How Does A Client Select A Photographer?

by William Lulow

I have written previously about how photographers cannot compete on price alone. A typical scenario might be that a prospective client calls several photographers with a job. She looks at several photographers’ portfolios and they all contain images similar to what she has in mind. How does she choose amongst all the qualified talent?

She could choose the cheapest quote. If she thinks that that particular photographer is qualified to complete her project on time and within her budget, she might go with him. She will be aware that she has chosen the cheapest estimate and hope for the best, or, she might choose the highest quote, knowing that she has spent top dollar for her images. Or, she might choose a quote right in the middle. There is really no way to predict what might influence a prospective client about which photographer could best do the job. It depends on budgets, use of the images and the types of services needed.

Photographers usually rely on their portfolio of images to convince prospective clients of their ability to handle a particular assignment. If the photographer has many images similar to what the client wants, there is a good chance that he is qualified to handle the job.

Obviously, there are clients who are looking to get their jobs shot for the cheapest price. Then, there are those who can always afford to pay the top price because they know they will get the top talent. And, there are a whole slew of clients who are just looking for the right “match” for their photographic needs. This always seems to me to be the way to go for most clients. It’s really about choosing the right photographer to do the job that you have in mind. If you need to select between several photographers who are equally talented and equipped to do the job, I think that it often comes down to the photographer’s personality, ability and willingness to work with a client, all else being equal. It’s also incumbent on the client to investigate prospective photographers. Find out a bit about them and the images they love to shoot. What they love is most often what they do best and are really good at shooting. Also, if they have photographed the same types of  subjects over time, they will have developed a technique that will serve them well for the client’s needs.

So, for prospective clients, it should be about trying to find that someone who will listen to your instructions and who has the ability to translate those instructions to the two-dimensional medium of images. Remember, commercial photography is really all about a meeting of the minds between photographer and client to produce just the right image. With an abundance of images out there, this should result in images that stand out from the rest.

ExecutiveMagCover  CounselorCoverMAR09  2011_Jan-Feb_ME