A How-To Guide On Respecting Your Photographer

By: Amy Cooper, ACRONYM

Photography is a business. It's a service rendered. It's work, time, effort, deteriorating eyesight, back breaking, and cartilage erosion type work. Ask my chiropractor, I'm pretty messed up. 

But here's the thing - for some reason, Photographers tend to not get respected quite as much as other business owners. At one point, we had all come into the field as apprentices, learning the tricks of the trade, and yes, taking free shoots and opportunities. But toward a moment where someone goes from learning the craft to beginning their businesses, there is a fine line where people begin to take advantage of someone because of their talent. 

We have equipment that we spend thousands of dollars on, nights that we blow off our family and friends to edit, and physically, mentally, and emotionally work on the photos (and videos) that we produce for you to get the result you deserve as a client. 

So I came across these embed posts below on Social Media, and felt it was necessary to not only share with my clients and potential clients, but also for the other people in my feed in hopes of being able to express themselves in a thorough manner without coming off like a total jerkface. Yes, that is a technical term.


UNDERSTAND THE PROCESS AND WHAT YOU ARE PAYING FOR

The equipment that we buy tends to come out of our own pockets. We spend LITERALLY thousands of dollars trying to stock ourselves up, whether it be high quality lenses, computers, the best camera body to do quality work, locations that need to be rented, lighting to be purchased, and more. So when you ask someone to do free photography for you, or demand a discount, you are personally devaluing our work. Some of us take it very seriously, and especially if you are a friend of ours, it probably makes us feel as if you devalue our friendship, on top of our work. 

We also are granted the right for artistic licence when you hire us as a photographer. If a specific photo didn't end up in your batch, it probably did not come out the way it was intended when shot. We don't like releasing work that we aren't pleased with over-all, so asking us for the RAW files or asking if you can get a discount if you edit them yourself is also a pretty low blow. 


DON'T ASK FOR MORE PHOTOS THAN DELIVERED

This one I am a little bit more flexible on because I tell all my clients that every photo that I get that is good is what they will receive. Other photographers will occasionally limit the photographs that they will produce and it will be stipulated in a contract. When you agree to the terms with a photographer at the time of hire, you cannot demand more things after the fact. This is why you should always communicate with your photographer/videographer on what it is that you want, every single detail. 


DON'T EXPECT FREE PHOTOGRAPHY

There is a big difference between a professional and a novice, and when you hire one, you should know the difference. I happen to have been on the end of quite a few times where I had been taken advantage of due to kind nature in terms of giving away free photography, instead of demanding what I deserve as a professional. Now, I won't stand on a pedestal, but I use this money that I generate from shoots to create and add to my business. Though there are people more well off than someone like me, and can afford to throw thousands of dollars at the project in one shot - many of us are using the money that you give us for the internet at our homes or studios (to upload your photos), lighting (to light the space/studio), electricity (to continue our edits) and all the equipment we buy to keep your project looking ship shape. So please, don't ask for free photography. 

The edit to this process is that sometimes photographers do have to take projects for little to no money to get "exposure" - and it's up to the photographer's decision to choose what is worthy of that. Family Portraits, Weddings, Ect. are not exposure type situations, so please don't try to sell us that as your reasoning. Fashion however, that can be a grey area, but is ultimately up to the photographer's preferences.


DON'T CROP OUT A WATERMARK

This one is a little difficult during the age of social media, especially in the terms of Facebook and Instagram. If you have to position a photo in a certain spot and the watermark is removed, ask your photographer if that's okay. I get clients who text me and ask me prior to posting all the time. I also will ask them if they do something like that, to @ tag my business page on Facebook or use my Instagram @ to give me photo credit - both with cropped and not cropped items. Anytime someone sees that logo on someone's photo, that gives them a reason to check out our business on top of showing off our gorgeous work. Sure, sounds a little vain, but we love being bragged about. 


DO NOT EDIT THE PICTURES YOU RECIEVE

On top of all the other things I do with my business, I've trained a few models in the art of social media and how to be respectful. When someone presents them with photos, I've had to stop them from putting Instagram filters over the photos. 

The thing about adding extra filters and doing edits to the photos we present you is that it's not a proper depiction of our work. Not to sound anywhere near condescending, but you didn't study how to make a great photograph, we did. So adding X-Pro II or Valencia over a photo we've already crafted for you is a slap in the face to our design. At the end of the day, if you paid for the photos, then it's yours to decide, but it's really not something we enjoy seeing when you do end up crediting us on social. 


DON'T HIRE YOUR FRIEND FOR ANY REASON OTHER THAN ABSOLUTELY LOVING THEIR WORK

I will quote my good friend/client Jessica here - because she won't mind. I made mention before in one of my semi-rants about photographers who say "Don't hire your friends, hire me" as a sales tactic. I felt that it was a hit, mostly because I do have quite a few clients that are also my friends. She told me (and I'm paraphrasing) that she wouldn't have hired me if she didn't love my work. 

It wasn't a benefit of cost effectiveness (see the part about not asking a friend to shoot for you to get a discount), but because after family portraits, newborns, Christmas pictures, and her wedding on the way, she actually loves my art and creativity that I pour into the work I do for her. Please don't hire your friends if you don't love their work. A - it will be hell on the both of you because neither of you will be satisfied, and B - it may also put a strain on your friendship in the long run. If you love their work - then by all means, show them by hiring them... for real - because you believe in their work. 


UNLESS THEY OFFER, DON'T ASK THEM TO DO TYPES OF PHOTOGRAPHY THEY DON'T DO

With my business, I try to be as well rounded as possible, and I pretty much will take any challenge you can throw at me, but not everyone is as versatile. If someone is a specific type of photographer, whether it be event, wedding, landscape, newborn, fashion, or boudoir, you want to make sure you know the niche and the capabilities of your photographer before hiring them. You wouldn't hire a landscape artist to photograph your baby, or hire a club photographer to shoot your wedding. If you are a more versatile artist, or are willing to try, always let your client know up front that even if you don't quite know how to do it - you're willing to try and deliver. Otherwise, don't be a self-absorbed photo-snob, wing it, and then ultimately bomb the project. 


GIVE THEM PROPER CREDIT ON SOCIAL MEDIA

As photographers who constantly have to self promote, we feel a little vain at times. Notice me, Senpai! But the fact of the matter is, if you're going to post or repost some of our work, please, please, PLEASE give us credit on Social Media. A good deal of us get our clientele this way. We tend to present photographs on social with watermarks (see above), and we'd prefer to give you a watermarked image, but even if we don't, either link back to our social spaces, or at least put our company name in your post. We appreciate it more than you realize, and it helps us continue business from word of mouth... er... keyboards. 


DON'T INVITE THEM PLACES WITH THE INTENTION OF THEM TAKING PHOTOS

This is just common courtesy. If you need a photographer, hire one. Don't ask your friend to come to an event, and then say "Oh, could you bring your camera?" If your friends are as passionate about their jobs as some of mine are, you could very well not be friends very much longer.

Same goes for not explaining clearly what you're looking for when you are getting work done by a photographer or videographer. Don't say you need just a couple portraits done, and then take up 3 hours of their time, bringing them there under false pretenses.


KNOW THAT THE CAMERA DOESN'T MAKE THE IMAGE

This is by far the WORST thing you could say to a photographer or videographer. Yes, we spend thousands of dollars on great camera equipment - we know, we pay for it. But that doesn't mean that is what makes our images.

There is a battle in the artistic community that is torn between the camera making the person, and the person making the camera. There is something to be explained with this battle: It's like saying that guns kill people, not the people who are wielding the guns. We control the camera. We shoot the images. We compose the shot. We have the creative and artistic vision. So when you get a product from us, it's what we see as we craft the image.

Now, not every photographer is like this, sometimes it's really their camera that is doing all the work, and they are just pointing and shooting. But if you're getting a genuinely good image, the camera can't do that job on it's own. So don't insult us by saying it's the piece of equipment, it's just the tool we use to create your art. 


I hope you got some great ideas and information out of this post, and feel free to share on social media, whether it be to clients or friends. Thanks for reading! 


Special thanks to the Photographers Jacksonville Facebook Page for drafting these images and sharing them on social media.