Image search, photo editing and production

Hire a photographer – it’s better than you think!

John Thomson, Photography on the Common, 1870s

John Thomson, Photography on the Common, 1870s – Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) – Public Domain

Sometimes the picture of the artwork you need doesn’t exist at all. Or maybe the existing images don’t show an important detail or they’re too old and the work was restored afterwards.

The best thing to do then is to hire a photographer and get exactly the picture you need.

The idea of hiring a photographer can be scary for some reasons. You’d probably don’t know where to start to find a professional suitable for the job, you think it would cost too much and you don’t know which laws regulate the commissioning of photographs.

It’s perfectly normal. That’s why there are people doing my job.

Luckily, photographers are everywhere, so it isn’t hard to find one close enough to the work of art you need. Hiring a photographer living in the area will spare you the travel expenses or will reduce them to a minimum if the travel is short.

Usually, photographers charge by the hour if you need pictures of one or few artworks (a painting, a group of statues, an architectonical detail, for example) or by the project if the job is longer (a large fresco or several artworks in different places).

It’s difficult to indicate a price list since it depends on the job and on the professional, but I can give you some rough estimates based on my experience.

If you need the picture of just an artwork you’d usually have a price between 50 and 100 euros. For longer jobs which involve up to 6 hours of work you might reach 200-300 euros.

You can spend less if the job is easy (e.g. if the work of art is outside and the photographer can go whenever she/he wants without having to make arrangements with a hosting institution) or more if the job requires the use of equipment like flashes, additional lights, tripods.

One of my clients was writing about alabaster carvings and needed a picture of an alabaster font located in a church in Tuscany. He thought that, given the translucent nature of the material, a light should be placed inside the font to show the carvings better on the photographs. The photographer working for him never did anything of the sort but was keen on experimenting with lights. In the end, the idea worked, the pictures were gorgeous and both the author and the photographer were happy and amazed with the result.

This is just a little example of what can be achieved having tailor-made pictures.

When the photographer has to work inside an institution there is a production work to do, that is my role too. It concerns the necessary arrangements to authorize the shooting, setting the right date for all the parties involved and take care of the permissions.

I also supervise the post-production and I edit the shooting if there are many pictures, working with the photographer to ensure the best possible outcome.

When you hire a photographer you have to sign an agreement to ensure a fair relationship. Even if the photographer and the customer live under different legal systems, there are some standard rules observed everywhere.

The owner of the pictures is the customer, that pays an amount agreed upon, and she/he can use them in any way and at any time. The only exception, in the case of artworks, is the permission of the institution that holds the work that often wishes to be informed of all the uses of the reproductions.

While the photographer can’t sell the pictures or give them to others (unless otherwise stated in the agreement) but can show them in her/his portfolio, resume or personal exhibition.

If you want to know more about commissioning photographs or if you need a picture and don’t know how to get it, email me and I’d be glad to help.