So you're gearing up to book a photoshoot and you're searching for a photographer.
You don’t want any photographer though - this is a shoot for your business! You want to make sure that the person you entrust your vision with is someone who truly ‘gets’ you, who you’ll feel comfortable with and who will help you bring your business to life by capturing your story and your essence.
While it might not seem like it at first glance, there’s quite a lot to consider when hiring a photographer for your personal branding photoshoot. Having had three photoshoots of my own now and worked with countless personal branding photography clients in London, here’s what I’ve learned about finding the best photographer for you.
What do you want?
First and foremost, it’s a great idea to sit down and write out your own list of priorities so you’re clear on what’s most important to you! I’m writing this blog post with tips and ideas to help you, however there might be things I mention that are’t so important to you or that I haven’t mentioned at all.
What to do:
Start with yourself and a pen and paper (nothing beats it!). List out what’s essential to the most important person in the session: You!
Type of photography:
There are many different photographers working in many different niches. If you’re looking at hiring a photographer for your business, my suggestion is to look for photographers who specialise in business and personal branding photography.
The benefit? Personal branding photographers work specifically with business owners all the time. A good one will have experience in understanding a brand and helping you to bring your own brand to life through great questionnaires and in pre-session planning consultations. They’ll have hair and makeup recommendations for you, advice on how to choose the best clothing options and help you identify what props (if any) and locations are going to work best for your unique brand.
While other types of photographers, for example wedding photographers, will still be able to take beautiful pictures, when it comes to personal branding, unless it’s your photographers regular business they won’t necessarily be able to deliver the full experience with strategy and brand planning!
what to do:
Google 'Personal branding photography + your area' and mark all the websites that come up. Also look through your Instagram feed and websites of other business owners who's style you like and see if you can find out who their photographer was.
Every photographer has their own unique editing style. As photographers, our editing style is our creative stamp on our work, and is what helps us attract the kinds of people who are going to naturally love the photos we produce.
Some photographers will use minimal edits, correcting only colour balance, exposure and unnatural looking skintones. Others have quite a heavy editing style, where obvious colour changes have been made. Some photographers like to photograph in a dark and moody style, while others - like myself - are naturally drawn to light and bright editing. All in all, photographers spend a loooot of time developing and refining their signature editing style, and it's not always something they'll be willing to change.
What to do:
Make sure the photographers you enquire with have a consistent editing style, and that you love the way they edit. For example, if you find yourself naturally drawn to light and bright photos, don’t hire a photographer who’s photos are dark and moody, because you’ll get photos in return that are not aligned with the style you like and they won't 'feel' like you.
As the old adage goes, ‘Pay for peanuts and you get monkeys'. Here’s the thing: Photography is an expensive business to be in, with equipment, skill education, software and retouching expenses adding up to quite a lot. That doesn’t mean if you pay very little your photographer won’t do a good job - there are lots of photographers who are just starting out building a portfolio who will be able to take beautiful pictures regardless!
However if you're after a complete experience where you feel totally seen and held from start to finish, it's best to understand upfront whether or not your photographer's service will meet your expectations of what you want from a session. The experience will likely vary depending on what their packages and include and what their fee is.
If you’re looking for a true end-to-end experience - one where you’re cared for from start to finish that involves speedy and effective communication, expert tips and advice, efficient and consistent editing turnaround and seamless delivery of your products, your photographer will charge a rate that reflects all the time, skills, equipment, software, education and administration that happens to bring your session to fruition.
Particularly with personal branding, it’s so important that your photographer is able to understand you and your business and spend time helping you to get clear on your vision and give you care and attention, answering all your questions. For example, if you're expecting a detailed consultation with your photographer about your shoot so they're fully briefed, assistance with choosing a location, advice on clothing and props and hair and makeup, it's unlikely you'll be able to find this service from a newer photographer with low rates. It's not feasible from a business perspective.
If your photographer is charging rock-bottom prices, I can almost guarantee they'll be some combination of insanely busy, not keeping up with their work, they won't have much time to dedicate to understanding your brand fully, to responding to your emails in a timely manner, to location scouting, to offering a pre-shoot consultation or their work won't be to a high standard. They certainly won't be able to invest in camera equipment, skills and training to continue their growth and deliver better portraits with each and every shoot.
Neither is necessarily right or wrong, but it helps to be clear on a) what you want from your session and b) what your budget will realistically allow.
What to do:
Budget permitting, consider the level of care you would like to see from your photographer, and invest in someone who is able to deliver you the full experience you deserve.
Previous work and happy customers
Check out the photographer’s testimonials. Is the feedback from their previous clients in line with what you value in a photoshoot? For example, is it really important that your photographer helps you feel relaxed? And do their past clients share that as part of their experience? Or do you want to know that their turnaround time is speedy and efficient, or that they make the planning process easy and breezy?
What to do:
Review your photographer's testimonials and check that the experience matches your expectations. You can go one step further and ask your photographers’ past customers if they were happy with the work and if they'd work with them again.
Is your photographer a co-collaborator? By that I mean, are they willing to spend time before your session to talk thorugh your business, your brand and what your vision is in detail? Are they someone who will listen closely to your brief, and offer up some suggestions of their own, too?
You want someone who's process involves a truly collaborative experience: Someone who will get clear on your vision and work with you to create portraits that your ideal clients connect with. Someone who will get to the heart of your brand, unearth your essence and pull together a plan to create photos that show the world exactly who you are - and that takes time and planning!
What to do:
Ask your photographer what their process is before their portrait session and what level of involvement they have in the planning.
Speak on the phone
Rapport between the you and your photographer is so important in helping you feel relaxed and comfortable during your session. Find out if the photographer you're considering is someone you feel comfortable with by speaking with them on the phone before you book them.
What to do:
Request a phone call with your photographer before you book them to see if there's a genuine connection between you and that they're someone you feel you can trust not only on a skill level, but a personal one as well.
These are my tips to help you find the perfect personal branding photographer for you. What do you think? I hope you found the article helpful.
If you're in London or Sydney and would like to work with me, I'd be honoured to speak with you. Head over here to send me a quick email and I'll be in touch with 24 business hours to answer your questions and arrange a quick phone chat.