Shoot Share: 
Making professional photography financially viable for smaller businesses!

In brief….  I am delighted to enable clients to share the costs of a photoshoot: this is really applicable to architects/ interior designers and main contractors and can make a professional shoot much more affordable… please get in touch to find out more.

In detail….
Why professionally shot images matter:
We live in a visual world , where good visuals communicate so much and can make such a difference.

There is very little which puts out a more negative message about a company than a projects website gallery which is filled with wonky, unsharp handheld images, full of burned out highlights and blocked up shadows, and without the extensive retouching which architectural photography typically requires.  

Properly produced professional photography will enable you to post images to the web and social media with complete confidence that you are putting your “best foot forward”. As the saying goes; “You never get a second chance at a first impression” !

Not only that, you will also be able to submit images to magazine editors, confident in the knowledge that such images will appear sharp and readable when enlarged to perhaps a double page spread size, or when creating display prints for a trade show perhaps. And this extends to competition entry: often an organisation, frequently a magazine, will run an awards scheme on the understanding that submitted entry images will be used in their associated publications. No matter how jaw-dropping the subject, they need to be confident that images selected can handle such hard copy reproduction.

Professional photos should be a major aspect of any small company’s marketing budget. If the “currency” of your marketing is imagery, then that imagery needs to be as slick, and as elegant and as professionally executed as your own products or delivered projects themselves.

But what if the costs of a photoshoot really do stretch your already limited budget? Well thankfully there is a way to get access to professional and comprehensive photographic coverage of your project without it costing the earth… Interested? Then please read on….

How does it work? 
Suppose a project shoot fee is agreed at, for simplicity’s sake, £600 : that fee covers the shoot or "creative" fee and extends usage of the images to one client only. That usage may be limited further depending on the photographer’s usual licensing policy: so it may be confined to certain media (e.g. website and social media but not national billboard advertising) and issued for a limited time (e.g. renewed annually). For the record: my standard image licence enables clients to use images in all usual marketing and PR avenues and remains in place for the lifetime of the commissioning company, so there’s no need to renew. The key thing to note is that usage is limited to that one company only: it is standard practice among professional photographers to ensure that images are not shared with third parties without agreement. 

Now: suppose an architect or interior designer wants to commission a shoot, and they happen to know that the main contractor might also want to benefit from the imagery: it's common practice for a photographer to enable that additional company to “come in” on usage of the images, but for a small premium applied to the main fee: suppose this is 25% per additional user: what does that do to the maths?
Main shoot production fee with image usage licenced to one user: £600.00
Main shoot and two user licences: add 25% of fee : £150.00
Total shoot fee and two user licences: £750.00
“Hang on,” you think, “that’s more expensive!” .... BUT: assuming that the architect and the main contractor are going to share the photoshoot costs on an equal basis, the actual fee to each now becomes £375, representing a big reduction on the single user fee : £225.00 in fact: that’s a full 37.5% down !

How about if we add another supplier, like the joinery company? Running the maths again:
Main shoot production fee with image usage licenced to one user: £600.00
Main shoot and three user licences: add 50% of fee : £300.00
Total shoot fee and three user licences: £900.00
Cost to each user: £300.00 
This time the original client is looking at a full 50% reduction on the original fee, and each participating supplier is getting access to all the images from a comprehensive shoot for the price of a much shorter visit.
(Please note that production costs of the shoot such as props, travelling expenses and any hired-in items might be added to the total cost to be split between the participants, but it is only the actual shoot or “creative” fee which is subject to the percentage supplements).
OK: so I can hear people shouting at their screens now… ! What if the architect brings a project participant/ supplier on board, who feels that they have made a rather smaller contribution to the project: perhaps they just supplied the spiral wine cellar, or a conservatory, or some bespoke joinery, or a home cinema room. They may therefore baulk at paying an equal split of fees, as they feel that only a proportion of the images are immediately relevant to their input?
Well the first thing to suggest is that a) if they were to commission their own perhaps smaller half-day shoot, aside from perhaps putting the owners of the property to further inconvenience, it could possibly actually cost more than their share of the whole shoot fee! And one might ask b) wouldn’t it be more useful for them to have licensed usage of all images from the shoot so that a website case study, for example, can draw upon a few project image hero shots to place their input in some sort of context? This could be a build with a very impressive profile, and many elements: showing something of the scale of the project on a web gallery can be really useful for potential clients and even magazine editors to get a real feel for the extent of the project. For example, wouldn’t it perhaps be useful for the supplier of the bathroom tiles and fixtures to be able to show images of the master ensuite bedroom to which they relate? 

But if another supplier really does not feel that their participation warrants an equal split, some photographers (this one included!) will enable a split invoice based on an agreed division of the fee. This can still result in reduced costs for the other parties versus a single funded commission. 
What’s the catch?

Well all participants need to agree to take part in the agreement from the outset: this process does not enable “pick and mix-ing” of processed images after the event! Participants are agreeing to “sponsor” a shoot in advance as it were, and help reduce costs for all concerned as a result.
I will always do my best to communicate with all parties ahead of a shared  shoot to ensure that we address their specific image requirements as far as possible. 
Licensing images after the shoot
What if a supplier really does not want to come in on a shoot share at the time of commissioning but expresses an interest in images from a shoot retrospectively? Well it’s important to note that this participant has not taken on any of the speculative “risk” of commissioning a shoot before seeing the results, and can get to choose as many or as few images as they require. As a result, it is not unreasonable to request a much higher effective per image rate than that paid by the sharers of the shoot. And if you have approached a photographer for usage of shoot images on this basis you may have appreciated what a premium can become payable on this basis: think at least 10% of the shoot fee per image (that’s right!). So we come back to the value to this client of getting on board from the beginning. 
Flexibility is the name of the game….

It is entirely up to my clients how they “divvy” up the costs among themselves: for example, the interior designer may provide a member of their team all day to assist with room preparation: while this ensures that they get to see the images being created on the day, they may feel that this input should be perhaps remunerated somehow. Or an architect may have travelled to the location and spent time on a detailed walkthrough with the photographer ahead of the shoot; they may rightly feel a little more invested in the process than a supplier for example. So in such cases, some flexibility as to how fees are split needs to be considered and, as mentioned, I am always happy to issue split invoices based on the agreed share. 
Not for everyone...
But a couple of provisos should be mentioned here: 
There is one class of supplier/participant which it is perhaps harder to incorporate into such a costs-sharing scheme, and that can be the garden designer/ landscaper. Garden photography is a genre all its own: it is highly dependent on correct light and often involves some very early starts! My feeling is that a photographer really needs to apply themselves almost exclusively to this aspect of a project, and it is one area where main suppliers for a build are really not so interested in receiving anything other than establishing images created. There are exceptions of course, but sometimes it is difficult to factor shoot time to cover the landscaping side of things. In addition, it is somehow less of an “ask”of the homeowners for another photography visit to be made to cover the exterior spaces, than continual revisits to shoot the kitchen, the staircase, the furniture etc!  
The other point to note is that there are some cases where a client perhaps understandably wants to invest in a shoot which is totally geared to their brief, which they can attend solo and be assured that the resulting images are exclusively reflective of their input: perhaps a designer has carefully sourced and installed bespoke artworks in a home, or an artist has been commissioned to paint a mural for a commercial space. Or a kitchen designer is attending the shoot with props etc and wants to ensure that the shoot is all about that area.

It’s no problem of course to undertake such shorter and rather more focused shoots: see some examples>>>  The shoot share scheme is really confined to architects/ interior designers and project suppliers who will likely benefit from a comprehensive, if more general, image set. 
Keeping tabs on how your project is represented...
One final thing to consider: a big benefit of the shoot share approach is that all images of the project which appear anywhere, online or in print, are fully professional: this is why it’s good to get contractors on board so that projects are presented in their best light, without being displayed on social media feeds via camera phone grab-shots. In this way your project is consistently and professionally presented across the board. Shoot sharing will make this possible.

So there you have it : the shoot share approach to professional photography is one that I have offered and implemented with great success over the years, and which has enabled more smaller businesses to access the marketing images which their work deserves!

Call me, Simon, today to see how we can make your photoshoot more affordable….
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