We’ve given you insight before about how buyers hire photographers via assignment briefs, but what happens when the buyers reach out to you directly? If you haven’t had much interaction with clients, the conversation can be both exciting and tense. While there can be a lot of moving parts on both ends, you can do your part as a photographer to help things go smoothly.
We got in touch with Hong Kong-based photographer and ImageBrief Founding Premium Member, Stefan Irvine about a recent assignment he shot for a client after they found him through ImageBrief. Stefan also gives some great insight about what happens after you get contacted to shoot an assignment.
Can you explain the process of being hired on assignment for the shoot?
“I received an email from the client through ImageBrief’s platform, with a description of the project scope and a request for a quotation. I also received a short note from Ken Pao [Director of Photographers for ImageBrief] to check in with us both. As an ImageBrief Founding Premium photographer, I would be entitled to receive 100 percent of the assignment fees, and after the project was completed, all invoicing and payments would be handled via ImageBrief’s payment platform. After this initial introduction, the client and I discussed the project directly over email.”
Who was the client and what was your interaction like with them?
“The client was Christian Lahoude Studio, a New York-based architectural and design firm specializing in retail environments for luxury brands; in this case, they had just completed work on the latest Jimmy Choo store in Hong Kong. We had a few emails back and forth and we quickly reached an agreement which suited the client’s budget and schedule. Within a couple of days we had signed a contract and organized a shooting time with the staff at the Jimmy Choo store.”
How’d the negotiations go? Any advice to other photographers when negotiating price?
“In terms of advice to other photographers, I would say it’s quite important to set a day-rate for the various types of photography you’re doing—bearing in mind the client’s intended usage and your experience—and try to not to accept a fee too much lower than that rate. Luckily I didn’t have any such concerns with this particular client, but it can be a disheartening experience to invest all your energy and resources into a project for which you feel under-compensated. Also, remember to budget for the time you are going to spend in post-production!”
What made you stand out from other photographers for a shoot like this?
“I think it really helped that I had several samples of interior photography on my ImageBrief Portfolio. Hopefully the client would have felt confident that I could deliver the images they wanted based on my previous work. Also, I’m sure it helped that I’m actually based in Hong Kong!”
Can you take us through what the shoot was like? How’d your previous experience prepare you for it?
“The shoot was actually very smooth, thanks largely to the gorgeous interiors at the location! I had great support from the team at Jimmy Choo, although they couldn’t actually close the store for our shoot. So we decided to shoot most of the interiors when there would be the least customer traffic (first thing in the morning), and at other times I had to be a bit patient to work around the visitors browsing the store. We also had a minor issue with the building security when shooting the exterior facade with a tripod, but after some phone calls and polite negotiation, they were happy for me to complete the shot on condition that I finish as quickly as possible.”
“I guess my previous experience has taught me how to anticipate problems when shooting on location, and how you can plan for a solution in advance. In this case, I had made a visit to the site the day before the shoot, so that I could think about angles and timing the various shots on my shoot list, and so I could figure out how the position of the sun might affect the exterior shots of the facade.”
What will the client be using the photos for?
“They’ll be using the images in general promotional materials for the studio—mostly they will appear in editorial articles and on their website and social media etc. Generally, the assignment was a great opportunity and this client was a pleasure to deal with. Once the shoot was completed, the client actually decided to purchase two extra images in addition to the number we had agreed upon initially. The payments were processed by the client and by ImageBrief extremely quickly—a pleasant surprise, as this is not always the norm with every client!”
Do you think your location played a role in getting hired? What’s it like being in Hong Kong as a photographer?
“Absolutely. Assigning a locally-based photographer would have saved the client a lot in travel costs, and ImageBrief has been fantastic in this way—it can connect overseas photographers to potential clients and agencies globally that they would never normally have access to.”
“Living and working in Hong Kong is very rewarding. The city has an incredible energy and offers a lot of visual inspiration. There always seems to be something new to photograph. And people here are increasingly aware of their city’s heritage, both culturally and architecturally, which motivates me in my personal documentary and fine art projects.”