Tips for Photographers for Working with Web Designers

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In this post Ramsay Taplin from Taplin Web Design talks about photographers and their interactions with web designers.

photographers-web-designers.jpgImage by photographer padawan

Over the years I have worked with many freelance photographers to produce photos for my Adelaide website design clients. In that time I have seen the best and worst of photographic creativity. I have seen “professional” photographers turn up to a corporate shoot with no shoes on. I have lost a hundreds of dollars worth of shots because a photographer thought it would be a good idea to leave a USB on my home front porch. But, I have also worked with photographers who know how to work magic with their cameras.

In this post I want to show you the 9 worst mistakes that freelance/professional photographers can make when taking photos for a web designer. I hope this information will be a useful resource for any budding young photographers out there who are just starting to work for and establish relationships with some bigger firms.

Warning: This post may contain rage fueled tangents of utter frustration!

The 9 Worst Mistakes Photographers Make When Working for a Web Designer

1. Looking unprofessional

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph I once had a charming young photographer turn up to a corporate photo shoot with no shoes on. She was extremely good at what she did and turned some pretty boring “suits” into powerful looking businessmen (much to their surprise!). But, unfortunately, her dress sense really let her down.

I don’t mean to sound like a starchy old fuddy duddy here. I’m really not like that. But I have to emphasize how important it is to look professional when you are performing a professional service.

There are three things at play here. Firstly, dressing like a slob who just woke up makes my firm look bad. I hired you to take photos for my client and therefore would love it if you brought some shoes to the shoot. Secondly, it reflects badly on you and makes me reluctant to hire you again. And thirdly, it doesn’t make the guys in the photos feel very secure. They need to feel like they are in the hands of a professional and are going to end up looking like superstars.

To be honest, I kind of envy the girl who rocked up with no shoes on. I wish I was brave enough to do that! But we live in a vain world where first impressions are very important. For that reason it is vital to look like a professional.

2. Understating your abilities

Something that really bothered me when I was first starting to work with professional photographers was how they were reluctant to tell me how good they were. I realize, now, that they were just trying to be humble and graceful but at the time it made me really stressed because I didn’t know whether they’d be able to achieve the results that I wanted.

If you have been hired by a website design firm to take photos for a new web creation please make sure you let them know exactly what you can do. If you feel you know how to turn a buggered up drab old office-front into a vintage looking workshop of fairy-dust then please let me know! If I know what your capabilities are I will push you to achieve something better for my client. Try and find a balance between humility and selling yourself. It’s hard but worthwhile.

3. Overstating your abilities

The opposite end of the spectrum is admittedly a much worse predicament to be in. I remember working with a very young photographer I had met at a cafe who really overstated his abilities. The kid had the gift of the gab but that was about it. He “seduced” me into using his services but looking back I think he had probably just purchased his first Canon SLR and thought that he would automatically be taking superb photos. He was wrong. The photos were blurry, over exposed and extremely unprofessional. I ended up paying his fee and making the embarrassing move of calling up my client to organize a re-shoot. A big waste of time.

If you do not feel like you can get the photographs that the web designer is asking for then please don’t take the job. Both you and the designer will be better off. Sure, you won’t get the fee but you will save a lot of face and possibly your reputation. The last thing a freelance photographer needs is a bunch of website designers badmouthing your photos.

One saying I have always identified with is “under promise, over deliver“. I think it works well for the art of photography. Don’t get your client’s expectations too high and then surprise them with an amazing end product.

4. Showing up late

I grew up in very business-minded family. My father always taught me that being late was one of the most unprofessional things you could do. As a result I am always on time and I expect the same thing of the people I hire. If I am paying you a few thousand dollars to come out and meet my clients and take photos for their website then I ask that you rock up when I want you there, not when you feel like it.

I am sure for most people out there this one is a given. But I need to emphasize it because it really is important. Quite often photographers will be hired by their friends and as such there is a temptation to think that one can be a bit more relaxed with the “rules” of business. Please don’t fall into that trap.

5. Not asking questions

I once had a photographer pull me aside and say “aaahh… the guy in the front has a massive wad of snot on his lip…. does that… ahh… matter?” Bloody oath it matters! I am glad she asked me though because that little boogie could have ruined the whole shot.

Any professional photographer will tell you that one of the worst feelings you can have is when you go home after a shoot, plug your camera into your computer and look at a whole bunch of photos that turned out nothing like what the client wanted. It is the pits. Asking questions, however, often solves this problem.

When you are out on a job the website designer will usually be with you. They will probably give you some instructions on what they want and how they want the final product to look but other than that you are on your own. Please do not feel embarrassed to ask questions during this time. It doesn’t matter how silly they sound, it is better to ask them now then have to reorganize the shoot because the photos didn’t turn out how the client wanted.

6. Not working within the instructions

This is where the rage fueled rant comes in! One of the most irritating things a freelance photographer can do is assume that they know better. The worst thing you can do as a photographer is ignore the instructions and take bunch of photos that you think will suit the website.

Here is why it is annoying. A good website designer will have created a preliminary design before he/she goes out and gets the photos. This means that the photos need to “work” with the design and not the other way around. Let me give you an example of how it should be done:

I recently designed a simple brochure website for one of South Australia’s largest landscaping businesses, Garden Works Landscaping. The client wanted some elegant photos that showed off their products and their office site. I explained to my photographer that the website was going to be quite wide and that space for the photos would be very narrow. Portrait shots would not work.

She took the advice on board and when we rolled up to the Garden Works premises for the shoot I was extremely impressed to see that she had brought along a vast array of wide angled lenses and even spent some of her own money hiring a super wide lens for the weekend. This showed me that she had listened to my instructions and was ready to work within them.

Needless to say I have hired her for every outdoor job since.

7. Not bringing everything you need

As a photographer you are being paid for two things: your skills and your equipment. If you fail to bring some of that equipment the job is not going to be complete.

One idea my crack photographer has is to develop a “Shoot List”. On that list she has all of the things she will need at a photo shoot – camera, point and shoot camera, lens cleaner, lens cleaning pen, USB, lenses, etc. Then, the night before the shoot, she just pulls out the list and goes through ticking off each item. That way she is always prepared and never has that feeling of “oh I left something at home”.

8. Failing to remember your manners

This tip comes not so much from my web design business, but from a wedding I attended last weekend. The photographer was a very talented man but he was grumpy as all hell. He spent the whole time yelling at people to get in the right position and almost made one of the bridesmaids cry!

As I said in number seven, part of what you are being paid for as a photographer is your skills. This does not just mean your photographic skills but also your skills in dealing with people. The world’s best professional photographers are probably no better at taking photographs than many other professional photographer – their point of difference is their ability to deal with and manipulate people. And people love good manners. Just look at TV shows like Americas Next Top Model or American Idol – the photographers who get the best results are the ones that know how to schmooze the people in front of the camera.

9. Not sending the files when you say you will

I think I have some bad karma when it comes to receiving things on time because it seems as though no one sends things when they say they will. It is quite annoying. But, if it karma I must deserve it right?

If you tell me you are going to send the photos on Wednesday chances are I will set some time aside on Wednesday to work with them. That means I will sit in front of the computer all day with a coffee waiting for my inbox to flash “1 New Email”. Not really. But, when they don’t arrive it can put a bit of a dent in proceedings. Try to send the photos when you say you will – it makes you look really professional.

Conclusion
Honestly speaking, it is the photographers who make our websites beautiful. Sure, our designs make a difference but it is often the quality of the photos that really make the site pop off the screen. Sadly, however, it is not just your amazing photos that dictate how successful your career is. It is also important to look nice, talk politely and so on. If you remember this other (boring business) stuff I am sure you will go far.

Have you ever made any of the mistakes above or worked with someone who has? Have I missed anything important that young photographers might need to know? Leave a comment below – it might really help someone!

This post was brought to you by Ramsay Taplin from Taplin Web Design – an Australian based web design company hell bent on unleashing your firm’s online potential.

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Darren Rowse

is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals.

He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • oldwolf

    Great tips. I’m glad someone posted these. I’ve noticed a few starting photographers make these mistakes and it irritates me that they are giving the rest of us a bad name.

    Not all photographers are that flaky hehe.

  • Great article, thanks Ramsay. I think i can summerize it:
    Be prepared! 🙂

  • Really interesting and enriching article. I think the most important point is the third one because if the photog’r fails in any of the other points, you’ll still have some photos, maybe good or bad but surely usable ones at least. But if you fail in point 3… man, you screwed it up.

    I think the best way of thanking you for this article is giving you some tips too, but in the web design area.
    On the one hand, you really should get rid of the PNG for photographs, for instance this: http://taplinwebdesign.com.au/images/pitch.PNG in your main website. Almost 300KiB for a 790x248px image is just ridiculous. You should use JPG instead.

    You said that the photographer for the Garden Works website was great and you hired her for other jobs too… You should think about it again: this photograph http://gardenworkslandscaping.com.au/images/42.JPG is REALLY overexposed, as well as other ones.

    Please don’t take it as a criticism but as a piece of advice. Thanks for the article.

  • I can’t agree more with the “manners” part. I work weddings and feel that people that excel in my niche aren’t necessarily rockstar photographers – its the poeple skills that allow them to rise above (word of mouth increases with a quality experience, more bookings means more shooting, more shooting means better technical skills – its all connected).

  • 90% of success really is showing up and doing what you say your going to do.

    Understanding the needs and specs of web site designers is in an important topic. It is the future of the photography business.

    Also helping web designers educate their clients on the advantages of good custom photography is very important.

    Many designers are tired of using the same ol’ stock and looks. In this competitive world clients need to understand that good enough is not good enough anymore. Poor photography will earn the company poor results.

    Web design companies are the new advertising agencies for photographers.

    Rosh

  • Chet

    Great read. One of the reasons I decided to take my photography more seriously is because I needed pictures for the sites I was making.

    Now I prefer making pictures more than building sites and I read this from a photographers perspective. Wow, I feel so encouraged!

    I’ve always tried to convince people of the importance of good photos on their site, but many don’t want to pay for it.

    It’s encouraging to hear about good designers who are concerned about obtaining good photos for their designs.

  • Really like the article, and you can easily replace the photographing part by a dozen or more other professions.

    It’s a perfect guideline for what a professional is or should be.

  • Pat

    Great advice that extends far beyond working for web designers 😉

    What you describe here should be common sense and certainly not expected from any professional person.

  • Matt

    Where can a photographer bid or find web designers that would be interested in doing some work? I’m near Chicago and have shot professionally before with some published work.

    Thanks!
    -Matt

  • I have to say I was disappointed with this article. It’s all great advice, but it seems like you can replace “photographer” with pretty much any profession and “Web Designer” with pretty much any job.

    I was hoping to get some insight or advice specifically for working in photography for the web. There really isn’t any in this article.

  • What Pat said!

  • Awesome info! I am also a web designer and have started taking photos for my customers. Great advice, thanks

  • JerBear

    All in All, great tips and any amateur photographer aspiring to go professional would do good to follow them. Those that want to be called pros, should already know them.

    I brought this up with my crew and we had a very lively discussion on the points that you brought up. One thing that stood out above all, was the fact that “young” photographers were always being commissioned for the shoot. Why was that? Could it be because the Pro’s were too expensive?

    I can not tell you how many times we are called out to complete an assignment because the client thought they could get away with someone starting out. I’ll ask them why they did not call us first and usually they answer because we cost too much. Now, they have to face their clients with the need to do a re-shoot and all the hassles that come with that AND they still end up paying for a professional to complete the job

    Looking professional at a shoot will command respect, your dress, manners, conduct and attitude will make your assignment go much smoother. That being said, those commissioning photographers should “verify” the attire expected for the assignment.

    Do not accept an assignment beyond your capabilities. Clients are not paying for you to learn on the job. Clients (web designers, etc.) should not commission anyone without seeing a portfolio of the photographers work and an interview. Clients should also be clear and discuss what it is that they are looking for. Client and Pro should have a plan of action before the assignment even starts. Pro should also make clear if what the client wants is not really going to work.

    Turn around time is something that cuts both ways. I know a lot of photographers that take their sweet time in delivering the files, don’t know why, but for the life of me, I don’t get it. We schedule our assignments as soon as we can, shoot it, post process and then deliver the files. Only then do I run their credit card through billing.
    On the other hand, Clients ALWAYS want their files yesterday; they do not realize that there is always post production work needed to finish the job correctly. We do let them know ahead of time what the turn around will be, if they need it sooner, then we factor that in to the price.

    Just a thought

    JM

  • Some great suggestions for anyone trying to pursue a career in photography. Even though the job itself may be slightly “un-conventional” it is still important to remember proper business etiquette and that this is in fact a job.

    -Timothy

  • Nothing revolutionary here. These advices could be used for field… It is called being professional.

    One point I would add is to ask the designer who would be doing the editing so the same task would not be done two times…

  • Odyn

    “It’s all great advice, but it seems like you can replace “photographer” with pretty much any profession and “Web Designer” with pretty much any job. ”
    Yea, for example you can replace it with “Web designer” and “designer’s client” 😉

  • ben

    There seems to be a cut and paste error in the gallery (http://gardenworkslandscaping.com.au/gallery.html). The last two thumbnails on the bottom row leads to the same as the last two thumbnails on the top row.

    gallery4.PNG -> 41.JPG
    gallery5.PNG -> 23.JPG

    gallery9.jpg -> 41.JPG
    gallery10.jpg -> 23.JPG









  • i’m a web developer and if i could afford a photographer i’m sure i’d expect them to be as professional as i am. otherwise there is always the stock image library, which is great for us cheapskates 🙂

  • “This tip comes not so much from my web design business, but from a wedding I attended last weekend. The photographer was a very talented man but he was grumpy as all hell. He spent the whole time yelling at people to get in the right position and almost made one of the bridesmaids cry!”

    This is so true… I’ve encountered such a photographer once and I believe that’s so unprofessional.

  • You’ve touched on the professionalism part of the relationship between a photographer and web designer. I’d just like to add a few technical points.

    First send your web designer appropriately sized files. That 14 megapixel beauty that you love is worthless for a web page. If you had taken it at 1600 X 1200 pixel resolution, it would lose a lot less detail in the mandatory resizing it will need to fit on a web page. An 800 pixel by 600 pixel image is enormous by web page standards.

    Next, name all your images with descriptive titles. That way when discussing an image it will be easy for the two of you to get the same picture in front of you. Don’t use commas, apostrophes, pound signs or other non-letter or number symbols in your names. Some web servers will choke on them. If you really want to be nice to your web designer leave no spaces in the file names. Use hyphens or underscores to separate the names.

    For example red-ford-ranger-front-view.jpg is good. big_leaf_maple_closeup.jpg is fine too. Dr. Brown #1.jpg is not. It has spaces an extra period and a pound sign, all of which can be messy when dealing with web servers. Dr-Brown-1.jpg would be much better. I don’t know about Windows but there are a couple of Mac programs for renaming files as well as Applescripts that come with the Mac that do the same thing. I assume that there are even more Windows equivalents.

    Include a contact sheet or Photoshop generated web gallery on the image CD or USB drive. That will greatly facilitate communication with you the web designer and the end client. I once got 700 images from a hospital, all with the original camera file names/numbers. The publicity director would then refer to the picture of Doctor Brown. I had no idea what Dr. B looked like and wasn’t willing to find the time to find out. The hospital paid me an extra couple of hours making the contact sheets that the staff then had to use to indicate which image ended up on which page. The photographer should have supplied that in the first place.

    And finally, make da-n sure that you send quality images in digital format TIFF JPEG and PSD all work PNG’s that have been processed with Fireworks do too. Don’t expect a web designer to be happy with raw format or DNG files. Process them yourself into high quality JPGs if TIFFs. Send all JPGs at highest quality setting. Don’t try to do the web designers job of optimizing the images. If they need any more editing, the designer will want the best possible image. Let her or him do the final optimization. That can be done in batches, so it’s not a problem.

    I’ve gotten some junk from photographers who knew better. I’ve also gotten prints that I had to scan. I not only had to scan the images, remember that all scanned images need retouching. That client was not really happy with the extra three hours that added to his bill.

  • JerBear

    Sounds like Michael wants photographers to do all his grunt work….. A descriptive title on all his photos…Let HIM do it. You want less than 800×600 pixels sent, yet you want the highest quality available for optimizing, sounds like you do not have a grasp of digital photography.

    I could go on, but is it me or are the posts here by the “Web designers” a little on the rude side? Maybe if they would get off their high horse and work with their pro photographers, they would not be so constipated.

    Think about it…..

    JM

  • ben

    @michael, deliver what your clients request.

    I would be pissed if a photographer I hired delivered all of his pictures at 800×600. I want them delivered as large as possible, so I can crop them to my liking.

  • sk66

    Having worked both sides of this issue as both a web designer and as a photographer the one addition I would like to make goes to the “ask questions” part.

    It is to “communicate”. As noted, a proposed web design has probably been “storyboarded” and is proceeding with the approved design. The Web designer must share the overall design layout and prototype pages with the photographer, and if not, the photographer should ask to see it.
    Pictures similar to the desired results in overall look and feel would be great reference for the photographer.
    If you tell me you want a “classic/elegant” image….well that really only means whatever “I”, as the photographer, interpret “classic/elegant” to be.
    Designers and Photographers both tend to be very visually oriented and “pictures” communicate well for them. If I do not TRULY understand the goal; I may very well fail to deliver even if I am quite capable.

    There are many other particulars to be worked out…file size, format, post, etc. That will vary by client (and pricing) and can’t really be simplified in a single post.

  • JerBer says “Sounds like Michael wants photographers to do all his grunt work”.

    I’ve worked both as a web designer and photographer. I may have overstated the extent to which photographers need to name images. Some of the naming has to do with search engine optimization and is legitimately the web designer’s job.

    That said, if you create extra work for the designer, I’ll guarantee that you won’t get referrals or contracts from that designer. If you are doing photography as a living that should mean something to you. The design firm I worked for averaged 2 or 3 referrals out to photographers a month. The ones we recommended were the ones easy to work with. There are a lot of skilled picture takers around. There are many fewer actual *professional* photographers.

    Making your photos easy to work with is your job as a pro. Sending a CD of photos with camera generated file names doesn’t cut it, especially if you’ve shot multiple sessions and your camera starts numbering each session over. That can easily lead to multiple photos with the same file name. They may be in different folders but they’re still hard to sort out.

    It’s straightforward for you, the photographer to batch title and/or date related shots. That’s a step that I consider the minimum professional attention to detail. It helps the client, who probably doesn’t understand EXIF data, organize photos. It helps the web designer, who will probably be working directly from a CD and won’t, without using something like Bridge, have access to EXIF data. And in archiving your photos it is possible to lose your EXIF data during transfer. It’s not common but does happen. Good file naming conventions can save your bacon.

    And as to naming photos with only numbers or letters, that’s not just a web server issue but an operating system one. Photoshop on Macs, which 80% of professional design shops with more than 2 people use, can’t always deal with some Windows file names. I’m talking actual pro web designers here, not just someone with a copy of Dreamweaver and a good sales pitch.

    Running a batch operation on a couple hundred photos, only to find that some were skipped because of their file names is a pain. Being professional includes simple consideration of your client’s needs. That also pertains to other professionals your client needs to work with.

  • Ben said “I would be pissed if a photographer I hired delivered all of his pictures at 800×600”

    Perhaps you didn’t read my comment carefully, Ben. I suggested a resolution twice that.

    It’s all about communication. Any assumption you make as a photographer could be wrong. If you have a job to shoot photos for a web site, both you and the web designer will be happier if you talk first.

    When I shoot for web pages I’ll use two cameras. One with the image size set for 3 MP and one at maximum. For me that’s 12 MP. Yes, it’s a pain. Clients often want images for print as well as web. If they don’t at the time of shooting, many do later. Having an extra set of photos that you can sell is not a bad idea.

    A reasonable alternative is to offer the web person a disk with both high and medium resolution images. If you do the conversion yourself, you’re more likely to see optimum results. It’s not just the designer who has a reputation to consider. A good web site with your photos is a great portfolio builder.

    And, if you compare the detail on a 10 MP photo, downsized to fit on a web page with that of a 2 or 3 MP photo, you’ll see that the less you have to downsize an image the sharper it is.

  • ben

    @michael, I may have misinterpreted your intent, but you did write “An 800 pixel by 600 pixel image is enormous by web page standards.” Also, I prefer to let my camera shoot at its native resolution in raw and leave the downsampling until after it is downloaded to the computer. A decent computer and Photoshop / Lightroom is a much better for resizing images than the tiny processor in the camera.

  • Sherine

    Thank you. This is a very good advice article for whoever wants to be a professional photographer; feeling responsible, knowing what is needed to be done, being well prepared and proactive, bound with time and manners and not overestimating your capabilities means that you are on the right track to be professional in your career.

  • Thanks for the tips… it sure will help lots of new photographers like me… 😀

  • Owin Thomas

    Overall a good article on professionalism.

    I have a point on your point 3 … To say “The kid had the gift of the gab …” and “He seduced me into using his services” surely says something about your professionalism towards YOUR client. You mean to say you would use a photographer who you do not know, without knowing their capabilities or seeing their portfolio, or any references?

    Surely,with all repspect, apart from “the kid’s”, it was also YOUR mistake.

  • Stephen Hurlbut

    Michael I like your point about naming files. It is a bit of extra time, but I think it makes a huge difference if you were working with doing a whole lot of individual portraits. It may take a little extra time to write down each persons name and then transferring it in the file names, but that would make a huge difference. I’m working on a church directory and I have done such work with it.

    As for the article, I think a lot of good points were made. I couldn’t help but feel the annoyed designer talking though… None the less I think the advice is certainly good. Some things I thought of with my current job that my coworkers have done that I can’t stand: being late, having attitudes, piercings, and then there are those who just take crappy photos…

    Fortunately for us most of our equipment is all ready for us, yet then I thought about the things I sometimes forget to restock…

    I liked the ‘Not Asking Questions’ point. I photograph at schools, and we do need to make an effort to make sure what we notice is how it should be. Obviously, with the snot wad it was certainly common sense but when in real doubt have a mirror handy and some tissues. Mainly the thing is don’t be afraid to ask/suggest.

  • I just found this funny…

    Item two is basically “Understating your abilities [is bad].” Then in the third item, “under promise, over deliver.”

    Yeah.

  • Thanks for the article. I’m a web designer and photographer myself, and it’s really interesting to hear about photographers from a web designer’s point of view. Tip #7 is always nice. I have a “to pack” list for vacations, an ever-changing grocery list, and more. Once I start doing more model shoots, my “lighting gear” list will grow to more than one item as well 🙂

  • @ Stephen Hurlbut Says:
    Some things I thought of with my current job that my coworkers have done that I can’t stand: being late, having attitudes, piercings, and then there are those who just take crappy photos…

    You actually said piercings, OH MY GOD! next you are going to say people with tatoos can’t vote.

    Why do you care about what people wear? You probably have a ring in your hand and your mother has earings, IT’S THE SAME DAMN THING! It’s an accesory, nothing more…

    ———————————————————-

    @ Ramsay Taplin :
    You can’t expect a photographer to name each shot with description, they should be batched and numbered.
    The photos on that landscaping website are mostly crappy.

    But mostly the advice is good.

  • Laura

    Thanks for these tips. I’m a newbie starting to build my portfolio. While my character and personality would prevent me from making most of these errors, it’s a good reminder to beware and pay attention to oneself.

  • Great article and excellent advice. Like everything else, attitude’s everything. You can have all the talent in the world but if you lack the right attitude, the rest is forgettable.

  • doni

    its great to see this article, however i disagree with the first point. do you want painters, or artists dressed up in tuxedo to meet a businessman? let them be what they wanna be. in the end, the businessmen who need them, not the creative ones 😀

  • Alexander

    how important it is to look professional when you are performing a professional service

    Please accept my apologies for what I’m going to say.

    Who gives a shit how photographer looks like as long as he/she does his/her job? I could go on forever but you should’ve got basic idea already.

    I’ve seen so many non-senses that “established” photographers proclaim. I understand that this is what makes them usefull or in other words pays their bills.

    Sincerely yours
    Alexander

  • ben

    >Who gives a shit how photographer looks like as long as he/she does his/her job?

    The client does. Who wants a joker in short and flip flops at a formal event?

  • great article. thanks for sharing.
    ???? ????

Some Older Comments

  • ben June 23, 2009 02:24 am

    >Who gives a shit how photographer looks like as long as he/she does his/her job?

    The client does. Who wants a joker in short and flip flops at a formal event?

  • Alexander June 22, 2009 02:49 pm

    how important it is to look professional when you are performing a professional service

    Please accept my apologies for what I'm going to say.

    Who gives a shit how photographer looks like as long as he/she does his/her job? I could go on forever but you should've got basic idea already.

    I've seen so many non-senses that "established" photographers proclaim. I understand that this is what makes them usefull or in other words pays their bills.

    Sincerely yours
    Alexander

  • doni May 8, 2009 01:42 pm

    its great to see this article, however i disagree with the first point. do you want painters, or artists dressed up in tuxedo to meet a businessman? let them be what they wanna be. in the end, the businessmen who need them, not the creative ones :D

  • MeiTeng April 18, 2009 01:32 pm

    Great article and excellent advice. Like everything else, attitude's everything. You can have all the talent in the world but if you lack the right attitude, the rest is forgettable.

  • Laura January 25, 2009 04:44 am

    Thanks for these tips. I'm a newbie starting to build my portfolio. While my character and personality would prevent me from making most of these errors, it's a good reminder to beware and pay attention to oneself.

  • d4n131m3j14 January 8, 2009 05:14 pm

    @ Stephen Hurlbut Says:
    Some things I thought of with my current job that my coworkers have done that I can’t stand: being late, having attitudes, piercings, and then there are those who just take crappy photos…

    You actually said piercings, OH MY GOD! next you are going to say people with tatoos can't vote.

    Why do you care about what people wear? You probably have a ring in your hand and your mother has earings, IT'S THE SAME DAMN THING! It's an accesory, nothing more...

    ----------------------------------------------------------

    @ Ramsay Taplin :
    You can't expect a photographer to name each shot with description, they should be batched and numbered.
    The photos on that landscaping website are mostly crappy.

    But mostly the advice is good.

  • Kyle January 2, 2009 03:45 pm

    Thanks for the article. I'm a web designer and photographer myself, and it's really interesting to hear about photographers from a web designer's point of view. Tip #7 is always nice. I have a "to pack" list for vacations, an ever-changing grocery list, and more. Once I start doing more model shoots, my "lighting gear" list will grow to more than one item as well :)

  • Erik J. Barzeski January 2, 2009 08:48 am

    I just found this funny...

    Item two is basically "Understating your abilities [is bad]." Then in the third item, "under promise, over deliver."

    Yeah.

  • Stephen Hurlbut January 1, 2009 09:16 am

    Michael I like your point about naming files. It is a bit of extra time, but I think it makes a huge difference if you were working with doing a whole lot of individual portraits. It may take a little extra time to write down each persons name and then transferring it in the file names, but that would make a huge difference. I'm working on a church directory and I have done such work with it.

    As for the article, I think a lot of good points were made. I couldn't help but feel the annoyed designer talking though... None the less I think the advice is certainly good. Some things I thought of with my current job that my coworkers have done that I can't stand: being late, having attitudes, piercings, and then there are those who just take crappy photos...

    Fortunately for us most of our equipment is all ready for us, yet then I thought about the things I sometimes forget to restock...

    I liked the 'Not Asking Questions' point. I photograph at schools, and we do need to make an effort to make sure what we notice is how it should be. Obviously, with the snot wad it was certainly common sense but when in real doubt have a mirror handy and some tissues. Mainly the thing is don't be afraid to ask/suggest.

  • Owin Thomas January 1, 2009 02:02 am

    Overall a good article on professionalism.

    I have a point on your point 3 ... To say "The kid had the gift of the gab ..." and "He seduced me into using his services" surely says something about your professionalism towards YOUR client. You mean to say you would use a photographer who you do not know, without knowing their capabilities or seeing their portfolio, or any references?

    Surely,with all repspect, apart from "the kid's", it was also YOUR mistake.

  • swordie December 31, 2008 03:23 pm

    Thanks for the tips... it sure will help lots of new photographers like me... :D

  • Sherine December 31, 2008 02:11 pm

    Thank you. This is a very good advice article for whoever wants to be a professional photographer; feeling responsible, knowing what is needed to be done, being well prepared and proactive, bound with time and manners and not overestimating your capabilities means that you are on the right track to be professional in your career.

  • ben December 31, 2008 12:27 pm

    @michael, I may have misinterpreted your intent, but you did write "An 800 pixel by 600 pixel image is enormous by web page standards." Also, I prefer to let my camera shoot at its native resolution in raw and leave the downsampling until after it is downloaded to the computer. A decent computer and Photoshop / Lightroom is a much better for resizing images than the tiny processor in the camera.

  • michael December 31, 2008 06:55 am

    Ben said "I would be pissed if a photographer I hired delivered all of his pictures at 800x600"

    Perhaps you didn't read my comment carefully, Ben. I suggested a resolution twice that.

    It's all about communication. Any assumption you make as a photographer could be wrong. If you have a job to shoot photos for a web site, both you and the web designer will be happier if you talk first.

    When I shoot for web pages I'll use two cameras. One with the image size set for 3 MP and one at maximum. For me that's 12 MP. Yes, it's a pain. Clients often want images for print as well as web. If they don't at the time of shooting, many do later. Having an extra set of photos that you can sell is not a bad idea.

    A reasonable alternative is to offer the web person a disk with both high and medium resolution images. If you do the conversion yourself, you're more likely to see optimum results. It's not just the designer who has a reputation to consider. A good web site with your photos is a great portfolio builder.

    And, if you compare the detail on a 10 MP photo, downsized to fit on a web page with that of a 2 or 3 MP photo, you'll see that the less you have to downsize an image the sharper it is.

  • michael December 31, 2008 04:53 am

    JerBer says "Sounds like Michael wants photographers to do all his grunt work".

    I've worked both as a web designer and photographer. I may have overstated the extent to which photographers need to name images. Some of the naming has to do with search engine optimization and is legitimately the web designer's job.

    That said, if you create extra work for the designer, I'll guarantee that you won't get referrals or contracts from that designer. If you are doing photography as a living that should mean something to you. The design firm I worked for averaged 2 or 3 referrals out to photographers a month. The ones we recommended were the ones easy to work with. There are a lot of skilled picture takers around. There are many fewer actual *professional* photographers.

    Making your photos easy to work with is your job as a pro. Sending a CD of photos with camera generated file names doesn't cut it, especially if you've shot multiple sessions and your camera starts numbering each session over. That can easily lead to multiple photos with the same file name. They may be in different folders but they're still hard to sort out.

    It's straightforward for you, the photographer to batch title and/or date related shots. That's a step that I consider the minimum professional attention to detail. It helps the client, who probably doesn’t understand EXIF data, organize photos. It helps the web designer, who will probably be working directly from a CD and won't, without using something like Bridge, have access to EXIF data. And in archiving your photos it is possible to lose your EXIF data during transfer. It's not common but does happen. Good file naming conventions can save your bacon.

    And as to naming photos with only numbers or letters, that's not just a web server issue but an operating system one. Photoshop on Macs, which 80% of professional design shops with more than 2 people use, can't always deal with some Windows file names. I'm talking actual pro web designers here, not just someone with a copy of Dreamweaver and a good sales pitch.

    Running a batch operation on a couple hundred photos, only to find that some were skipped because of their file names is a pain. Being professional includes simple consideration of your client's needs. That also pertains to other professionals your client needs to work with.

  • sk66 December 31, 2008 02:56 am

    Having worked both sides of this issue as both a web designer and as a photographer the one addition I would like to make goes to the "ask questions" part.

    It is to "communicate". As noted, a proposed web design has probably been "storyboarded" and is proceeding with the approved design. The Web designer must share the overall design layout and prototype pages with the photographer, and if not, the photographer should ask to see it.
    Pictures similar to the desired results in overall look and feel would be great reference for the photographer.
    If you tell me you want a "classic/elegant" image....well that really only means whatever "I", as the photographer, interpret "classic/elegant" to be.
    Designers and Photographers both tend to be very visually oriented and "pictures" communicate well for them. If I do not TRULY understand the goal; I may very well fail to deliver even if I am quite capable.

    There are many other particulars to be worked out...file size, format, post, etc. That will vary by client (and pricing) and can't really be simplified in a single post.

  • ben December 31, 2008 01:23 am

    @michael, deliver what your clients request.

    I would be pissed if a photographer I hired delivered all of his pictures at 800x600. I want them delivered as large as possible, so I can crop them to my liking.

  • JerBear December 30, 2008 07:33 pm

    Sounds like Michael wants photographers to do all his grunt work..... A descriptive title on all his photos...Let HIM do it. You want less than 800x600 pixels sent, yet you want the highest quality available for optimizing, sounds like you do not have a grasp of digital photography.

    I could go on, but is it me or are the posts here by the "Web designers" a little on the rude side? Maybe if they would get off their high horse and work with their pro photographers, they would not be so constipated.

    Think about it.....

    JM

  • michael December 30, 2008 05:27 pm

    You've touched on the professionalism part of the relationship between a photographer and web designer. I'd just like to add a few technical points.

    First send your web designer appropriately sized files. That 14 megapixel beauty that you love is worthless for a web page. If you had taken it at 1600 X 1200 pixel resolution, it would lose a lot less detail in the mandatory resizing it will need to fit on a web page. An 800 pixel by 600 pixel image is enormous by web page standards.

    Next, name all your images with descriptive titles. That way when discussing an image it will be easy for the two of you to get the same picture in front of you. Don't use commas, apostrophes, pound signs or other non-letter or number symbols in your names. Some web servers will choke on them. If you really want to be nice to your web designer leave no spaces in the file names. Use hyphens or underscores to separate the names.

    For example red-ford-ranger-front-view.jpg is good. big_leaf_maple_closeup.jpg is fine too. Dr. Brown #1.jpg is not. It has spaces an extra period and a pound sign, all of which can be messy when dealing with web servers. Dr-Brown-1.jpg would be much better. I don't know about Windows but there are a couple of Mac programs for renaming files as well as Applescripts that come with the Mac that do the same thing. I assume that there are even more Windows equivalents.

    Include a contact sheet or Photoshop generated web gallery on the image CD or USB drive. That will greatly facilitate communication with you the web designer and the end client. I once got 700 images from a hospital, all with the original camera file names/numbers. The publicity director would then refer to the picture of Doctor Brown. I had no idea what Dr. B looked like and wasn't willing to find the time to find out. The hospital paid me an extra couple of hours making the contact sheets that the staff then had to use to indicate which image ended up on which page. The photographer should have supplied that in the first place.

    And finally, make da-n sure that you send quality images in digital format TIFF JPEG and PSD all work PNG's that have been processed with Fireworks do too. Don't expect a web designer to be happy with raw format or DNG files. Process them yourself into high quality JPGs if TIFFs. Send all JPGs at highest quality setting. Don't try to do the web designers job of optimizing the images. If they need any more editing, the designer will want the best possible image. Let her or him do the final optimization. That can be done in batches, so it's not a problem.

    I've gotten some junk from photographers who knew better. I've also gotten prints that I had to scan. I not only had to scan the images, remember that all scanned images need retouching. That client was not really happy with the extra three hours that added to his bill.

  • Brix December 30, 2008 04:59 pm

    "This tip comes not so much from my web design business, but from a wedding I attended last weekend. The photographer was a very talented man but he was grumpy as all hell. He spent the whole time yelling at people to get in the right position and almost made one of the bridesmaids cry!"

    This is so true... I've encountered such a photographer once and I believe that's so unprofessional.

  • Understanding White Balance In Photography December 30, 2008 04:29 pm

    i'm a web developer and if i could afford a photographer i'm sure i'd expect them to be as professional as i am. otherwise there is always the stock image library, which is great for us cheapskates :)

  • ben December 30, 2008 01:55 pm

    There seems to be a cut and paste error in the gallery (http://gardenworkslandscaping.com.au/gallery.html). The last two thumbnails on the bottom row leads to the same as the last two thumbnails on the top row.

    gallery4.PNG -> 41.JPG
    gallery5.PNG -> 23.JPG

    gallery9.jpg -> 41.JPG
    gallery10.jpg -> 23.JPG









  • Odyn December 30, 2008 10:53 am

    "It’s all great advice, but it seems like you can replace “photographer” with pretty much any profession and “Web Designer” with pretty much any job. "
    Yea, for example you can replace it with "Web designer" and "designer's client" ;)

  • Alain Pilon December 30, 2008 08:44 am

    Nothing revolutionary here. These advices could be used for field... It is called being professional.

    One point I would add is to ask the designer who would be doing the editing so the same task would not be done two times...

  • Boston Digital Imaging December 30, 2008 08:13 am

    Some great suggestions for anyone trying to pursue a career in photography. Even though the job itself may be slightly "un-conventional" it is still important to remember proper business etiquette and that this is in fact a job.

    -Timothy

  • JerBear December 30, 2008 08:10 am

    All in All, great tips and any amateur photographer aspiring to go professional would do good to follow them. Those that want to be called pros, should already know them.

    I brought this up with my crew and we had a very lively discussion on the points that you brought up. One thing that stood out above all, was the fact that “young” photographers were always being commissioned for the shoot. Why was that? Could it be because the Pro’s were too expensive?

    I can not tell you how many times we are called out to complete an assignment because the client thought they could get away with someone starting out. I’ll ask them why they did not call us first and usually they answer because we cost too much. Now, they have to face their clients with the need to do a re-shoot and all the hassles that come with that AND they still end up paying for a professional to complete the job

    Looking professional at a shoot will command respect, your dress, manners, conduct and attitude will make your assignment go much smoother. That being said, those commissioning photographers should “verify” the attire expected for the assignment.

    Do not accept an assignment beyond your capabilities. Clients are not paying for you to learn on the job. Clients (web designers, etc.) should not commission anyone without seeing a portfolio of the photographers work and an interview. Clients should also be clear and discuss what it is that they are looking for. Client and Pro should have a plan of action before the assignment even starts. Pro should also make clear if what the client wants is not really going to work.

    Turn around time is something that cuts both ways. I know a lot of photographers that take their sweet time in delivering the files, don’t know why, but for the life of me, I don’t get it. We schedule our assignments as soon as we can, shoot it, post process and then deliver the files. Only then do I run their credit card through billing.
    On the other hand, Clients ALWAYS want their files yesterday; they do not realize that there is always post production work needed to finish the job correctly. We do let them know ahead of time what the turn around will be, if they need it sooner, then we factor that in to the price.

    Just a thought

    JM

  • Shaman December 30, 2008 07:29 am

    Awesome info! I am also a web designer and have started taking photos for my customers. Great advice, thanks

  • themisfit December 30, 2008 07:05 am

    What Pat said!

  • Bryan Williams December 30, 2008 05:49 am

    I have to say I was disappointed with this article. It's all great advice, but it seems like you can replace "photographer" with pretty much any profession and "Web Designer" with pretty much any job.

    I was hoping to get some insight or advice specifically for working in photography for the web. There really isn't any in this article.

  • Matt December 30, 2008 05:17 am

    Where can a photographer bid or find web designers that would be interested in doing some work? I'm near Chicago and have shot professionally before with some published work.

    Thanks!
    -Matt

  • Pat December 30, 2008 05:08 am

    Great advice that extends far beyond working for web designers ;-)

    What you describe here should be common sense and certainly not expected from any professional person.

  • rhermans December 30, 2008 05:01 am

    Really like the article, and you can easily replace the photographing part by a dozen or more other professions.

    It's a perfect guideline for what a professional is or should be.

  • Chet December 30, 2008 03:27 am

    Great read. One of the reasons I decided to take my photography more seriously is because I needed pictures for the sites I was making.

    Now I prefer making pictures more than building sites and I read this from a photographers perspective. Wow, I feel so encouraged!

    I've always tried to convince people of the importance of good photos on their site, but many don't want to pay for it.

    It's encouraging to hear about good designers who are concerned about obtaining good photos for their designs.

  • Rosh December 30, 2008 03:14 am

    90% of success really is showing up and doing what you say your going to do.

    Understanding the needs and specs of web site designers is in an important topic. It is the future of the photography business.

    Also helping web designers educate their clients on the advantages of good custom photography is very important.

    Many designers are tired of using the same ol' stock and looks. In this competitive world clients need to understand that good enough is not good enough anymore. Poor photography will earn the company poor results.

    Web design companies are the new advertising agencies for photographers.

    Rosh

  • Michael Warf December 30, 2008 02:20 am

    I can't agree more with the "manners" part. I work weddings and feel that people that excel in my niche aren't necessarily rockstar photographers - its the poeple skills that allow them to rise above (word of mouth increases with a quality experience, more bookings means more shooting, more shooting means better technical skills - its all connected).

  • TheOm3ga December 30, 2008 01:32 am

    Really interesting and enriching article. I think the most important point is the third one because if the photog'r fails in any of the other points, you'll still have some photos, maybe good or bad but surely usable ones at least. But if you fail in point 3... man, you screwed it up.

    I think the best way of thanking you for this article is giving you some tips too, but in the web design area.
    On the one hand, you really should get rid of the PNG for photographs, for instance this: http://taplinwebdesign.com.au/images/pitch.PNG in your main website. Almost 300KiB for a 790x248px image is just ridiculous. You should use JPG instead.

    You said that the photographer for the Garden Works website was great and you hired her for other jobs too... You should think about it again: this photograph http://gardenworkslandscaping.com.au/images/42.JPG is REALLY overexposed, as well as other ones.

    Please don't take it as a criticism but as a piece of advice. Thanks for the article.

  • Digitize Negative December 30, 2008 01:05 am

    Great article, thanks Ramsay. I think i can summerize it:
    Be prepared! :-)

  • oldwolf December 30, 2008 01:02 am

    Great tips. I'm glad someone posted these. I've noticed a few starting photographers make these mistakes and it irritates me that they are giving the rest of us a bad name.

    Not all photographers are that flaky hehe.

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