When hiring a Professional Photographer by John Ferguson

Someone once said that a great photograph could speak a thousand words. Wise words indeed.

One of the most important issues that any new start-up business must be able to demonstrate for their clients is proving that their business website & marketing material communicates and conveys the right look and message for their products or the services they intend to offer.

One should always remember that the internet is a visual environment and one that evolves and moves on at a rapid speed.

And your website should not be immune to these changes. 

Photo by
John Ferguson

It's your on-line shop window to the world, remember you're competing against thousands of other businesses, and that's probably only just in your part of the country! So, therefore you must communicate quality, trust in your products, present you and your staff in an attractive and pleasing way to new clients and customers.

Your online visual representation is one of the most powerful tools you have that communicates with your audience, yet it’s so often overlooked and then becomes a point of frustration and annoyance later down the line. So your goal is to endeavour that your site is visually stimulating, authoritative, trustworthy,  bright, fresh and enticing, a reflection of your business, which ultimately leads to customers contacting you and hopefully making a sale or using your services.


But finding the right photographer for your business can be tricky. There are cheap ones, expensive ones, plain rubbish ones and of course some really great ones out there too. Unfortunately, there are no legal regulations or licenses that photographers need to hold. This means there's no guarantee of the quality of the work that a photographer will produce.

Fortunately, there are photographic organisations in the UK that can help you with these questions, and whose photographers have created self-imposed regulations and established formal associations to monitor and regulate the quality of imagery photographers are producing today. 

Organisations like these:
Association of Photographers (www.the-aop.org)
BIPP British Institute of Professional Photography (www.bipp.com)
The Guild of Photographers - UK Photographers Trade Association (https://photoguild.co.uk)
The Royal Photographic Society (www.rps.org)
The BPPA | The British Press Photographers' Association
SWPP: Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers

All these societies have professional members signed up to their membership and assess and advance the industry standard quality of photography. They all have search boards, and you'll be able to find any number of professional photographers in your area whatever your requirement may be.

For instance, if you're in need of a photographer for your range of small products, you won't want to be contacting a wedding photographer, you'd be looking more for a commercial photographer. Just as, if your business were selling high-end wedding dresses, you'd look to hire a fashion or again, a good commercial photographer to create creative editorial style photos for your designs.

Most of the time referrals come by word of mouth, but I always recommend you meet with the photographer before you start work on any projects or campaigns.


For most news startup's and small businesses, your chief concern is always your budget. But I’d advise you to be open about this when speaking with the photographer for the first time. Any fine or competent photographer will know what it takes and how much a photo shoot will cost to produced depending on the size of the shoot. They work out the day(s), the need for any photographic assistants required to accomplished the shoot, any venue or studio hire costs, transportation cost, subsistence allowances, etc.

They will also decide on whether you will need a make-up artist and/or a hairstylist, or maybe a food or fashion stylist.
BUT before you say 'Hang on, there's no way I'm going to need a makeup artist or hair stylist.' Let me just suggest that if you're spending hundreds of pounds on someone photographing you for all your business material and website profiles, and you undoubtedly want the world to see you at your best; then this is an absolute must.

These aren't holiday snaps you're putting up on your site but are professional photographs of yourself that will help provide confidence in your customers about whom they're aiming to do business or looking to work with. There's nothing worse than getting your beautifully produced photographs back and noticing that your shirt is wrinkled, or your hair is not quite good enough, or the shine on your forehead is a bit off-putting. Remember this is your brand and self-image that you're investing into. Believe me; the photographer will be looking at a host of other connected things even while he's taking the shots.

Photo by John Ferguson


Good photographers have a list of local hair and make-up artist who they have worked with in the past and their cost range from £100 to £200 per day.
Also, and one of the biggest frustrations photographers have when dealing with new clients, is educating them on the amount of time it takes for the post production of digital files after a photo shoot has taken place.

We all want the imagery to look it's best, sometimes a little better than it actually is, but this does take some time when trying to achieve the right finished look for your product or service. Whether it's blemishes, wrinkles, etc. that you'd liked removed, or you might require backgrounds cleaning up, or staff members moved from the wrong positions, maybe it's more involved digital manipulation, this all takes time and retouching is an art in itself.
The final costing for any additional work will be included in any quotes and estimate.

Photo by John Ferguson

It’s much easier and cheaper to fix hair, makeup, wardrobe, backgrounds, etc. on the day of your shoot than it is in post-production. A little extra thought at the start of any shoot will remember, save you money at the end of a shoot too.

For instance, if you’re looking to hire a photographer for your cookery business, make sure you have everything in the right place and order. Don't have unsightly and ugly pots and pans that don't match your theme in the background. Have fruit and Veg and other food stuff that look appealing and that will photograph well, use bright colours to show freshness and cleanness.
Little things like these take time to fix in post-production, and while the photographer will help with some of the arrangings, it smoothe's the photo shoot along if you have most of these conditions already in hand.
This may seem obvious, but you'd be surprised at how many people forget these simple practices.


One thing that I must say, however, is that you shouldn't expect miracles if you’re on a tight budget. If you have reasonable expectations, most jobs are possible. At worst, a photographer will always advise you on which are the best options for cutting the cost of the shoot without losing the quality of the final images.

So investing in the right professional photographer is crucial. One's who have good experience in shooting photography specifically for web design, marketing and promotional campaigns and who are up-to-date with all the latest technology.
Check out a selection of websites before choosing a photographer and ensure that their style matches your business image.

Photo by John Ferguson

Try not to use stock photography; your customers are very savvy and will mostly spot images that aren't genuine, they also lack personality and will lose your business some of the authenticity and trust which is exactly the message that you're trying to get across to your customers. Stock photography can be incredibly useful, and it does have its place, so if you are to use this method of imagery, use it sparingly.


Lastly, your website should be responsively designed, meaning that it has to be viewed correctly on all electronic devices, from mobile smartphones, tablets to desktop computers. Working with an experienced web designer and photographer, or providing the photographer with the appropriate wedsite designs would ensure that any issues can be smoothed out quickly and efficiently saving the customer both time and money.

Professional photography might seem like and expensive add-on for any new start-up or small business, but the end results will justify the investment. Working with new up-to-date imagery that's fit for your purposes will always benefit your business in the long run. Prices will vary depending on the amount of days needed for each particular job or photo-shoot, but I would start one's budget at around £350 when hiring a professional photographer. The total fee would obviously be dependent on the number of days it would take to finish the commission and other costs which I mentioned earlier.

You can see some of John's previous work here: www.johnferguson.co.uk 

You can also contact John through the website above.

John Ferguson is a well establish commercial and editorial photographer based in Suffolk but working nationwide. He as worked for many blue chip companies alongside a host of well-known leading National and International Newspapers and Magazines around the world.