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Tips for working with a photographer to get the best images for your veterinary practice

Posted in Operations @ May 5th 2016 - By Judy Gillespie interviewing Linda Puetter, eCommerce Photography Solutions
Tips For Working With A Professional Photographer

Do the images on your veterinary practice website show you as the professional that you are?

In previous posts I’ve talked about the importance of:

  • Having a website (d’oh!)
  • Using images of real people on your website (everyone can pick a stock photo from miles away!), and
  • Using a professional photographer to ensure your veterinary practice is presented in the best possible way (and you can use the photos in a range of other marketing materials!)

Recently this all came together in a great (non-veterinary) example when I helped out a friend who owns a physio clinic by taking part in a photo shoot for her upgraded website. I wasn’t the only friend called in to help as she had selected a range of others in her ‘target demographics’.

We turned up to her clinic on a Saturday afternoon in the gear she had asked us to wear to be placed in a variety of positions to demonstrate the range of services her clinic specialises in.

As usual she had it all under control...

As usual she was very organised and had a list of features and services she wanted to promote and used all of her consult rooms to ensure a good overview of her entire clinic. Earlier in the day her staff had come in for new headshots as although she really hadn’t had any staff turnover, everyone looks a bit different over a few years!

She used a local professional photographer (Linda Puetter of eCommerce Photography Solutions) to take all the images to ensure her clinic looked as professional as possible so I thought it might be interesting to ask Linda the photographer some questions on:

How to make the most of a professional photoshoot for your veterinary business....

1. How should you go about choosing a photographer for this purpose?

You should try looking for a commercial photographer with experience in lifestyle/photojournalism  or editorial photography. 

2. What guidance should the photographer provide?

If possible an on-site consultation should occur so that that photographer can see lighting conditions, space for lighting equipment, possible set scenes etc.  In an environment with animals it is best to use natural light areas to avoid stressing the animals with flash but sometimes an off camera flash away from the animals is unavoidable to avoid slow shutter speeds with moving animals.

Organization is important in order to have a smooth shoot.

It is important to work out a plan or run sheet of the type of shots required to work out how long, how many people required etc. A photographer should listen to the client’s needs, provide advice that will make the shoot time efficient and as easy as possible for everyone  and every animal on set. A lot of times the shoot could occur in the workplace while business is taking place so the least amount of disruption is important. If possible, arrange the shoot out of hours and use family and friends as models/actors to save on costs if needed.

Your photographer will ask questions about why you want the photos? Where will they be used? For website? For catalogue?  What size of photos are you requiring? etc. 

Be clear in what your needs are. 

Some photographers may present a contract outlining usage rights and copyright while others will give you full and unlimited usage rights and are happy with a verbal contract. Copyright remains with the photographer so you should always ask the photographer's permission if you want to use the images for any purposes other than what’s agreed on.

3. Is it possible to give an idea as to what such a service might cost?

It all depends. Some photographers will charge an hourly +image rate while others will charge a half day or full day fee with unlimited images.  It depends on the length of the shoot and how many images are required and the amount of editing afterwards.

4. What sort of preparation should you do before the photo shoot?

Clean up any clutter around the workplace to make the pictures look clean and professional.  In the locations that you are shooting, make sure there is a power outlet available if needed and clear space for lighting stands if required.  If there are models or actors make sure there is plenty of water or nibbles to make their time easier. Sometimes it takes a bit of time setting up shots so there can be a lot of waiting time.  Make sure the animals you are using are calm and be prepared for swift intervention if needed such as the animal doing a runner.

5. How can you help out the photographer on the day?

Ask the photographer what their needs are and let them know where they can and can't go. Introduce them to whoever is going to be involved and show them where they can put their gear, power outlets and provide assistance to move equipment or hold reflectors etc if they don’t have an assistant on site. Go through the run sheet together to confirm the order of shots and locations and if there any unexpected changes. Be aware of the upcoming shots so that you can prepare the sets before the photographer gets there.

6. From a photographer’s perspective what’s the worst (or most annoying) thing you can do?

Take photos with your mobile phone without letting them know.  I have had people step right in front of the camera to get a 'behind the scenes (BTS)' shot. BTS photos are great to put on Instagram but it’s polite to ask if the photographer or models/actors mind.  It can also distract the models/actors.

7. As most of the photos are going to involve animals is there anything that you could do to make the photographer’s job easier?

Always be present and calm the animals if necessary. A photographer may be afraid of larger animals like horses or cows or afraid that their gear will be knocked down so it's also helpful to be being aware of where the animals are at all times. Make sure you choose the calmest animals to be in the photos if they are out of their enclosures. Flash can startle animals so if possible natural light is the best to use but if there is a lack of light and a flash is required,  have everything set up and bring in the animal at the last moment so they are not startled by the practice shots.

8. What should you expect to receive from the photographer?

Depending on what was agreed before the shoot, possibly a disc of high resolution images or the images delivered by a Dropbox service.  Prints can also be arranged by the photographer if required.

If you'd like to check out some of Linda's images, you can visit her website here: eCommerce Photography Solutions or if you'd like to get in contact with Linda (she's based on the Gold Coast) you can call her on 0404 491 331 or via email lindapuetter@gmail.com

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