When does it make sense to hire a photographer?
Hiring a professional photographer can be very beneficial for certain businesses. However, many businesses can use photos from a stock photo agency or from its own cache.
The first thing you must decide is if the photos on your site will make or break getting future business. For instance, if you are in the building or landscaping trades, professional photos could show your skills better than amateur photos.
I have been given many amateur photos over the years to "make good". This is usually time-consuming but if they are the centerpiece of your site (like for using in a banner, opening shots on the home page or a special project you did), then it might be worth the cost.
But, if your business needs to show a lot of photos for a portfolio or for products, it is probably better to start with a pro.
I write "start" because I have often worked with clients to help them take better photos for their sites.
First of all, it may be difficult to always have the budget to hire a pro every time you have a new product or a new project for your portfolio. But, what you can do is hire a pro for the most important photos and then be taught how to capture the best images to use as your site grows.
How can I learn to take pro photos?
Well, you probably can't learn this without years of training but you can learn the following things to improve your photography:
- Right time of day/sun direction
- Basic lighting tips
- Basic background and color tips
- Clothing tips when people are involved
Another thing you can be trained in is how to use your camera. Whether you have a nice camera with lots of bells and whistles or are just using a cell phone, learning how to get the most use out of your equipment can vastly improved your shots.
One more area that works for some businesses is for a pro to help you figure out the best equipment to get for your needs and possibly help you set up a mini-photo studio at your business site.
Not all pro photographers are good at training or helping others pick equipment. When choosing one, make sure you ask the pro if s/he has experience with this.
One of ZagDesign's partners, Patricia Brunelle, is a videographer and photographer. She offers high quality products for businesses, has given photo/video training to businesses and non profits, taught in schools and has helped people set up small studios and chosen the right camera for a business' need.
Stock Photo Agencies
Over the years, there have been many online agencies selling photography, video and illustration. One of my favorites is iStockPhoto.com.
Keep in mind if you do use photos from a stock agency, those photos may be used by others. Stock photos are best to use for a blog post, as an accent to some pages or somewhat edited if for highlighted areas on your site.