Working with Vendors

The Quick Version

Dealing with vendors, such as photographers, graphic designers, and printers can be tricky. This page will give you some pointers, and help you know what to expect.

In the Division of University Advancement we work with vendors like Photographers, Designers, and Printers regularly. We realize it can often feel like foreign territory. To help you navigate this process we have developed some pointers, so you know what to expect, when to expect it, and how to react. This will help your project go as smoothly as possible.

If you have any questions, or don't know how to handle a specific situation, we're here to help. Contact Jeff Foster or Jennifer Hane and we'll do everything we can to help.

Hiring a Photographer

When negotiating your contract:

  • Remember, you are not buying a photograph, you are hiring a contractor to take photographs.
  • Make it clear you expect all photographs, and negatives/originals, will belong to you. (Full usage rights)
  • Never agree to only purchase the photos you want; You should to receive a disc of all the photos taken. (Though it is normal to expect some editing and for the photographer to remove poor quality or duplicate images.)
  • It is reasonable for the photographer to keep copies of the photos, to use in their portfolio, etc, but under no circumstances should the photographer "retain full rights" and expect you to ask them for permission to use the images.

Before any pictures are shot:

  • You can ask to see samples of the photographers work - know if you think they'll do a good job before you agree to hire them.
  • Ask for references so you can talk to current/past clients of the designer.
  • Create a shot-list (a list of specific goals and/or pictures you want) before even contacting a photographer. This will help you articulate what you are looking for.
  • Think through what type of photographer/photography you are looking for; a photographer who uses natural light and has a journalistic style will give you very different photos than someone who takes studio-lit portraits.

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Hiring a Graphic Designer

When negotiating your contract, it is important to be clear about:

  • Your overall expectations, explain the project as clearly as possible
  • The budget you have to spend on the project (this may nullify the remaining bullet points)
  • How many "revisions" the designer will complete. "Revision" and "concepting" are not the same. You should expect some concepting in the beginning, and the concepting process should not count as a revision.
  • What is outside the "scope" of the estimate
  • Who will handle the print coordination, and who will do the press check
  • The importance of deadlines

Before materials are developed, and your contract is signed:

  • Get at least one estimate (up to three estimates is ideal) for your project.
  • Ask to see samples of the designers work.
  • Ask for references so you can talk to current/past clients of the designer.
  • Have the designer(s) become familiar with the UCCS graphic standards (if they aren't already) by using the UCCS Brand Identity Standards website or contacting University Advancement.
  • Share examples of work you like, so there is no "assuming" you are on the same page.
  • Visit with University Advancement to help develop a project work sheet you can share with your vendor. If that's not possible, be sure to answer the following and share it with your designer.
    • What is the goal of your project?
    • What action do you want people to take after viewing your piece?
    • Who is your audience?
    • What do the need/want to know? What do they already know?
    • What are you main messages/talking points?
    • When is the project needed?
    • What is the quantity?
    • Who needs to approve the project?

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Working with Printers

  • It is often best to work with the UCCS Print Shop, but there are times where a project cannot be done in-house.
  • When working with external printers, there are issues like file-type compatibility, color spaces, etc, that make it feel complicated. We recommend having the contracted graphic designer include print coordination in their bid. If this is not possible, please remember the following:
    • Get at least one estimate (up to three estimates is ideal) for your project.
    • Ask to see samples of their work.
    • Ask for references so you can talk to current/past clients.
    • Ensure your deadline can be met.
    • Look through paper samples and be sure they have the type of paper you need to use. (We recommend using recycled paper whenever possible.)
    • Find out when and how the printer handles press checks.

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Portrait of Jennifer Hane

Jennifer Hane

Director of University Events & Alumni Relations

View bio and contact info →