Not all photographers are equal… A true story

Not all photographers are equal… A true story

eCommerce Photography at Client's Premises

Behind the scenes – commercial mannequin photoshoot

Two months ago a friend asked me how much I’d charge for a photoshoot. She’s a fashion designer and was about to launch her first collection — we shot the lookbook for it a few months ago. Since then she’s been beavering away setting up her business and had just bought a new e-commerce website. All she needed now was the photos to sell her dresses on-line to complement the retail outlet sales she was getting.

There were 56 different style/colour combinations in total and she wanted front, back and detail shots of each. That’s 168 finished images in total, so a reasonable size project.

(As a rough guide that works out to be 8 hours in the studio for the photography and around 40 hours post production – assuming 15 minutes per image – to ‘finish’ them ready to upload to her site)

We quoted for three different options: what she asked for, the absolute minimum she needed and somewhere in the middle. The prices ranged from £2,100 to do absolutely everything she wanted (that may sound like a lot but actually works out to be just £12.50 per image for 168 images including studio time and retouch — there’s a complete price breakdown on my blog). This price dropped to £950 for the bare minimum.

Unfortunately she’d just spent £2,500 on having her new and very empty website designed. She had nothing left in the pot for her product images and decided to book another photographer.

I’ve no idea who she used but a couple of weeks later this email arrived…

Hi Gavin,
If I gave you a load of images to photoshop and edit for me how much would you charge?

We had a quick email exchange and long story short, her photographer had messed the job up. The images she’d received weren’t the invisible mannequin shots she’d asked for. Not by a long shot. I’m not going to go into detail about all the problems but they each needed a lot of work to put right to be in keeping with the rest of her site.

My recommendation was she get back to her photographer and insist she fix the problems — after all, she’d paid for images to put on her website and that’s not what was delivered.

I didn’t hear anything after that so assumed everything was now ok until this email arrived…

Hi Gavin,
Hope you are well. I have paid for work to be done with a photographer for images to go onto my website. They have given me images that are the page say copyrighted then the companies name. Does this mean I can not use this images even though they are of my products?

Many thanks


Sent from my iPad

Another quick email exchange ensued and it transpires that her photographer had taken over two months to deliver the (now finished) images to her. What’s more every image had a copyright watermark and the photographer’s name across them.

That’s not good and will likely cost her sales. It looks like she’s ripped the images from another website thereby destroying my friend’s credibility and reducing the trust her potential buyers place in her prior to ordering.

The photographer has every right to retain the copyright ownership of their images (unless a rights transfer was agreed) but no client wants watermarked images of their product. It leaves a bad taste in the mouth and in my opinion is unethical.

When you commission a commercial photographer to make images for you, you want to receive images that you can use to promote your product or service, not the photographer!!!

(Incidentally, that’s the way we work at GTPCommercial. You know in advance what you’re getting, how much it will cost and when you’ll receive your images. Furthermore, whilst we retain copyright ownership as laid out in our T&C’s, your images are unwatermarked and you have full usage rights)

Getting back to my friend’s situation, she was devastated. Her photographer was refusing to remove the watermark and their relationship was rapidly breaking down. My friend was left in the position of having paid for images that (a) weren’t very good and (b) she couldn’t use.

In essence, she’d been ripped off by her photographer.

The last I heard was that she was trying to get a refund of the £200 she’d paid for her images. No idea if she’s managed it or not.


Commercial Photography - ecommerce, menswear, Woking, Surrey

Commercial Mannequin Photography – Woking, Surrey

There’s a very valuable lesson in here: not all photographers are equal!!

When choosing who you’re going to use you also need to consider experience and previous work. Making a purely price based decision can be a very costly mistake.

In my friend’s case she’d chosen to hire a photographer at 1/10th of the price we quoted for the same job. It took over two months for her to receive her images and when they arrived they were watermarked and of such poor quality they were completely unusable.

That 2 month delay caused her to miss her market window. It was her Spring/Summer collection and as I write this at the end of September, we’re rapidly approaching the Autumn months.

The really sad part of the story is that her decision to book a budget photographer has crippled her business.

If you have a similar story to tell I’d love to hear it. Leave a comment below and let me know 🙂

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