Lately, most of my time has been spent shooting residential interiors and design, which means meeting new and potential clients. Whether I am in a meeting or portfolio showing, at a design show or making cold calls to potential clients, I try and always find out if a designer has worked with a professional photographer in the past, and if so, what went wrong. As I meet more and more talented designers letting their projects go un-photographed, I’m receiving the same handful of answers. Here are the top 5 reasons I have been given for not hiring a professional architectural or interiors photographer.
1. "The cost of professional photography is just too high."
This is hands-down the biggest reason I hear, and I completely understand why. The way most professional commercial photography is priced makes it very difficult for a small design firm to take advantage of that resource. Let's face it, most interior designers are not working with million dollar budgets. So how can a one or two person firm afford to spend hundreds of dollars up front every time they finish a project, especially when most projects might only be a one room remodel and not an entire home?
Short of constantly parading people through clients’ homes, photographs are the only way potential clients will be able to view a designer’s finished projects. And if a project does not get photographed, a designer might miss out on the potential business that those images could have attracted. Now that photography cost doesn't seem so high when you frame it as a marketing cost, but it still doesn't change the fact that it can be difficult to afford in the short term.
With Arris Photography, I’m trying to change the way interior designers are able to pay for and invest in professional interior photography by seeking to grow a designer's portfolio over a career, not just a single project. Through the use of tools such as custom pricing that focuses on getting you only the images you actually need or cost sharing agreements that allow you to reduce the cost of each shoot, I strive to make photography affordable in the short term, without the pressure of cost distracting them from the long term benefits of professional photography.
2. "I don't have the energy to make sure the photographer capture's my designs correctly."
Negotiating the cost and parameters of shoot, scheduling between the homeowner and photographer, purchasing accessories, and then the shoot itself... Professional interior photography can be a lot of work; however, the more effort you put in, the better the resulting images are. But you shouldn't have to worry about choosing which angle of a kitchen works best for the camera. You shouldn't have to worry about making sure there is no glare on the counter you spent months searching for and having shipped in from Italy. You shouldn't be thinking about how the paint colors are going to translate on a computer screen. I have heard countless stories about designers hiring a photographer, then also being responsible for making sure the right photo is taken, just to be disappointed by the poor results.
A photographer should not be hired just to press the camera shutter. Your relationship with a photographer should be one of positive collaboration. You should be hiring a photographer for their talent, for their creative eye for composition, for their ability to display colors accurately. I want a designer to make a space that they are proud of and excited about. Then I take that space and translate it into a photograph that I feel will capture the attention of viewers and potential customers. Both the designer and I have skills and creative vision, and together we can create something wonderful. And I must say, the longer I work with clients, the better we understand each other to the point where most designers don’t feel the need to be present at every shoot. They come to trust that I can consistently deliver, giving them one less thing to worry about.
3. "Professional photography takes too long, I simply don't have the time."
This one I have some difficulty understanding. I photograph interior projects that have taken anywhere from two months to two years to design and build. That is two months or more of time and energy, effort and care, pressure and production. One more day is too long…?
I understand that we live in a very fast paced society, and things are constantly moving. But if you don't take one day out of your schedule to properly document the last two+ months of your hard work, you have nothing to show for it, and you miss out of the opportunity to show that off to the world. You won't get business from impressive images on your website or marketing materials. You won't be published in any quality magazine. Now all you are relying on for marketing is word-of-mouth, customer referrals. Don't get me wrong, that is very important. But there is so much more you can do! The potential is so great! If you just take the time to create great images and not just settle for a picture.
4. "I don't need to. I have a friend or family member that enjoys taking pictures."
Well this post is not going to be about hiring a professional over an amateur, we'll save that discussion for another time. But the bottom line is you are a talented professional running a business with your heart and soul. You might have one chance to get into a home after you complete a project. Do you want someone who has experience, talent, knows what to do and will create the best possible images of your work? Or do you want your friend or family member just to take a few snapshots and go out for lunch after. What do you want to achieve with the images, and what are your goals? Make the best decision for your business.
5. "I haven't hired a photographer in the past, why start now?"
You might have been working 10 years, 15 years, even 20 years or more and never have professionally photographed a project. So why do you need to do it now? I believe growth is important in business, learning new things, adapting to change in a more competitive industry and finding ways to stay current. This is especially true with the present-day state of social media in which, given the right circumstances, you can catch lightning in a bottle and gain (inter)national attention with just a single image!
Try looking back at your years of completed work, and the quick snapshots you took of them. Do any pictures make you say, “I wish the light was just a little bit better here.” or, “I wish I had a higher quality version of this so I could make a large print.” Well, good news is that it's never too late to make a change, especially when it can become such an asset to your business.
To learn more about how Arris Photography can help grow your interior design business, and make professional photography a more affordable investment, send me an email or call.