We interviewed Jottful Community member and New York-based photographer, William Lulow, for his tips on how small business owners can get quality photographs for their website and other marketing materials — without breaking the bank. 

small business photography, website photos

Thanks, William, for sharing this advice with our audience of small business owners. So, let’s start at the top with a common question we hear: why should a small business owner pay for photographs when they could just do it themselves or have a friend do it?

Digital photography and equipment has made taking photographs quite a bit simpler than ever, but, when you need images for your website, brochures, catalogs, or advertisements, “simpler” can often mean “of lesser quality.”

Do you or your friend have the right expertise or, in many cases, the right equipment?

Knowing how to use a camera is not enough; you also have to know about lighting, which, in most cases, is more important than the camera you use.

Suppose you need a portrait for your website. You can save yourself some money by having a friend take the picture with an iPhone. But, you can’t really control the lighting with an iPhone.

Sure, but small business owners need to be practical. What is “good enough” for a website?

Remember that good portraits, for example, entail much more than just snapping a shutter and recording an image. Portraits that really communicate a message about someone, or what they’re selling is a much more complicated procedure. It’s much more than a simple “capture” of someone’s likeness.

You’ve spent good money and time on a decent website, why would you settle for an okay image just to save a few dollars?

When you try to cut corners on certain expenses, it usually translates to lost revenue down the road. You often have to spend more to correct a bad photograph than you would have spent getting the best one from the beginning. There are certain things for which it pays to spend money and photography is one of them. After all, you’re spending money on your image!

Okay, so what’s the most economical way to get professional photographs?

Photographic services are best bought by the day. Most photographers have a “day rate.” It’s the fee they charge for their time and expertise for an eight-hour work day. There are additional charges for such things as: transportation, digital processing, prints, assistants, makeup artists, hair stylists, special backgrounds, etc. But if you have quite a few shots to do, a good, professional photographer will be able to tell you how long it will take him or her to shoot all the images.

I have often photographed twenty or more executives during the course of a normal workday. This translates into huge savings for the company as opposed to them sending me one person at a time. The most expensive part of a photographic project is the expert’s time! 

It normally takes the most time to do the first shot. If all other shots can be done with the same basic setup, you wind up saving money.

Every time the client needs a new lighting setup, it takes extra time to set it up. And that’s what costs money.

What can I do to keep the costs down for the photo shoot?

Have all your people or products set up and ready to go before you hire the photographer.

It will help you determine which items you need to shoot and help the photographer decide on how much time it will take. This is the way to get the most bang for your buck when buying photographic services.