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  • Writer's pictureMary Callahan

Questions to Ask When Hiring a Photographer

You’ve started brainstorming your first (or next) brand photoshoot. You have a timeline planned, a mood board in development, and campaign content ideas keeping you up at night. One step not to procrastinate? Hiring the photographer! If your company doesn’t have a photographer on staff (and most small businesses do not), you’ll need to hire a freelance photographer to help make your vision come to life.

Here’s how to hire a photographer for your brand photoshoot:

Step 1: Ask around and do your research. Browse social media and brand websites. Who is shooting content you admire? What photographers do your coworkers and friends know of?

Step 2: Set up a discovery call. Don’t hire a photographer blindly (no pun intended). You need to speak over the phone (well, preferably via Zoom or in person) to feel out if they are the right fit for your brand and project. Here are some key questions to ask when interviewing a potential photographer:

  • Do you specialize in brand photography? Depending on what you’re shooting (people, products, clothing, motion, food, etc.), you’ll want someone with experience in and understanding of the content. Ask to peruse a portfolio to check out their past work. You may even want to get in touch with a brand they’ve worked with in the past to hear about the experience.

  • Do you typically do individual photoshoots or work with brands longer-term? If your brand will need more shoots in the future, it would be ideal to establish a good, trusting relationship with a photographer that you like working with again and again.

  • Do you provide lighting, location, set-up, hair/makeup connections, and/or retouching services? Some photographers come with a full production while others have just their camera. Both options (and everything in between) can be great, so long as you aren’t caught off guard. If they don’t provide extra services like lighting or retouching, ask if they have references you can reach out to.

  • What are your rates? This number needs to align with your project budget. Make sure you get a sense of a photographer’s full rates (i.e. shooting, editing, pre-shoot meetings, image usage/rights**, etc.) prior to signing a formal contract.

  • What does your schedule look like? If they’re not available during your timeline, this might not be the project for them. If your schedules are compatible, request a little buffer room on your shoot day (i.e. If your shoot is from 9am-noon, ask if they’re available until 1pm in case the shoot runs over) and be sure to ask about raw image and retouching turnaround time.

Step 3: Get it in writing. Once you’ve chosen a photographer you like, draw up a contract with the stipulations you’ve determined together (including date, time, rates, deadlines, usage, extra fees, etc.). Even if you’re working with a friend or close contact, it’s in the best interest of both parties that you and the photographer sign a formal agreement.

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