Friday, May 14, 2010

Value for money?

If anything has changed over the last 2 years it's how people value their money and how they spend it. Even as the economy seems at the start of a recovery it will be a long time before the confidence is back with the consumer to spend like they did before the Credit crunch.

The knock on effect of these spending cuts have been job cuts, if the businesses are not making money they can't afford to pay the staff who work for them. With these people having no jobs to go to they pick up the easiest (or only) thing they can find to do. Many become taxi drivers (with the car at the door its an obvious choice), but on occasion some decide to become photographers and with digital cameras that some has become many.

The first question most photographers get asked is "How much they charge?", below I'll break down why that question should be the last question on your mind. I'm taking this from a wedding photography perspective as most approached to a photographer would be related to wedding photography, but it goes the same for all types of photography and some points even in other industries.
  1. Personality - Not the first thing most people think about, but if you are going to pay someone to do a job getting on with them would be a big part of getting the best from your photographer. Like wise they should like you, otherwise it's just going to be a long day. I've heard more complaints from people about personality clashes than a photographer's work. When I ask people to come see me on a booking enquiry, its not just my work they see but also who I am.
  2. Work ethic - A hard one to find out without recommendation but let's be honest you want them to turn up on time and do what's expected below.
  3. Work quality - Don't just phone a photographer if you know they have a website and haven't checked it. This may actually save you a call if their work is not up to standard that you want (we'll come to that). All photographers put up their best images for people to view but seeing a whole album is a must. So many people shoot over the professional's shoulders now its easy to get a nice shot with no input of their own and pass it off as their own (this happens).How do you know what a good standard of photo is? Look around at a few different photographers websites and look at images carefully, good work can speak for itself very easily. It has been well known that some photographers use a certain style of photography called "photojournalism" to hide their technical ability behind the camera and their interpersonal skills. Paul Crawford, a wedding photographer based in Northern Ireland has a blog on the different styles of wedding photography
  4. Experience - Any form of photography requires experience to be good and even more to be great. Don't punish a professional of 20 years for charging more than someone who's being doing it 6 months, there's no comparison, honestly. A friend of the family offer? If your aunt hasn't baked the cake then its probably best uncle doesn't do the photos. I've been doing this for 5 years FYI.
  5. Presentation - CD, Prints or Album. In film days there was one option only and the pricing structure was a lot more simplified, making price comparison a lot easier. Today people have a huge choice and that's good, can't really compare someone selling a £200 CD package to £600 album package, surprisingly it happens, A LOT. The quality of albums can vary hugely too and that affects the end price. Prices up to and over £2500 is not out of the ordinary for bespoke albums.
  6. Equipment - You don't have to have the latest equipment to take the best photographs but it helps. A working photographer should really have no less than two cameras, and backups of the most important equipment needed to work. This of course affects the over all price. The last thing a bride wants to hear on her wedding day is "My cameras broke....".
  7. Insurance - Equipment insurance, Public liability insurance and Public indemnity insurance. A working photographer knows what these are and more importantly have them.
If you only have a certain budget this is going to restrict the type of photographer you can get, but just remember sometimes that an extra £100 on a photography budget makes a BIG difference. Ask yourself "Why is that photographers so cheap/expensive?." The best advice is to shop around but not on price but value for money.



Ciaran Whyte said...

Some interesting points. However I'm not sure experience really counts for anything, or certainly I dont think more experience should equate to more costs? Isn't it all about quality (as you mentioned)? If someone with 6 months experience can deliver better quality than someone of 20 years, shouldn't they be entitled to charge more?

In fact, I would suggest that due to the rapid evolution in photography over the last decade, by and large it's the newer photographers that have grasped and embraced the latest techniques, tools and technologies, leaving a lot of the more traditional and more experienced photographers behind?


Brendan said...

Coming from a photography perspective experience won't matter as such, but as the photographer is running the wedding day for the couple, experience becomes important also.

I know of inexperienced photographers slowing a wedding down to a standstill because of not knowing what to do and when. That's nothing to do with how good they are at taking photographs.

Justin Curran said...

I agree with Brendan on this one - experience is of key value and importance - experience on hand at a wedding a tog knows xactly what happens and when - due to the fact that with experience wedding timigs generally have a natyral running order, someone who has very little experience is going to struggle!