Should you engage a professional photographer?

Choosing the right photographer can mean the difference between achieving your creative vision and “missing the mark”, regardless of how good the other elements are.

The power of good ad visuals is such that we often remember an ad’s key image and product for years after. Thus, having the right photographer is an important factor in maximising returns for the advertising dollar.

Ruth Soh, Ruth Photography

Compared to traditional film photography and the darkroom, digital photography and digital post-processing has made it easier and less costly for people to take up photography as a hobby.

While there are many amateurs who are able to create good images, there are also many reasons why companies should be careful about engaging amateurs for commercial work.

Sebastian Siah / Shooting Gallery Asia

Amateur Photographers vs Professional Photographers

More often than not, amateurs charge far lower than professional photographers. For many companies, this seems to be a good opportunity for cost savings.

However, as many companies have later discovered, problems can arise from a range of technical, artistic and legal issues that determine whether the final image can be used commercially.

Tommy Chia / Aerial Photographer SG

Being able to compose a good “shot” is only the beginning of the photographic process.

There are a great many other factors that contribute to the quality of the final output in commercial photography.

Eujin Goh / alt.PIX

Two of the major factors being:

1) Equipment

For one thing, the equipment used by professionals is typically of higher quality and cost compared to the average amateur.

Professionals pay for expensive equipment not only to produce higher quality results in the final image, but also for better reliability and robustness to avoid equipment failure during the shoot.

UKay Cheung / Ukay Photography

2) Intangible skills that make or break the shoot

Aside from equipment, many critical skills like:

  • experience in adapting to unexpected shooting conditions
  • providing valuable creative input
  • being able to look after every aspect of the shoot like:
    • recommending and directing of supporting professionals
    • ensuring the right legal documentation are well prepared (eg. talent release contracts, getting official clearance and permits to shoot, etc.)
Teck Hiang / TeckPhoto

How to find the right professional photographer?

Deciding on the right professional photographer for a particular job depends on factors like:

  • area of expertise
  • quality of work
  • skill level
  • track record
  • budget
Peter Chua / Caesar Production

Areas of expertise and quality of work are readily discernible if the photographer has an online portfolio for public viewing.

Geoff Ang /Geoffstudio

Professional Photographers in Singapore

Generally, when engaging an experienced professional photographer, clients are assured of images that are:

  1. of arguably high technical and artistic standard
  2. delivered in the correct quality and format for the different types of commercial reproduction
  3. have legal protection
Aaron Ang / Loud Kitchen

In order to gain membership in the Professional Photographers Association (Singapore) (PPAS) photographers need to meet the following criteria:

  1. professional integrity
  2. minimum of 2 years’ experience with 70% or more of total income derived from photography
  3. high quality of work

If you need to look for a suitable photographer, browse our member database here.

© PPAS 2018. All rights reserved.
First published in the PPAS Photographers’ Handbook 2010.