There are 100 ways to photograph a banana.
It's true! There are 100 ways to photograph a banana and almost any person, place, or product, so how do you choose the right photographer to get the shots you want? Everyone wants that ace shot of their company's "banana" so to speak.
As a contractor, I've been on the receiving end of clients shopping around for the right photographer plenty of times. Yet much to my surprise sometimes the only thing Im asked about is my pricing. No samples are requested, no information on the shoot, timelines or availability, rarely on copyright, and almost never on the quantity of photos I can provide. If Im working with a marketing manager, yes, these elements are explicitly discussed, sometimes even in painful detail. However, many business owners shopping directly for photographers miss some of the most important questions that would determine if they are going to work with the right professional.
"There is more to hiring a professional photographer than just receiving professional quality photographs. The quality of service, timeliness, and style of photos you need for your company are equally important considerations that determine who you should hire."
Here are some professional tips for business owners to use in their search for hiring a photographer that is right for their company:
1. Ask for suggestions from your colleagues
referrals are often the best way to get what you're looking for
As the saying goes, nothing beats word of mouth. In any business transaction trust is paramount and if your colleagues in business have had a very good or very poor experience with a photographer then hear them out and take their suggestions seriously. A good professional photographer should not only yield great photos fit for your brand, but also be a pleasure to work with, not a total pain in the ass. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Many photographers consider themselves artists (and rightly so) and their own vision of what they want to produce outweighs the importance of the commercial nature of the shoot. Hiring a photographer for your company is about achieving the look and feel of YOUR brand, not theirs. So speak to your professional network and ask for suggestions. More often than not, this is a path to success.
2. Have a clear description of what you want
give as many parameters as you can about what you need from a photographer
Hiring a photographer is like buying a car. You don't go to a car dealership and say, " I want to buy a car, how much?" You need to decide on your budget, the purpose of the vehicle, colour, model, age, and the features you want. Treat the process of hiring a photographer in a similar way. Decide as a business what you really need and approach a photographer with these details in mind:
- Quantity of photos needed
- Style of photographs you're looking for
- Schedule for when you need the images
- Purpose of the images ( for web, print, PR, catalogue, social media, etc)
- Associated costs you'd like quoted ( models, wardrobe, styling elements, studio, etc)
- Variety of shots you'd like ( 1 or several locations, artistic and corporate, black and white as well as colour, etc.)
You'll receive a much more accurate quote and indication of the experience level of the photographer if you include these things in your request. Not to mention a better idea of what you need for your company.
3. Discuss Copyright
it sucks to see your images being used by your competition
During my time as a photographer I can say that copyright varies DRASTICALLY between countries, as does the expectation around it. If you'd like a set of images that are intended for YOUR business only, then be explicit about this expectation. It's perfectly normal for photographers to use images they've shot for your company for their own self-promotion, but if you start seeing them on the homepage of another website, in a competitors social media feed, or on a stock photo site, then likely someone has screwed up. Exclusive copyright of images usually comes with an extra cost, but its often a cost that is worth it for business owners who've paid for customised professional images. Or else why would you bother?!
4. Examine their portfolio and ask for samples
ask photographers for a sample of the kind of images you're looking for
A photographer's portfolio is usually a good indication of whether or not he or she can produce the kind of images you're looking for. Everything from the content of what they shoot to the look and feel of the images. You should have a pretty good idea of what they are capable of if you take the time to look through their portfolio. That being said us photographers are just as bad as anyone when it comes to keeping our websites fresh and up-to-date so don't be afraid to ask for samples if you don't see exactly what you're looking for. I once hired a photographer to help me with aerial shots on a contract and her website was nothing but corporate head shots. She was amazing to work with and Im so happy I asked her for some samples. I loved the look and feel of her work I just needed to see something more specific to the job I was working on myself.
5. Schedule a meeting or skype call
nothing beats a conversation or a little face time
This may seem like the most obvious suggestion ever but in the digital age of email and social media messaging platforms sometimes an actual conversation doesn't happen unless requested. Always request it! If the photographer you're most keen on lives in the same location as your business then sit down over coffee. If they don't then schedule a 15 min skype call. Within 2 minutes you'll get more information about their personality and professionalism then sending emails back and forth until 2am. Hiring a photographer is not just a client relationship its a COLLABORATION. You need to get on the same page and often these conversations are the best time to bring up ideas or any details too lengthly for emails. Add a human element to this process and take the time to talk.
With these tips in mind you'll be well on your way to choosing the right photographer for the job and the process of working with them will be much more pleasurable...for us too!
Oh, and in case you were wondering about the bananas, there are 100 of them in total. Quite a few ways to photograph just one simple piece of fruit.
To view more photography and visual content please visit my website.