4 Things Commercial Photographers Need to Discuss with Their Small Business Clients

4 Things Commercial Photographers Need to Discuss with Their Small Business Clients

Lead architects of a high-end design firm.

Lead architects of a high-end design firm.

Providing successful images for a business can be very rewarding, especially when it’s for a budding business that you get to witness growing. While all businesses, big and small, essentially have the same demands, a small business is most likely still learning how to work with various professionals and creating their processes as they go. Diving into a project with a small business can lead to lots of time and money being wasted if terms and project details are not discussed openly, early on. The following are some key factors to discuss with your small business client during an initial consultation so that conflicts can be avoided down the line:

1. Brand

Large family-run urban farm.

Large family-run urban farm

While we are hired in part because of the individual style that we have developed over time, a business’s brand is the first thing that needs to come across to their audience. When working with a small business especially, the branding should be clearly defined in order to be able to provide images that will be a great benefit to them. Do they have certain color palettes they work with? Are their graphics portraying a more formal brand, or a very casual brand? Are they nature-oriented, or do they work in traditional office spaces? What clientele are they catering to? All of these are questions that should be addressed in the initial consultations. A small business may still be developing their brand or creating a branding package, so without a brand to guide the images, there may be a need for updated photos once the brand is clearly defined. Expressing this to a client will not only help them understand that professional photography is an investment intended to last a long time, but it will also show them that you are keeping their best interest in mind for their long-term success.

2. Budget

Small businesses will typically have very low budgets, so the decision to invest in professional photography services will be a big one for them. Regardless of the cost for your services, there is likely to be very little (if any) wiggle room in their budget allowance. Being aware, and respectful, of the client’s budget restrictions will not only help ensure that there is less run-around in the planning stages, but it will also give the client more confidence that you are an ally. If you offer packages geared towards commercial work, consider having several options to select from, or to use as a kick-off for budget discussions. Often a custom quote is required depending on their specific needs, but some packages to give the client a ballpark idea of pricing can let them know what they can expect to spend.

Independent financial advisor.

Independent financial advisor

3. Timeline

Depending on how experienced your small business client is, their timeline for getting final images may not be very realistic. This is where it’s your job to educate clients on your process and, more importantly, on your specific ability to turn around jobs in a time crunch. Knowing their expectations about timing and delivery will be vital in creating a quote, coordinating any vendors (venue, props, assistants), and making sure that the client gets their images in time to use them.

Do they require any extensive editing techniques or talent that requires outsourcing? Did they request a location or backdrop that requires reservations and a long wait for booking? Will they need models, and if so, do they have specifics in mind? Are they planning on using these images for a specific event, or marketing campaign that has a set date? Which leads to the final factor to keep in mind…

Home-based food business products.

Home-based food business products

4. Usage

Many folks will assume that if they hire you to take photos, they then get to keep the photos and do as they wish with them. In reality, commercial work is generally very specific about what usage is permitted. If they are planning to use the photos on a product label, do you get any royalty from that product sale? If they are hiring you because of a large print marketing campaign, can they then use the images in email campaigns several years down the line? Are you granting them use for a certain amount of time, or can they use these images forever? Once you turn over the images, are they allowed to do any alterations to them?

While there is no one answer to these questions, be sure to discuss the planned use of these images and to clearly specify it in a contract. Both parties need to be in agreement with what is decided, and having this discussion up front will once again show your client that you value your work and intend to be completely open with them about terms.

Owner of a co-working space.

Owner of a co-working space

Although there are many factors to discuss with your client at the beginning of a project, these four points will help get the basic information clarified, and get both parties on the same page. These discussion points will also go a long way to helping you create a quote for them that is accurate and all-inclusive; avoiding time-consuming confusion farther into the project.

Do you have any additional points of conversation that are a must for initial client consultations? Please share in the comments below.

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Natalia Robert , founder and lead photographer of Full Circle Images, brings her background as an architectural designer forward to produce luxurious images that create a sense of warmth and culture. Natalia is based in San Diego, California, USA. She has had the honor of shooting with AirBnB for 3 years and counting, as well as with various publications, TEDxSanDiego, and countless small businesses to convey stories through strong imagery. Today, her furry co-pilot, Daisy, inspires a daily sense of wanderlust while serving as a reminder of how valuable it is to maintain a sense of HOME.