11 March 2014

Corporate photography: the downside of DIY

There are two types of horror stories in the world of professional photography. There are those where a company chose a photographer based on low prices but ended up hiring someone else to re-do the job. There are those where the business decides it is cheaper to buy the equipment needed to do the job in-house.

Ellery Chua, Founder, Ellery Chua Photography, lists essential equipment:

1. Digital SLR camera
2. Two lenses, say a 24-70/2.8 and a 90mm macro  
3. Three studio strobes, 500W
4. Light modifiers for studio strobes
5. Media cards
6. Computer for editing and PhotoShop work, if not leveraging on an existing unit
7. PhotoShop
8. Editing software
9. Monitor calibrator
10. Training courses, excluding travel costs as some courses are only taught overseas
11. Hourly opportunity cost for an employee to attend the courses, say two weeks’ worth 

“If you tab up the figures, it can run in excess of S$15,000 just to get to get to starting gate. There is no promise that the results will be in the same ballpark area as what a business can get from a professional photographer,” Chua noted.

“What a professional brings to the table is the ability to listen to the client describe what he or she needs and find the way to deliver visuals in that direction as specified, plus additional images based on the professional’s understanding of what is wanted and what could be stronger visually than what the client has asked for,” Chua said.

“The professional also brings the ability to deliver the visuals despite unplanned issues for these can and will crop up. And this has to be done in a timely manner. It cannot take the years it took Michelangelo to paint the Sistine Chapel. Basically it is the ability to deliver what is needed, no ‘ifs’ and no ‘buts’. “Non-professionals may have problems even when things go smoothly. In times of problems, expect delays or worse, the sudden disappearance of the service provider.”

Julian Tay, Founder of Camera-CrewPhotography, agreed that there is more to professional photography than meets the eye. “Take recording an event, which many businesses consider as simple. Event photography actually requires some measure of experience and expertise on the part of the photographer. If the event is a ‘live’ happening then certain segments cannot be re-staged if the photographer misses the moment,” he cautioned.

“Experience is invaluable in situations such as these. Experienced photographers will look for positions that best show not just what is happening at the moment, but also tell the viewer what the event is about.
Source: Camera-Crew Photography. Copyright Camera-Crew Photography. All rights reserved.
“Professional photographers look out for angles that showcase the branding of the particular product or services being featured at the event. He or she should be quick to react with ideas whenever a photo opportunity, arises even though it was not in the script. He should be technically adept and always ready with the right equipment even though the lighting and other environmental factors at the event may be constantly changing,” Tay said.