Q - What do you do... other than take photos?
A - This is a really good question. A lot of people think professional photographers take photos all the time. In a way we do, but a lot of time is spent talking to clients about a project, getting the details of a project then spending a lot of time creatively thinking.
I think about the scope of the project, where I feel we should shoot, who do I want with me crew wise, how am I going to shoot the images (sometimes clients will ask for really challenging photos) what are the logistical issues, time of the year issues (Does the client want a tropical feel and we are shooting in January?) what gear should I bring? How many and what kind of crew do I need?
I do a lot of thinking about what I call the "Mechanical Aspects" of the job: When, who, what, where, why. On all of my major projects, I will give my producer the parameters of the project and then they will deal with the mechanical aspects of the job: Hotel rooms, airline tickets, rental cars/SUVs, mini or full sized vans, big trucks, caterer, transfers, local drivers for the vehicles, ID the closest hospital(s), local assistants, local styling crew etc.
I also think about the creative. The creative may be making suggestions to the client about locations, make up or hair ideas, wardrobe ideas, unless it is a fashion shoot, props to bring etc. In the estimation process all of these come together so I can then give the client a price and make a statement about my vision and the creative way to shoot their project.
Creativity is a big part of what I bring to the job, and this can be spontaneous on location during the shoot and it can also be through creative thought at home, in the office, in the shower (one of the best places for me to think), driving etc. I have been in the middle of something unrelated to a project and an idea just shows up in my head for a different project, I go to that job's folder and open the "Ideas" file and add the idea. I then go back the original thing I was working on. This is an example of my ADD working to my advantage!
Q - How much do you charge for a photo shoot?
A-There is not a "One fits all" answer, this is like going to a car dealership and asking, "How much is a car". There are 2 parts of the cost, one is my creative fee which includes my time and the exercise of my creativity. The second part of the fee is how long you want to use the image(s), where they will be used (Magazine, newspaper, website, social media, posters etc.) how large they will be used and other uses.
I do not have a set fee as every job is unique. Some jobs are very easy to plan for, others may take a week of planning and preparation. Then take several days to shoot, travel and return. Then several days for the post production work.
The best answer I can give is through a conversation either by phone or e-mail. If you are a small business and have limited usage of the photos, then the price will be on the low end. If you are a major B2C client with worldwide offices and usage, the price will be considerably higher. Every advertising photographer I know of charges in this fashion.
SO: Time to shoot, how much creative effort put into the creation of the images and then the usage.
Q - How long does it take to get the photos from you?
A - This depends on the number of images and what you need done to them. Some projects I may only shoot 200 images, other projects have exceeded 10,000 for a client who wants a large library of images. Also it depends on your deadline. If you need some images immediately this may be possible if I send them to a professional retoucher or do them in house. The price will differ based on who does the work. But if you have an urgent need this needs to be addressed up front and made clear to me before I even estimate the job.
Q - Why do I want to hire you and not some other photographer?
A - I have 30+ years experience of shooting images. I have not stopped "Growing" as a photographer, meaning my style has evolved through the years. If you really like what I do, and my price and terms are agreeable to you, then you should hire me. A photographers style and the ability to solve problems is their value to clients. Style is a mix of how they see something, what do they want to include, or exclude in the image. The "finishing" of an image is also part of their style. To me "finishing" is not just retouching, but
applying treatments to the image as a whole or locally.
Q - I don't see what I am looking for on your website, do you have other photography I can look at?
A - The short answer is maybe. Feel free to contact me about your needs. If I do not shoot that type of imagery I will help you to find the perfect person for you to hire. I am not all things to all people... nor do not want to try. That's a fools errand.
Q - How long does it take to set up a shoot?
A-This depends on the nature of your question. If you are asking about pre production, which is the time spent working out the details of the shoot, thinking about how to best shoot the job, this is completely dependent on how many finished images you need, is there travel involved, do you need a styling crew, will I need an assistant(s), how many permits will I need to get etc.
Preparation can be as simple as my having a small bag of cameras all the way to bringing a lot of special gear, large numbers of crew and making travel plans. Typically for the majority of jobs there will be 1 to 3 days of prep. For the majority of my advertising projects, I will hire a producer so I can concentrate on thinking about the image(s) you need.
If you are asking how long it takes to set up one of the images you want from your "Shot List", this can be as short as 5 minutes to hours. I do not shoot from any "Formula" as every image is unique. There are exceptions to this. If I am shooting a fashion "lookbook", then this is shot very quickly and the light/scene may not change much, if at all, as the fashion client needs a lot of garments shot in one day to be cost effective.
Most of my jobs are for advertising and marketing and these require a lot of time to "Polish, Finesse or Complete" the look of the image. Another phrase you will hear is "Production Values". This means you, the client, need stunning or interesting image(s) and you understand it takes time to set the scene, set and adjust the light(s), position the talent, (Talent means the model(s), or in case of us shooting video, the actor(s)) then direct the talent, then shoot some test shots to make sure everything is in place and looks it's best. Then we start to shoot that look. Normally it takes longer to set up the look/scene than it takes to actually shoot the look/scene.
Q - What is your specialty?
A - In a word? People. Just about all of my advertising images will have at least one person in the image. Some of my "Personal Work" (These images or videos are something I just want to shoot and I am not being paid to create them) may not have people anywhere in the image. But my preference is creating imagery with people.
A more distilled answer is I have 2 areas of speciality.
The first is fashion & beauty as these are frequently lumped into one category. I add portraits to this group as they are along the same lines as a beauty image, but without as much make up and hair artistry, if any at all.
The second is lifestyle, which can cover a wide swath of imagery. All of these have people in the image.
As a fashion photographer I just love great wardrobe. It is very exciting for me to take a great model, have them in a wonderful outfit, on a cool location in great light with the work of my styling crew then direct the action while shooting.
Equally exciting is a beauty image, where we have a great face that has make up meticulously applied with a strong sense of design or style and hair to match in wonderful light.
Another is a portrait, where I am creating an image that can range from a simple "Look" to a strong and powerful using unusual position and dramatic light.
Lifestyle is also a lot of fun. Where we delve into an image showing a slice of life that is so well done it does not look staged or forced and is 110% believable.
Q - It looks like you have been shooting for a long time. Do you ever run out of ideas?
A - Not for me, creativity once used on a regular basis will continue to grow, and I have a huge passion for the art, and my work shows it.
So my question to you is: How can I help you today?
Or, what creative problem do you have that I may be able to help you solve?
If you would like to use this image, or any of my images for mock or comp use, please just ask. There is never a charge for this service. Educational use is permitted without charge, unless published, but please ask first. All commercial use is available only with a limited copyright release prior to use from the copyright holder, Steve Thornton. Thanks for looking!