Finding a photographer to work with is easy. If you haven’t noticed, we are EVERYWHERE.
All you have to do is find someone with images you like on the internet and then send them an email asking them how much it would cost to shoot “x”, right?
In simple terms, yes, but making sure that photographer is the right fit for you and your brand is a different process altogether.
Here are a few tips for finding the right photographer for your project.
1. Ask around
If you don’t already know a photographer, chances are you know someone who does. In-person referrals can be a great way to narrow your search and get some insight into a photographer before you contact them directly. This can save you some time but be careful when your friend recommends their 17-year-old nephew. Take their referral with a grain of salt and do your research.
2. Ask the Google
What don’t we search on the internet these days? Punching a few key words into a Google search is a good way to get started if you can’t find anyone through your personal network. I’d recommend using three key words to start: “The type of photography you want,” “Photographer,” and “your location.” For example, “portrait, photographer, Vancouver.” Easy peasy.
3. Research the photographers you like.
Once you have a list of a few photographers you are considering, spend some time looking at their website, Facebook page and Instagram accounts. Do they have work that you like? Does it look professional? Do you think their style would be a great fit for your brand? Is their work similar to what you want?
This is also a chance to get a sense of who they are. Do they seem like someone you would want to work with on a personal level?
Note - Photographers don’t always show all of their work in a portfolio or on a website. We are often trying to tailor our websites for a very specific type of work we want to do, but that doesn’t mean we are not able to do other types of photography. So, if you really want to work with a particular photographer but you don’t see the kind of work you need in their portfolio, now is a chance to dig a little deeper and have a conversation with them.
Also, don’t base your decision on their social media accounts alone. Someone might have a lot of followers, beautiful images and promote themselves as a photographer but that doesn’t mean they know how to work with a brand (see my previous post discussing if you need to hire a professional photographer).
5. Do you need a specialist
Many photographers will tend to specialize in a particular type of photography while others are generalists. Areas of focus can be portraits, food, sports, etc.
Depending on the type of photography you want and what your brand's needs are you may want to consider if you need a photographer with a particular niche. If your starting a new clothing brand that focuses on high fashion you will probably want to pick a photographer who specializes in making clothing look pretty rather than the photographer who's portfolio is full of action/sports images. Next week's post will discuss photographers who specialize, so more on that later.
4. Get in touch
This is the big moment. This is how you will decide if you want to work with a photographer or move to the next one on your list.
Initially an email is probably best so that you can outline who you are and what kind of photo shoot you are after. This will also give you a chance to get some more information about them and the type of work they do beyond their website.
Include some basic details in your initial email:
Date(s) and any deadlines for the shoot
How the images will be used
Some brief details about who you and your brand are
Also ask some questions about their experience with your type of photo shoot. Maybe their entire portfolio showcases the type of work you want, or maybe they show off another type of work but are equally capable to achieve your look and style. You won’t know until you ask.
The photographer will likely respond with a lot of their own questions to get a better sense of what your needs are, and there will be some back-and-forth communication. This process is how you get a sense of their personality and professionalism.
You don’t have to feel like you and the photographer will be best friends but you do want to know that they are someone you can work with and will ensure they create the best possible images for your brand.
5. Know your budget
I’m going to write another post on this subject and communicating your budget with a photographer, but for now I’ll keep this to that daunting first question of “how much will it cost?”
Chances are the photographer doesn't have prices listed on their website. And, they likely won't be able to answer this question right away. They may even seem a little evasive if your first email provides very few details but you ask what their price is. The photographer may even ask you what your budget is.
This is all actually very normal and it is NOT because the photographer will charge you more if you tell them your budget first.
Every photo shoot is different and has different needs in terms of equipment, permits, insurance, crew, etc. The photographer will want understand all of your needs so they can give you an accurate quote within your budget.
Knowing your budget, or at least working with the photographer to understand what a shoot might cost, is a really important part of the process, but more on that in another post.