When you first start looking around for equine photographers, you will find there are a lot of them out there. However, there are some critical questions to ask a horse photographer BEFORE you hire them.
And while there is a photographer out there for every budget, every style, and every photography experience, it’s important that you get answers to these critical questions before you book. Otherwise, you might end up unpleasantly surprised during the process.
This is Part 2 of a two-part blog post about the 16 Critical Questions to ask a horse photographer before you book them. Read Questions to Ask a Horse Photographer Before You Book Part One here.
What happens if there is bad weather, or my horse is ill or injured?
First, a lot of this information is – or should be – covered in your contract. If your photographer has been in business for any length of time, they are probably familiar with the common weather patterns of the area and try to have a plan in place just in case weather is an issue.
Most likely, if they are a photographer who shoots outdoors much of the time, they will keep dates near your original date available for rescheduling due to weather.
Secondly, accidents happen when it comes to dealing with animals. Most photographers will be understanding about injuries and illness coming up – after all, you want your horse to look it’s best for his or her photos! Most photographers will have a policy in place to address this issue.
How long have you been in business and how much of that business has been photographing horses? Is photography your career or is it something you do on the side?
This is important because someone could have a lot of experience with photography but no idea how to work with animals. Animal photography is a different beast than say, studio newborn photography.
With studio newborn photography you are working with studio lighting, with props and backdrops, with a small infant. In horse photography, you are usually working outside in natural light with a 1200-pound beast with a mind of its own. This is not to say that horse photography is harder than newborn photography. This is just to say that these are both difficult but in different ways.
Additionally, someone who doesn’t understand horse confirmation will have a harder time ensuring that the horse is correctly positioned or not suffering from distorted issues. A photographer not familiar with horse behavior might also misinterpret behavior and place the client in a dangerous situation.
You don’t want a photographer who fears the animal and you don’t want a photographer who can’t read the signs that your horse is going to do something that might cause danger to a participant.
It is also important to know if your photographer is a full-time photographer or is it something that they do on the side. Not that there is anything wrong with either way but it’s important to know how a photographer who does do it as a sideline would handle a situation that comes up in their regular job and might cause delays or issues with the side gig. You would need to know how it might affect your session or your timeline for receiving your images.
This one kind of goes along with the question about if you shoot on location or in a studio. Knowing your photographer’s style means that you have a much better chance of not being disappointed by the end results.
If I am expecting studio style headshots with bright colored backgrounds, I’m going to be sorely disappointed if the photographer comes back with natural light headshots with lots of trees and grass in the background.
Also, many photographers develop a specific look to their images. Some photographers prefer a light and airy look, others like a dark and moody look. Make sure you know what you are going to be seeing before you book.
How many hours of coverage do I get during my session?
There are some photographers who show up at the start time, set a timer for one hour, and when that timer goes off, they are done.
There are other photographers who will show up and stay, stay, stay, long after they have gotten what they need.
Ask your photographer how they schedule their sessions: Do they schedule only one a day? Do they schedule them back-to-back? What happens if your horse acts up during your session? What happens if you are late for your session?
Are there restrictions for sharing the images online?
Each photographer is different when it comes to sharing online. Though the majority will probably say that you are only allowed to share without editing or altering the images.
After all, those images represent the artist/photographer and when you use an Instagram filter or crop their image, it alters the artwork. So, if you are all about Instagram filters, make sure to ask what you are and aren’t allowed to do online.
Who owns the copyright?
Copyright, copyright, copyright. This is a subject that confuses so many people.
According to the Professional Photographers of America, “The Copyright Act protects photographers by giving the creator of the photograph the exclusive rights to copy, edit and distribute the image by sale or transfer. These exclusive rights make it illegal to copy, scan, edit or share photographic prints and digital media without the photographer’s permission. Violators of this Federal Law will be subject to its civil and criminal penalties.”
So, what does that mean to you? It means that from the moment the photographer clicks the shutter, that artwork belongs to them unless they sign that right away.
It also means that the photographer is the only person who can alter that work. Since the photographer’s name is associated with the image, they want – and should – have complete control over what that end product looks like.
In truth, when many people talk about wanting the copyright, what they are actually wanting is a print release. Photographers vary on what they allow and don’t allow when it comes to print releases. Print releases give individuals permission to reproduce images for their own personal use. The key to this is that a print release only allows for personal use.
So, while a print release allows you to print an image to hang on your wall, it does not allow you to take that image and submit it to a magazine or a contest. You can’t use the images for commercial gain, claim them as your own work, or edit or alter them in any way.
Will the images be retouched or edited before I see them?
Once again, this varies photographer by photographer.
Some photographers will cull the images, edit and touch up everything before you ever see the images.
Some photographers will cull the images and then will edit one or two to give you an idea of what the finished product will look like but will only edit after you make your image selections.
And still other photographers will show you images straight out of the camera and not edit anything until you have made your selections.
Many times, the way the photographer handles this is based on the time involved. Editing and retouching can be a time suck depending on the photographer’s style and process.
Be sure to know what you are getting in advance, so you aren’t surprised by what you see.
When can I see photos and how do I see them? How long to get finished products?
This question sort of goes along with a previous question about finished products. Each photographer is different. Some photographers use online galleries for you to view your images.
Other photographers meet with you in person and go through your images with you, and work with you to help you to decide what image is going to look best for the end products you want. It really comes down to what type of experience you wish to have with your photographer.
When it comes to getting end products, the time will also vary. For example, if you are getting digital files with a print release, those can easily be downloaded from an online gallery or given in a thumb drive immediately after editing.
If your photographer is ordering your artwork from a professional printing lab, it will take longer depending on the products ordered. Some products can take up to 4 – 8 weeks to arrive due to the nature of the products.
If you are in a time crunch because you want to have an image for a graduation announcement and it’s a week before graduation, you might need to choose a photographer that offers online galleries and print releases. If you are wanting a lasting piece of archival quality art for your wall, then the second photographer would be the way to go.
A few final thoughts…
All this to say that talking to your photographer and asking questions will make sure that you get what you want how you want it. If you haven’t read part 1 of this blog post series, click here to read Critical Questions to ask a horse photographer before booking, Part 1.