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What should I know before asking a photographer for a price?

Date of publication: 14 Oct 2018 | Updated: 12 Nov 2019

A professional photographer will definitely help you to prepare for the shooting, but in order for your initial conversation to be productive, even before you start looking for a photographer, ask yourself these couple of questions.

Question #1. What kind of shooting do I want?

The question is too extensive, but this is a first thing any photographer ask you. This is also a good point to start. So, what kind of shooting there could be:

  • Individual
  • Couple. And there are so many options, it is better to clarify, love story, wedding, pre-wedding, friends)
  • Family
  • Event (birthday, wedding, party, etc.)
  • Interior (your business needs photos of the premises)
  • Promotional

Further dialogue depends on your answer, so let's look at some popular options.

Individual, couple or family shooting on a available date

This is the most popular option.

It implies that you do not have any rigid framework in terms of dates and keep in mind some concept you want to translate.

Before you contact the photographer think of what clothes are you going to put on. Suits-dresses-bathing suits. The right place for shoot will depend on your style.

Of course the photographer can suggest you some options, but knowing the "theme" of shooting is required to select the most suitable.

Also, if you have children with you, it imposes certain restrictions, but only if they are really young.

Event shooting tied to a specific date

No one moves the the date of the wedding or birthday celebration, right?

Therefore, one of the first recommendations when looking for a photographer for this kind of shooting is to do it as soon in advance as possible.

Finding a good photographer a couple of days before an important event is a very difficult task.

Secondly, this kind of shooting often implies specific conditions and charges.

Therefore, it is very important to inform the photographer on the details and clarify the conditions for obtaining photos, terms and restrictions associated with the shooting of specific event.

Interior photography of apartments, villas, restaurants, hotels

While for this kind of shooting dates usually are not crucial, he weather is very important.

Since the result of this shooting will be used for advertising for a long period, the thoroughness of shooting and the importance of quality results are the main elements affecting the cost and working conditions of the photographer.

In 99% of cases, you need a preliminary inspection of the premises, a personal meeting with the owner and discussion of important elements of the shooting.

Advertising photography

Although interior photography also refers to advertising, but it often does not include working with models. Advertising shooting with the participation of models is complicated by the casting of the models and stylists.

In advertising shoots preparation takes 70% of the time and budget.

The result obtained by the customer must satisfy him completely at the stage of sketches and preparation.

The shooting and post-processing is only 20% of success.

So do not expect the same price as for shoots of kissing couple on the beach.

Question #2. What kind of place should it be?

Of course the photographer will offer you a place for shoot.

For example, on Koh Samui in 90% of cases, one of the locations will be a beach.

And this is not surprising, because it is a tropical island.

But at the same time, it largely depends on your personal location.

The area of your hotel or villa may be too popular and taking pictures on the beach where vacationers are lying around is not an option.

Therefore, I recommend to discuss logistics.

In any case, Samui is rich in a variety of places for every taste.

There are palm and coconut plantations, waterfalls, mountain rivers and cultural centers, Buddhist temples and observation platforms with gorgeous views.

Don’t hesitate to express your wishes and expectations to photographer.

I keep a special selection of photos for each location and we can discuss exactly where we go.

What should I know before asking a photographer for a price?. photographer Dimas Frolov photo 1449
Photo by Samui Photographer - Dimas Frolov

Question #3. How much am I willing to pay for a photo shoot?

Most often, the question “how much is shooting?" sounds the very first in the dialogue.

And to answer it the photographer have to ask you the same questions that we just discussed, since photo shoot is not a fixed-cost item.

Then, why do you want to involve a professional photographer at all?

  • Well, experience in different environments. Anyone can take nice pics when the light is nice and the model is posing like a professional. But it takes only a little bit to change the shooting conditions and the beginner will face great difficulties that the professional has already met a thousand times and will choose the most effective solution in the current situation.
  • Experience with people. With different people, of all ages and types. The photo "we look at the camera and smile" may be one of hundreds, but if all your vacation photos are like this, it's sad. You can get live, emotional shots only from a photographer who, as a good psychologist, will set you up in the right way, defuse tensions and tell you what and how to do so that you do not stand as an idol but get a maximum of diverse pictures with real and positive emotions.
  • Good, high-quality equipment. This is great if you have a professional camera with high-aperture lenses, giving a sharp, clear picture. But most often such equipment costs a lot of money and buying such equipment for travel or rare filming of your family will be an excessive waste of money. At the same time, the photographer is a professional who does living by this and it is important for him to have high – quality, sound equipment that performs all functions at a high level.
  • Experience with technology is another thing. As they say to know how the pieces move on a chessboard is not the same as being able to play chess.
  • High-quality photo processing. The well-known word “photoshop” is considered something magical. But only because this tool has such a huge number of settings and features that there is a feeling that it can do anything. In fact, it is, the only question is the price for this work. But I moved away from the topic. I wanted to say that a professional photographer has been processing photos for many years and knows how to do it in the best way. Unlike most of people, who often act on the principle of “going through presets” and "this color seems cool."
What should I know before asking a photographer for a price?. photographer Dimas Frolov photo 1420
Photo by Samui Photographer - Dimas Frolov

Question #4. How much time do you need to be photographed?

  • "We just need a couple of live, emotional pictures for memory". Can it be done in half an hour?"
  • "I want to be photographed in 5 bathing suits, and I have 3 dresses. I think an hour will be enough".
  • "How much does a full day of photography cost?"

These are the phrases that the photographer often hears in the initial conversation. But unfortunately, any of these questions tell the photographer that you don't know how everything happens or that you don't know what you want.

In order to get live, real photos within half an hour, you need to be a professional model, controlling your emotions, poses and be ready to really work during this time.

But in 99% of cases my clients are ordinary people who at best in the past had experience of some photo shoot, and in most cases no experience at all.

So I limit my minimum order to 2 hours. In my experience, somewhere after an hour of shooting, the client begins to "enter the state of the photo shoot", we begin to feel each other and understand clearly the desires and visions of the situation. And of course, the 2nd, 3rd hour of shooting yields the most of “masterpieces”.

Photos that delight you and the photographer.

And will please anyone who sees them, because they will be real, genuine emotions and mood.

Having too large set of clothes, you risk to turn the whole thing into advertising, catalog shooting of your wardrobe.

Of course, if this is the goal, it is better to inform the photographer about it as well.

If you are not a professional model, as I already said, it will be difficult to loosen up when you think about how much of your outfits remained.

The need for a full day of shooting may be due to the presence or unlimited budget or simply misconceptions about the filming process.

And maybe both:) at least the phrase “half a day” or “full day” can be regarded by different people in different ways.

What is a half-day?

  • 12 hours (from 24 in a day) ?
  • 8 hours (of the total of daylight) ?
  • 4 hours (from an average of 8 hours of working time per day) ?

It is better to tell the photographer the duration in hours, but only after the answer to the previous 3 questions.

Perhaps this question will not come, because the photographer will answer it for you during the dialogue.

If you think that I have not covered all the important issues, write them in the comments and I will continue this topic.

photo: Dimas Frolov
About the Author

Portrait photographer based on Samui, Thailand.
Originally from Ukraine, he has over 15 years of photography experience taking pictures around Europe and Asia. Multi-Award winner and author of many articles about photography.
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