What to look for when you book a branding/commercial photographer

Well, first of all, you need to find one. When you are searching for a photographer, remember that you want someone who understands the brand personality, aesthetic, target audience, values, and the vibe of your brand and is able to capture it through the lens of their camera.

This will help them understand your vision for what you want to communicate through images, and how best to convey that message to potential customers. And if they're skilled at listening, then they'll be able to capture all those ideas in one session with minimal direction from you.

Branding photography is not just about taking photos. It's a process of collaboration where you and the photographer are in a dialogue to create images that reflect your brand personality, values, and style. Trying to do it on your own can be risky because it takes time - time you may not have if you're running a startup. 

There are so many things to worry about: choosing the right photographer, striking a balance between cost, quality, and time… The list goes on.

As a Commerical/Branding Photographer, I get asked quite often about what to look for when hiring photographers for your brand shoots. There is so much information out there about how important brand-based content is to business today, and for good reason. Images are more than just pretty photos. They can help elevate your marketing strategy as well as your content strategy in general.

A good photographer will take your vision and help you execute it. If you want to be in control of the shoot, you need a photographer who can work with you. You should feel like you're collaborating with them, not getting handed a CD at the end of the day.

The Smooth Secret Branding Session

Now imagine if you had a library of images for that next email campaign or launch graphics or even a brand new banner image for your website. Then it's important to know what you're looking for in a photographer. 

Healthy Balance 3 Branding Session

Here are five questions to ask when booking a photographer: 

1.) What is your shoot plan process and how will you help create imagery to advance my marketing goals?

This is something that every photographer will have to decide for themselves. There is really no wrong answer, as long as it fits within your vision, and works for you. Truly capturing the essence of an image in a way that will make your client fall in love with you and want to work with you again is one thing. But creating image assets that help promote a business or product at hand is a whole other ballgame. This is where things can get tricky if you don't have a plan in place.

Werkshop LA PeerSpace

2.) Do you have a studio?

There are many locations that can be used to capture your brand - in-studio and on location. Both have their benefits, but I would personally recommend an on location, as it allows you to convey more feelings, emotions and also gives your brand more credibility. It is a more natural way to capture your brand. We work with you to find the best locations that match your brand.

In the next blog, I'll explain where I like to shoot and why. The location doesn't have to be an obvious choice, it could be somewhere you go regularly, or somewhere that you and your staff love. Think about what makes your brand unique and why people will want to follow you online and in the real world.

I have a list of my favorite spaces that I suggest to my clients. 

3) How long is the process? 

I suggest reaching out to a photographer at least a month in advance. Hiring a professional photographer is a big decision. You need to be sure you're getting the best possible value for your time, money, and effort. Take a look at how long it took your photographer to finish their jobs. You'll notice that some of them are hired on an hourly basis while others charge per project.

This is because there is no set rate for taking photos. The photographer charges according to the difficulty, intensity, and time it takes. We are always open to discussing the scope of your needs and offer our creative input and suggestions. Our entire process usually takes about 3-4 weeks depending on the project. 

@facedbymaya x @asia_strayhorne

4.) Do you have a hair and makeup team available for clients? 

When you have an in-house hair and makeup team available to do the styling on your shoots, it makes the shoot run smoother because there's a professional on-hand to make sure hair and makeup are exactly as you envisioned. It also means that you don't have to worry about scheduling a separate appointment with a hair and makeup stylist, which saves time and money. I have a list of partners that I recommend for hair, makeup, and styling. 

5.) Are there any hidden costs or surprises?

Make sure what you're being charged is clear from the beginning. You should have a full price list from the photographer before you begin the project, with no hidden or extra fees.

The Eva Renee Brand Branding Session

Can I purchase more images than what’s included?

Photographers will usually offer a specific number of images in their packages, but then clients can purchase extra images. I offer a la cart pricing for anything beyond your package so that you can choose what you want to purchase. You can also ask to purchase the entire gallery if you wish. 

Click the image to view HHS portfolio

Where can I find your portfolio?

At this point, every photographer should have a portfolio of some sort. Check their portfolio online.

Do they specialize in your niche, commercial photography? What kind of commercial work have they done? These are important factors because you need to know what a good commercial photographer's work looks like and whether or not they have the experience to handle your shoot

Do you help plan outfits?

Things to consider when planning outfits:

  1. What is the overall brand feel?
  2. Is the brand more classic or trendy?
  3. Does the theme of the shoot relate to past campaigns?
  4. Are there any current trends that you can incorporate?
  5. How much time does your brand team have to work on stylizing outfits?

I'll work with you and your team to plan outfits that tell a clear brand story online or in print. I'll collaborate with you on color choices to ensure that they reflect life into your brand. I'll help you build a wardrobe of essential items that are flattering to your figure and which showcase your sense of style and personality. In the blog preparing for a branding session, I explain why you should avoid certain distracting colors/patterns and why your selections need to give life to your brand. To ensure that you are prepared, I've created a free guide on preparing for a branding session designed to create and curate beautiful imagery that converts across all channels.

The Feempire Firm's Branding Session

All this being said, don't forget to ask about timelines! If you have an event or launch coming up soon, let your photographer know so they can accommodate everything into one day.

We believe that quality content is one of the most important things when marketing a business online so we use all our experience and passion to help you with your marketing strategy.

Our mission is to help you develop long-term and meaningful relationships with your audience online by creating engaging content. Learn more about our services at www.humphreyhousestudios.com.