'I'll just take the photo on my iPhone. I don't need to waste that sort of money to get someone to come and get the photo for me.'
'I can't afford a photographer. Plus, my son has a big camera with lens thingy, so I'll just use that.'
'I'll just grab some images off the net. They will do.'
I've heard all of these statements, plus more, in my life. These can be modified for different circumstances (i.e., weddings or portraits), but essentially, mean the same. It's a lack of knowledge and power on the consumer. Perhaps they are time poor and don't do the research. Or, if they do know how important photography is, it's a lack of commitment - of leaning into the 'fear' of spending money on a photographer. After all, you can't see the product you are buying before it's taken. It's risky - or at least, you think it is. You have to commit, and then wait to see the results.
So, are these statements incorrect? Some would scream and rant 'absolutely!' But I believe there is some truth in them.
Yes, photographers can be expensive. And with anything worthwhile, you get what you pay for.
Yes, it takes an effort to hire a photographer. The right photographer.
Yes, sometimes you can stuff up and hire the wrong photographer or get the wrong results.
Yes, you can take the photos for yourself - but do you know what you are doing?
Yes, microstock is a damn lot cheaper than hiring a photographer. You could get 100 photos for the price you would pay a photographer to take a couple of you.
Photographers have studied the craft of design, light, composition and working with people in uncomfortable (not many of us actually like sitting in front of a lens) situations. This takes years of study, application and dedication. Photography for the photographer can be a lifestyle - all consuming.
Photographers know how to get the best results. They know how to shoot into the sun and still get detail. They know how to compose for interest. They know how to look at the light. They know how to pose subjects. They know how to tell a story in a single frame. They know their camera settings and how to work their camera to its limits. 'P' on a camera doesn't stand for 'Professional'.
If you hire through a recommendation or search an organisation like AIPP (Australian Institute of Professional Photography) to find a photographer, the risk is monumentally minimised. If you get organised with ideas, what you need out of the shoot, sample images, shot list - and communicate it all with the photographer - you will (I would expect) be on the same page and get the results you want and need.
Stock photography has its place. But in the world we live in, everything is becoming more personalised. Even (or especially) online. Your customer wants to know about you. When a picture tells a thousand words, and attention span is limited, a photograph is a perfect answer.
Stock photography can't help with the 'About Us' page, events, specific items you sell or create, or tell a story of 'behind the scenes'.
Commissioning a photographer will get you these things. Yes, you invest more money but it will make your marketing dollar go further. Photography is the investment in your marketing. It is the foundation. We all know what happens when a house is built on a sloppy foundation. You don't need an earthquake to see it quickly crumble, crack and fall. The same is true with your advertisements and promotion.
So, when to hire a photographer...
ALWAYS!!! We love our job and want to help. I want to help show off the world to the world in as many ways as possible. So feel free to contact me whenever you need.
For social media updates or smaller in-house projects where there is no budget or time for a photographer, perhaps you could study a short course. That way, you know the basics to get yourself out of trouble and get the best possible photograph. There is no point in putting up a photograph on social media that doesn't tell a story, is blurry, or looks ugly - nobody will pay attention.
My eCourse and mentoring program Better Pics for Business is starting in March. It's a great way of learning the basics of photography in a hands-on, personal way. Join us.
For website and print imagery, advertisements and campaigns - always speak with a photographer. They will get you the results you need to gain attention in the marketplace.
If in doubt, contact a photographer - you will soon work out what you can do. We are here to help you.