21 Questions to Ask Before Hiring Your Brand Photographer

branding photographer smiling with DSLR camera
Michelle Davina Photography

I know. It’s the twenty-first century. Everybody and their mother has a camera. Or two. The world is consuming more images – per minute – than it did in all the years, put together, before the explosion of cell phone cameras. If you are looking for a brand photographer, you have come to the right place.

Unless you’re living under a rock, you don’t just wake up and hire any person with a camera to be your brand photographer. You must do your homework, even if the photographer has images that stretch from Atlanta to Bora Bora. Part of that homework entails asking the questions below:

What’s the pricing and payment structure of a brand photographer? 

You don’t have to break the bank to get the best brand photographer that money can hire. Most photogs are open to the idea of having flexible payment plans. Be honest with your photographer. They have handled different clients before. A photographer who not only has lens’ skills, but also people skills, will make the whole process – from negotiation to delivery – enjoyable and unforgettable. 

Remember that cheap is expensive. And a brand is one of the priciest commodities. Work around your budget; but don’t opt for the cheapest photographer in town to cut necessary costs. 

What’s the experience of the brand photographer?

Yeah, there is a place for beginners. But, in this business, experience can be the difference between having pics that look like a million bucks and those that resemble relics from ten millenniums ago. What would you rather prefer? A photographer who has done their 10,000 

hours, or one who’s doing their trial and error on your precious self?

What’s the photographer’s background and credentials? Can you see their portfolio? Look, experience speaks for itself. You will see it in the final product. You will hear it from clients the photographer has worked with, and from people who behold your pictures. 

Does the brand photographer have any skeletons in their closet? 

It’s a small world. Do your research on a prospective photographer before you sign on the dotted line. Uncle Google doesn’t just have all the answers; he also never forgets.  

Look, you’re talking about your brand here. And, like we said, that’s a precious commodity that should be protected at all costs. You don’t want to work with a photographer who is sinking, and who may take you down with them. This isn’t personal; it’s business.

Michelle Davina with donuts
Michelle Davina Photography

What’s included in the brand photography package?

I’m talking about equipment, staff, and the whole shebang. If bad comes to worse, an experienced photographer can work with mediocre equipment, and make it work. It’s how a photographer works that ultimately decides the final quality of their work. 

However, any photog who’s worth their Kodak Moment is always hitting the update button, on all items in their arsenal. And that’s because quality staff and equipment are two-thirds of the equation. Ask the photographer this question. The answer can be part of the reason why their cost is higher than others. 

Does the brand photographer have a backup plan?

Accidents happen. But the shoot must go on. Which means that every experienced professional photographer should have a backup plan, when it comes to staff and equipment, and other pros on fast dial.

Photographers often capture fleeting moments in time; moments are unique never to be repeated. Having a backup plan, in case of emergencies, gives clients the reassurance that your photos are still safe. 

branding photographer shoot with makeup

Does the brand photographer have connections with other players?

Photography is, by and large, a collaborative game. For instance, if your photoshoot needs reputable makeup artists, does the photographer have connections with the best players in the industry? Can the photographer hook you up with the necessary connections, if and when there is need?

These connections will take away some of the headaches you may have, and will prevent you from playing a game of hit-and-miss, when it comes to hiring other players. If your brand photographer vouches for other players, you can rest assured that the experience will turn out great.

Does the brand photographer accept to work with “x”?

“X” is, in this case, a prop or something – an unknown entity – that you may need to be part of the photoshoot. While the photographer may tick all the boxes, there may be something specific that you want to have during the shoot.

Maybe, just maybe, the photographer has certain biases and beliefs, which may stand in the way of working with you, because of that “x”. While most photographers are generally accommodating, and will give their clients the best experiences – regardless – there are others who will not cross certain lines. Or, you may want to have a photo session on a certain day, but the photographer may decline due to their religious belief.

branding photographer guide with a smile

Is there a need for a brand photography planning process? 

Rarely do photography sessions happen without prior planning and consultation. During this planning process, you can share your thoughts with the photographer and ask for their expert opinion. If the photographer can make time for you, even if they have a busy schedule, it should tell you that they will be available for you throughout the process.

The planning process can also be an opportunity to visit the photographer’s studio, if they have one or review the studio space online, and make an informed decision. If you are doing the planning via phone or tele-conference, make sure you have all your questions at hand. A good plan precedes a great photoshoot. You’re spending a ton of cash to capture these branding shots.

Does the brand photographer shoot the kind of images that you need?

This may seem like a superfluous question. But, trust me, it’s not. There are photographers who have carved a niche in specific fields. They are laser-focused on one thing. They are excellent at what they do, and average at other shoots. 

You want to get a photographer who knows everything concerning the shoot, and the kind of images you need. It will be a frustrating affair issuing instructions to the person behind the lens; as it’s supposed to be the other way round. 

branding photographer locations in atlanta

(i.e. Blanc Studio West, Park Studio )

Location, location, location

Location for a photoshoot is of the essence, as it is through this core requirement that other variables – like lighting – are factored in. There may be cost implications when it comes to a location. And, if so, who will bear this cost? 

Asking your photographer about the location, and seeking their knowledge, will help in getting the best quality pictures. You may have one location that your mind has locked in on, and you think that’s it. The input of the photographer will open your eyes to different locations and different ways that you can go about it. The knowledge of a photographer on locations may even help you save money.

What’s the purpose of the photo session?

The purpose of the photos will determine a broad spectrum of requirements; location, equipment, props, and final touch-up. Once again, in this situation, the knowledge of the photographer will come invaluable.

As the client, you may have the purpose of the shoot all figured out. However, you may be oblivious to what goes into achieving your intended purpose. Are the photos going to be used for marketing campaigns? Is it a maternity shoot for a gender reveal? By thinking out the purpose of your images and how you will be using them will dictate what type of shots you need to produce. It will also make the job a lot easier for the photographer, as they will have already conceptualized the project in its entirety.

branding photographer grid

What does the process look like?

Different photographers have different styles. Talk with the brand photographer beforehand, so you can know what their process looks like. Getting into the photographer’s mind will make the entire process enjoyable.

While you’re at it, let the photographer know what you want to be included in the process. Do you have a wish list? Are there things you may be allergic to, which may be the cause of medical emergencies? Photographers have dealt with many clients, who have a diverse range of skill sets, and they are generally accommodating. 

Can the brand photographer help with the concept?

Maybe you’re green in this whole thing. All you want are great photos, but you don’t know how to articulate your concept. Or, perhaps, you have seen certain pictures online and you have fallen in love with the concept, and you want to replicate it.

A savvy brand photographer will help you in fleshing out your concept. The photographer will patiently listen and guide you to make the right choices, not so they can make some money, but so you can get your dream photo shoot. Because they have connections in the industry, brand photographers often refer clients with the right industry players, so that their clients’ concepts and projects may come to life.

Does the brand photographer have social media experience?

For brands that need their social media accounts to be popping like popcorn, you need to ask the brand photographer if they have social media experience. Pictures are not just pictures. Photographers are creatives. The photos can be shot and touched-up in different ways, to convey different messages to different target audiences.

A brand photographer who is adept at how optics play out in the social media space can help the client to come up with a concept – and final product – which will bring the desired effect and returns.

For instance, if you want to introduce leadership on a “ABOUT ME” page, you will want to make sure your leadership’s clothing is complimentary to your brand colors and style. This is because your photos will be used on your website and throughout your social media accounts.

Is there any legal paperwork involved?

Things happen, even in the best laid out plans. A verbal agreement is not good enough. Remember, this is a business relationship. What if one of the parties does not fulfill their obligations? Where do you go? How do you seek recourse?

Many brand photographers run their businesses professionally and will provide a contract, if and when requested; which should be the standard practice.

Legal paperwork protects you in case something happens. Leave nothing to chance. Make sure all the I’s are dotted, and all the T’s are crossed. You will be all the better for it.

Can the brand photographer offer referrals?

Granted, this is business, and the competition may be stiff. But, due to an unforeseen circumstance, if the photographer is unable to keep their end of the commitment, can they refer you to other photographers? In such cases, referring you to another photographer is comparable to a refund.

Are there any permits required for the photoshoot? 

In the photography business, it’s not always a case of pose, say, “cheese” and shoot. There may be instances where special permits may be required to take photos in certain locations.

As your brand photographer has been in the game for a while, their input will be needed. They may also know how to work around such issues, or the right people to approach to get the permits required.

Does the brand photographer have any special offers?

Clients are suckers for special offers. Ask the photographer if there are any special offers or discounts, for say, a certain number of photo sessions. Does the photographer have a corporate social responsibility (CSR) policy, and would that include taking photographs of certain organizations that work with – for instance – underprivileged communities or youth in distress?

You will never know if you don’t ask. And it’s a win-win situation for all parties concerned.

Does the brand photographer have AOB (Any Other Business) you should know about?

You don’t want ugly surprises. Not during the photo shoot. And certainly not after. If there is any other business that the photographer has, which may impact the process or perception, kindly ask them to let you know.

This is not about their personal life, but about business. Are there any federal taxes, which were not in the pricelist, and may add an additional cost? Are there certain restrictions because of, for instance Covid-19, which may affect the photoshoot?

There is no harm in troubleshooting. On the contrary, it’s a healthy exercise for your nerves. You want to make sure that the whole process is as stress-free as possible.

branding photographer photo session

After the photo session, what’s the projected delivery time of the final prints? 

This is not like the old days when pictures took donkey years to be printed. Still, depending on the contractual obligations, the photographer may need to do some work before turning in the final print.

Still, it is good to know the projected turnaround time before the photographer gets down to brass tacks. Knowing this time frame will also help you in finalizing your deadlines related to your social media presence, marketing initiatives, or website development plan, for example.

Are you looking for a branding photographer near you?

Contact Michelle Davina Photography and pick the best service package for your brand. Are you ready to take your brand to the next level? Contact us for more information and book your discovery call here today.

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