

According to U.S. Copyright Law, the photographer owns the copyright, negatives, or digital files on all images shot. In paying them to shoot, you are purchasing their professional services. When you buy "repro rights," you lease the right to USE one or more photos for a specific purpose, and are probably purchasing a COPY of the image as well--generally in print, slide, or digital scan form.

Incidentally, this is the same copyright law that protects all artists and people who create--whether they be composers, authors, watercolorists, photographers...you get the drift.

Why is it that the same image can cost me $50 or $500 to use?

You might be buying an image just for personal use--to put in your wallet or place on your desk at work. But when you buy an image for professional purposes--whether it be for newsletter or newspaper stories about you, or as the cover of your next CD or book--the price is significantly higher. In addition, editorial and educational usages are much less expensive than commercial and advertising. For example, an image you want to use once for an in-house newsletter or your own website will cost far, far less than one running with ads for a commercial product you endorse, and which are published in nationally-distributed magazines or printed on billboards. Also, covers--be it book, magazine, or CD--always are priced higher than interiors of that same product.

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