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Frequently Asked Questions


What should I look for in a Professional?

In this day and age anyone with a cheap camera and a social media profile can add ‘Photographer’ to their name and call themselves a ‘Professional’. But, how can you, the buying public be sure they are a professional? Viewing pretty photographs on a Facebook or other social media site, only tells you part of the story. To assist you, we have created this list of frequently asked questions to help you know what to expect when choosing a photographer you can be confident in.

**Disclaimer: Rates and fees in this FAQ are based on our survey results and are for informational purposes only.  There may be photographers charging more or less than stated.


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What does it take to be an Accredited photographer?

Accreditation is the degree of elevation above the entry membership level, and is achieved by submitting samples of the applicant’s photography in a chosen category. Accreditation demonstrates that the photographer has proven professional ability to the Board of Examiners of the Professional Photographers of Canada. In assessing Accreditation submissions, the judges will consider the following criteria: Vision, Impact, Composition, and Technical merit. To be Accredited is to be recognized as an expert in a given photographic field.

What is the difference between copyright release and a print release?

A copyright release document releases the copyright from the photographer and transfers it over to the client. The client can then do whatever they wish with the image(s).

A print release document allows the client to print the photographer’s image(s) for personal use, while the photographer maintains copyright of the image(s).  Note that this release only applies to you and not to anyone else.  You may not send the image file to other people and let them print or otherwise reproduce.

Who owns copyright to my images?

Under the Canadian Copyright Act, photographs are protected just like any other artistic works such as sculptures, paintings, drawings and engravings. Whether you take the photo on your smart phone or with your camera, that image is protected under Canadian copyright law.  Due to recent changes to law, any images taken on or after November 7, 2012, the photographer/author is the first owner of the copyright.

The photographer owns the copyright in any commissioned photographs they take and can use them however they like. However, the individuals who commission the photographs are able to make personal or non-commercial use of the photos if they have paid for them. For example, a bride or groom that hired a photographer for their wedding can print photos for their house or to give to family members without infringing on the photographer’s copyright.  There should always be a contract between the parties for any shift in copyright and specific uses.

Can I use any image I find online for my own website or other commercial purposes?

You must, at the very least, ask permission to use any image (or video or song) you find online.  Remember, this work was created by someone.  Licensing fees are typically charged according to the intended scope of use.  You can potentially save yourself from an expensive copyright fight by doing the right thing and asking for permission first.

What should we wear to our session?

This can vary greatly and depend on your photographers style, your style, the location, the ages of the people, etc.  Rule of thumb tends to be: choose clothing that does not detract from faces, or overpower the image.  Selecting 2 or 3 colours that blend well together for each person to wear is often recommended.  Ask your professional photographer for a consultation based on your situation.

Why do I need professional headshots instead of doing one myself with my phone?

Professional commercial photographers who specialize in headshots know how to light, pose, style and bring out the best in you, in a way you never could with your phone at the end of your arm.  You and your online persona deserve the best image of yourself!

What happens if I have a terrible experience with my photographer?

Well, that is where PPOC can help you!  In the rare case that you have a bad experience and can’t resolve conflicts with your PPOC member photographer directly, you can submit a complaint to our Ethics Chair, ethics@ppoc.ca.  They will work between both parties toward a solution.  This could save you time and money in small claims court. Only PPOC photographers in good standing will be assisted with any potential mediation.

How often should we have professional family portraits taken?

At the very least, once in your lifetime! However, we recommend every year when your children are very young, and then every 2-5 years after the age of 6.

How long does a session usually last?

This can vary but the average would be 1-2 hours for portraits depending upon the number of and ages of the subjects, variety of groupings, location etc.

Why does a photographer charge what they do for an 8x10 when I can just print it locally for $2?

Would you expect to pay for just the canvas and paint for a Picasso?  You are investing in finished art the photographer’s skill, vision, creativity, and expertise.  You are also paying for superior paper and print quality.  Photography is their business so selling you prints for $2 does not take into account all the business costs that go into it (overhead, computer, car, studio, education, insurance and so on). They need to make a profit to have a successful business.

What is the benefit of investing in a professional photographer?

You typically get what you pay for. You will receive premium service, quality photo products, and the photographers's range of experience and skills.  True professionals keep up with their skills and education, invest thousands of dollars into the best professional photographic lighting and camera equipment, as well as fast computers.

What is the benefit of hiring a PPOC Accredited Photographer?

PPOC has created a procedure whereby our photographers must complete a successful Accreditation judging process by submitting 10 images to prove they are proficient in specific genres.  Currently there are over 70 Accreditation categories.  PPOC photographers also abide by a strict Code of Ethics .  They are not permitted to advertise themselves as PPOC members until this process is complete.

What questions should I ask when looking for a wedding photographer?

Are you insured with at least 2 million dollars of liability?
Do you have a back up plan if you get sick?
Do you bring at least two sets of equipment with you in case of failure?
Do you have a legal contract I can view?
Will YOU be the person photographing my wedding?
What is your turnaround time for my wedding images?
What do your packages include?
Are you an Accredited Wedding Photographer?
How long have you been a Wedding Photographer?
What are your payment options?
Ask if you can have an in-person meeting to see if they are the right fit for your big day.
Do you have testimonials/ reviews/ references?
Will you provide the digital files or an album?

Why don’t some photographers sell all the files?

There are many different business models.  For example, many professionals only sell finished printed products and will include a small social media file for screen sharing from ordered images only.  They want to provide you with full service that results in tangible, finished printed products that hang on your wall, sit on a desk or are relived in a beautiful custom album.  Expert editing is done to each image depending on the size and medium of the final printed product.

What can I expect to pay for a portrait session?

They average family portrait session fees usually range between $100 and $300** not including products (albums/ prints/ files).

What's the difference between a Professional Photo-lab and Consumer Photo lab?

The main differences between a Professional Photo lab and Consumer photo lab are:

Pro labs do not ‘enhance’ your files adding unwanted saturation and contrast to the final print. All the beautiful editing the photographer did just as they intended.
Pro labs use heavier, archival paper. If you hold a print from Professional lab and a Consumer lab next to each other you will feel the difference. Thicker prints tend not to warp over time.
Pro labs have strict quality control so that your images are true to the original files displaying the ultimate colours, density, and contrast.
Pro lab prints are archival and will last for generations.
Pro labs are often only available to professional photographers.

What can I expect to pay for Professional Wedding services?

From our latest Benchmark survey, a sampling of industry trends from all Canadian photography markets, wedding photography typically costs between **$1000 and $5000 .  Of course, there are some who charge less, and others may charge more.  Typically, you will obtain a much more experienced and skilled photographer at the higher end.

How much should I expect to spend on portraits?

Our survey results show anywhere from $200 to over $3000 (not including the portrait session fee).  The average falls into the $700 to $1000 range.

Don’t all photographers give portrait session files?

No.  While some photographers will sell or include digital files, many will provide you with archival printed products to be seen and appreciated in the physical form displayed as part of your home’s decor, or in albums.  Many of these products can ONLY be sourced through your professional photographer.

What things should I look for when looking for a portrait photographer?

Do they have a professional website?
Does their work showcase good lighting and composition knowledge and skills?
What is their turnaround time?
Are they a PPOC member Accredited in Portrait photography?
What is their satisfaction guarantee policy if any?
Do they have liability insurance?
Ask for references and check any online reviews.
Do they have a physical studio/ gallery?
Go and visit them in person if possible.
Do they offer a complimentary pre-portrait consultation to discuss how to best achieve the types of portraits you’re seeking?
Do they offer a complimentary clothing consultation?

When should we have newborn photos taken?

Between 1 and 10 days old is recommended.

Monday, December 31, 2018

I'm not happy with the portraits my photographer took.  What can I do?

You can let them know your concerns directly and work with them to find a satisfactory solution, whether that be in the form of a reshoot, adjustment in pricing, or refund.  If you cannot work it out with your photographer, you have the option of filing a complaint with our Ethics Chair, ethics@ppoc.ca provided your photographer is a PPOC member in good standing.



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