How to hire a professional photographer | Part 1

How to hire a professional photograher

Part 1 of 3 of how to hire a professional photographer

Not all photographers are equal

When someone buys a camera, they are a camera owner. A photographer works hard to learn and master their craft of photography, using any camera.

Before you start your search, ask yourself this…

What is your WHY?

This is something every business and organisation should be clear on. It shapes everything you do, how you do it and allows you to align with the most suitable people. Clarity on your WHY will be a game changer. Simon Sinek says it all in his TED talk. If you haven’t seen this, it’s well worth joining the 5,840,000 others who have watched it.

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. – Simon Sinek

Why are you looking for a photographer, are you clear?

The project is underway. Right at the start, you know you’ll need to bring a photographer on board. Perhaps you’re going to need more than one photographer, several in fact. Being clear on your vision will become your guiding factor in finding photographers for your project.

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What are your expectations, have you worked with a professional photographer before?

If you haven’t worked with a professional photographer before there’s one sure way to have a great experience. Having clarity on your expectations. This also allows the photographer to tell you if your vision is doable in their mind. This, in turn, helps you both find solutions or be clear you’re not a good fit. The photographer will need to know, for example…

  • When and where you want the shoot to take place.
  • What the final images are requiring when it comes to image asset licensing?
  • Is he/she expected to bring in further talent to achieve the shoot brief or are you handling this?
  • Are you ok with paying some of the cost at booking and the remainder before image assets are delivered?
  • Do you have the graphics design layout ready and how does this affect the image requirements?
  • What is the final output for these images? Do you need it shot on specific equipment?

These 6 points give you an idea of what needs to be known in order to lay out the expectations..

Do you have a marketing strategy and team in place? Mood boards, style, feel, etc.

Having a marketing strategy in place before you start contacting photographers will be a big help. Your strategy lays out your requirements. Your requirements dictate what is needed to make the shoot happen. The photographer can then create a personalised estimate based on the project specifics.

Getting mood boards together ready to send out to prospective photographers will save time. It makes it clear to them what the project is right from the start. The final style may not be the photographers’ usual look but that doesn’t mean they can’t provide you with the images you need. Showing these styles gives them an opportunity to share some similar work which you may not have seen.

What’s your message?

Your message is an emotionally driven story. You want your images to speak to your clients and to evoke the right feelings and emotions. The differences in which you capture a photograph can be subtly different and that subtlety is where the magic can lie.

A good photographer has these emotions and message in their mind when they are working for you. Directing and shifting the viewer towards the desired emotion, bringing them into the picture, making them feel part of the story.

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What’s your budget?

It seems to be the most common sticking point that I hear about and experience with new clients. Please don’t ask a photographer how much they are for the day or half day. Be specific. What do you want them to do on that day? Remember, you’re paying for image assets. Only part of the cost is having the time and experience of the photographer so the images can be created.

How many images. How long you want to use the images. Where do you intend to use the images and for what, print, worldwide, online?

If you’re a new business 20-30% of your total budget will probably be on marketing for the first few years. Having effective photography with a clear strategy is crucial.

When coming up with a budget for commercial photography, it should be based on what is the value to your business. Could it be millions of dollars or tens of thousands? Being fair and honest with your photographer may sound fanciful and not good business, but you’ll have a much better and harder working team player if they’re able to make a good income and feel like a valuable team member. Undervaluing image assets are easy in this digital world, but it’s more important than ever to stop the swiping fingers and grab the attention with the best images you can create.

Images are business assets just like any other and they are your connection to potential clients and to tell your story. They work for you so you decide how hard they will work.

Understanding how the photographers set of skills might be applied to a different genre which may fit your needs.

Most commercial photographers tend to keep the genre that they shoot down to a minimum for marketing. Of course, when you’re looking for your photographer you don’t want to see a whole mismatch of photography styles and subjects when you visit their website. You’d like to find someone who specialises in what you care about the most.

Some genres of photography lend themselves to a number of different skills. Food, people and landscapes go hand in hand on travel assignments for example. You don’t have to discount a photographer because they market themselves as X if what you require maybe a small sidestep in their usual work to create something perfect for you.

In order to grow as a photographer, we often take on personal projects to learn and try new things. It’s worth looking into their personal work because what you’re looking for maybe covered by those projects. The plus for this is that if it was a personal project they probably enjoyed it. Therefore they’ll do a great job for you and your business.

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In Part 2 of “Finding Your Photographer” I’ll talk about what to look for and the best ways to approach hiring a photographer

Cheers, JT

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