Continuing my 3 part series on how to find your photographer. Today I’m going to cover what to look for and how to find someone who is compatible with your business and brand. Then moving on to making contact and being as clear as possible saving you time narrowing down your choices and attracting the right photographer to you.
If this article interests you it may be helpful to go to How to hire a professional photographer part 1 if you haven’t read it yet.
What do you look for when hiring a professional photographer?
A solid understanding of the photography craft.
This is a given for hiring a professional photographer. After all, you don’t want to be paying for anyone to be learning the basics on the job. Every job has its own challenges in photography, and the photographer you choose needs to be dealing with those challenges, not focused on the basics.
In some cases, photographers are looking to move into a new genre. They may contact you to shoot for pro-bono so they can build a new portfolio and practice the new genre. This can still be a cost for you as a business owner. They’re offering their services for the time of your business. In these cases it’s pretty easy to look at the work they do to judge how professional and how proficient they are at what they already shoot. This will give you a good idea of the level they work to and if it’s something you’d be interested in.
Reading the bio of a photographer can also give you a feel for the personality behind the lens. Check out their social media feeds. Do they respond? How do they respond to comments? Watch any stories they have on their feeds. It is so much easier to connect with people today and find a great match for you and your business.
Is their WHY clear and does it fit with yours?
As I mentioned before, the WHY is the key to everything. Does the photographer put across why they do what they do? Does it fit well with your business? An extreme example would be, a staunch vegan who is actively promoting the removal of meat from our diet, does not have the same WHY as the Wagyu beef farmer, who takes amazing care of his cows but ultimately they go into the food chain.
Maybe the photographers WHY connects with you on a different level. Maybe you just like that the ethical and honest way they do business is refreshing.
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Do they photograph what your business is about?
If you’re looking for someone who specialises in your business then that will be easy to discover. Let me suggest that if they love the same things as your business, then it could be a great match. You will already have a connection and you can feel confident your business vision will be created in the images.
Do you like their style of photography and editing?
Looking at a photographers work you should be able to decide if you like their style. Do you like the moments they capture? The angles and style they shoot? What about the editing, do you like it? Or perhaps you find a real gem where you are taken away into your own experiences and memories, simply by looking at one image.
If you have a very distinct style, such as Instagram often illustrates, which you’re looking for, do they do that and have you asked about it?
How close a fit are they?
You obviously know when a photographer isn’t even close to the right fit. How do you know you have the right photographer? When you want to work with that person or business. You have to be mindful of the budget and you still want to work with them. They make you feel confident they have your back. They portray someone who will work as hard or harder than you will to achieve your vision.
If you’re thinking you don’t want to blow the whole photography budget on them, chances are they’re not the best match.
You should want to work with a photographer because you want to work with them and you’re willing to be pretty flexible to do that.
Their location shouldn’t be a problem unless one party wants it to be.
You’re not restricted to working with local photographers these days. You can have a project started in the UK, have a design team in Canada and the photographer could be in France. The project requirements will start to limit or expand your options.
Some photographers don’t want to work outside a certain radius of their location. Many others are quite happy and enjoy travelling farther afield. There are travel expenses to be considered but if the photographer you think is the best fit is based hundreds of miles away, add some expenses to the budget and make it happen.
There are also studio located photographers. These photography businesses tend to stay put and are used to having clients coming to them, or work remotely with clients anywhere in the world, which is becoming much more frequent. The requirements of the project will, once again, decide if you need a studio based photographer. Perhaps your photographer can create the studio look on location. Have you asked the question?
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Years as a photographer and how that impacts experience.
The amount of time spent in a job doesn’t always relate to the level of experience. If a photographer continues to shoot the same way and never tries something new they become stagnant. I believe humans are hardwired to keep learning and challenging themselves. That’s not to say everyone does that.
Photography is one of those crafts which has a seemingly infinite diversity, leading to constant growth and learning. I do come across the odd commercial photographer who seems like they’ve stayed still for decades. That tells me they’ve fallen out of love for photography. You obviously want to avoid them.
You’re looking for someone whom you can bring onboard as a team member.
When hiring any freelancer I think you should approach it like hiring a new team member and employee. You want someone who absolutely loves their place in the team, who will go above and beyond for their love of the process. Someone who enhances the entire project.
How to approach a photographer
Being clear about what you want to achieve from a project.
Lay out what you want, when you want it. Be crystal clear so everyone knows what is expected of them. You’re much more likely to get a clear and precise answer when your request is clear and to the point.
Be clear and honest about any project boundaries.
If you have a fixed time schedule or a maximum budget, lay this out at the beginning once you’ve chosen your preferred photographers. Have realistic absolute deadlines. Have a budget cushion in case circumstances lead to extra-budgetary requirements.
You’re hiring a team member, so don’t leave them in the dark. If you don’t trust they have your best interests at heart, don’t hire them in the first place.
Email or phone call?
I know the first level contact can be a bit generic, and often is. Try to inject your passion for the whole experience. When you sell the project to the photographer with as much enthusiasm as you have for the project, the excitement passes onto them. You may be surprised at how that will benefit you.
Perhaps your budget is a bit lower than the usual rate for this kind of project. If the photographer loves the ideas, there’s a good chance they’ll try to work within your budget where possible. Time is precious so we don’t want to waste anyone’s time in avoidable negotiations, be straight, ask them what can be achieved with the budget you have. It’s always better to have less amazing photos than loads of average to good ones.
You can’t beat meeting anyone you want to bring on your team in person. At the very least a video call.
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It’s as important for you to find the right photographer as it is for the photographer to find the right clients.
Everyone is connecting more than ever before. We’re all searching through endless names and lists to find our ideal clients and collaborators. Your photographer is looking for you as hard as you’re looking for them. When you’re authentic and clear why you’re in business, you will attract and find the perfect people. It’ll be clear who you are and you’re easy to find.
Tell your photographers about your project, your aspirations for your business.
It’s important everyone involved knows the bigger picture. It helps them see their place and why they matter in any project. When you bring genuine emotion to the project it becomes contagious. However, if your potential photographer’s response is flat, they’re probably not a good fit. You want someone who joins you at your level of interest or better still, will raise your energy and be a really positive force.
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In Part 3 of Finding Your Photographer, I’ll discuss the all-important budget and meeting your photographer.