Campaign Photography: How inexpensive can you go and still maintain quality?

You have a limited budget for your Outreach Campaign? Do tell!

Sometimes there isn’t the budget for professional photography so what do you do when you have a unique message and need a unique image that just isn’t available in royalty-free stock images?

Selecting the right photos for your marketing or public outreach campaigns is critical, and can make a significant difference in the acceptance of your message. First and foremost, the image must reflect, enhance or support the theme of the campaign.

Sometimes you can get lucky and find something “ready made” on one of the stock websites that is Royalty Free. These images are considerably less expensive than Rights Managedimages. Rights Managed Images charge by the size of image, whether it’s on the cover or inside of a piece and by it’s amount of distbribution. The file is “leased” for a limited time period and has to be re-leased when that period expires. Stock agencies are very good at tracking their images online and presenting the company with a demand for ‘back payment’ if the image lingers on a website longer than it’s lease allows. A good design firm will know this and consult you as to how long the campaign will circulate, whether there will be reprints and will also know that the rights-managed image must be leased for both web and print, if it appears in both formats.

There is no substitute for a good professional photographer, however the prices can range dramatically. Ask your Design Firm to provide you with options and rates: from high-end professional, to acceptable amateur. If your photograph is of a compost bin outside, you probably don’t need a professional photographer, perhaps the Designer himself is experienced enough to shoot that photo. However the photographer taking the picture should have some grasp of lighting and composition.

PD created the ENGAGE publication for the City of Pittsburg in 2012. We need a professional photographer for the cover shot but we didn’t have an unlimited budget. We found an experienced photographer who converted his garage into a lighting studio. He did not have high overhead so his price was literally half of the going studio rate. The model is the son of a friend. We were able to get a great studio shot at half-rate and very reasonable modeling fee. The photos for the inside of the brochure were purchased online at royalty-free rates, and photoshop magic was used to enhance the images and create seamless integration with the content.

Do you have a project that needs photography but also needs some creative budget “wizardry” ?

Email me at and we’ll see what we can do to help!

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