The Six Questions I’m Asked Most as a Commercial Photographer.
As a commercial photographer I have a number of similar questions that arise from time to time in conversations with clients, this month I’m using the blog to answer those questions. All the answers are embedded in the core values of my business in that I will only provide images of the highest possible standard and that any of my work in the public domain will not negatively impact on the businesses of my clients or myself.
1. Can I have the raw files?
The short and simple answer to this question is no! The equivalent to a photographer giving clients raw files would be a chef serving the ingredients for a meal without creating the finished dish.
Although I shoot as close as possible to the final image in terms of exposure, white balance and composition, the raw files are a long way from the fully edited files that you see on my website. In fact they aren’t even similar to the images that I may show a client on the back of my camera during a shoot. Those images are a version of the raw file with some enhancements added by the camera’s inbuilt software. Raw files are dull and lifeless, my finished images all undergo an extensive edit to create a polished and professional end product. As with all photographers I gain clients based on the standard of my work that is seen publicly, a poorly converted raw file could be damaging to my business and reputation.
It's also worth pointing out that to most people the raw files are unusable, the file formats vary between camera manufacturers and not all computers will show previews of raw files. Even if you are able to view the files they can’t be used in any way without converting to a widely accepted file format.
2. Why can’t I have all the images in my viewing gallery?
Prior to your session we will have discussed your requirements and agreed a number of images, I will always ensure that the number of images included in your package is sufficient to meet your needs. The price of your package is inclusive of both the shooting time and the time required to complete a full edit of the agreed number of images. During the session I will shoot a variety of images and then select the best for a “soft edit” and addition to your viewing gallery. Your selected images will then be fully edited to a highly polished professional standard. Should you feel you need more than the agreed number I will happily provide a quote based on the editing time. I am however unable to release the soft edited images since these do not reflect the quality of my work. Should these images be inadvertently shared they may be viewed as substandard images and could be damaging to my reputation.
3. What is the difference between a soft edit and a full edit?
A soft edit essentially involves a few minor tweaks to the raw file to make it viewable and may include some minor adjustments to exposure, colour and contrast. A full edit really brings the image to life and gives the polished and professional finish you expect when commissioning a commercial photographer. A full edit incudes the following where required:
4. Can I add a filter to my images?
Unfortunately not! As described above I put a lot of time and effort into ensuring that my work is of a high standard. I am commissioned based on the standard of my work so any sharing of images that have been further altered can be damaging to my business as well as infringing copyright. Before all of my shoots I have an in depth consultation so if you need a specific look to your images we can discuss and ensure that look is achieved in my edit rather than with a filter.
5. Why don’t I own the copyright?
There is a lot of confusion surrounding copyright but under UK law the copyright of an image is automatically owned by the photographer when commissioned by a client. The photographer retains the copyright and provides the client with a licence to use the images. The licence will state how the images can be used and for how long.
By providing a licence rather than full copyright I can ensure that my clients receive the best possible value since they pay for the image usage required. For instance, a sole trader requiring a small library of images to use for social media will not pay the same fees as a multinational company needing images for an international multimedia marketing campaign.
Although I retain copyright of the images I take my clients right to privacy extremely seriously. I never share any images or information publicly until after clients have started to use the images themselves and only share if permission has been given. By retaining copyright I can also ensure that images are only used in an appropriate manner and will not be amended in any way, protecting the businesses of my clients and myself.
6. Why do you charge more for large image files?
My pricing is a reflection of the licence required and has been fine tuned over my many years in business to offer the best possible value. With the rise of social media I found that some clients only needed smaller files for online use while others still need larger high resolution files for print and offline marketing. I offer reduced pricing for those businesses whose current need is for a licence for limited files sizes for web use rather than a surcharge for larger files. Clients purchasing smaller files are able to pay for an upgrade if their needs change and they need larger files and an extended licence.
Do you have any questions regarding commercial photography that I haven’t included above? Feel free to send them to me via the Contact Page and I’ll try to answer them in a future post.