If you read my last blog on social media branding, then you’ll know that hiring a personal branding photographer is going to be a huge asset for your business.
Whether you need photos of yourself or your product, a photographer who works specifically for entrepreneurs is what you want to look into.
When I started Stratus Branding, I knew that I wanted to offer photography services to my clients. While finding your voice and your niche within your industry is Step 1 in Building Your Own Business, having content for social media is going to be your next hurdle.
It’s not something most entrepreneurs think about, either. When you hit the ground running with your business, you have your eyes set on leads, advertising, and the end goal (making money).
Fortunately, social media provides us with a free marketing platform in which we can get those leads and (later) those sales. The problem is the competition.
And there is a ton of competition.
What will help sell your business is your personal brand and the content that goes with it. And in this new age of technology, most consumers aren’t willing to accept content that isn’t polished and produced with thought and care.
That’s when a personal branding photographer will become your greatest investment. And it’s why I offer a premium personal branding photoshoot for my Stratus clients that are customized for your goals and strategy.
You can always vet branding photographers for yourself. Here’s the strategy I personally use in selecting branding photographers for my business. This is what I recommend for anyone who is on their way to work with a professional photographer.
10. Gather Reference Photos
If you already have your personal brand down pat, then you probably have an idea of the type of aesthetic and content you will be advertising. Before working with your photographer, make sure you know what style of photography you like best and what works with your type of business.
Gathering reference photos in the style of photography you like or are expecting will be a huge help in the overall process. You will want to decide ahead of time what poses you think will look best and what angles you want to hit. Some examples of photography angels are:
9. Research Local Branding Photographers
The next thing I do after finding reference photos is research local branding photographers.
There’s a slight difference between a portrait photographer and a personal branding photographer. A portrait photographer will usually try to capture your essence or personality through close up shots, typically in a studio session with lights. A personal branding photographer, on the other hand, will try to capture more organic photos of you.
These sessions are a bit more care-free and less formal than portrait photography. However, a personal branding photographer should still get some portrait shots that you can use across your social media profiles.
When researching local photographers, I do what comes naturally for everyone — I read the reviews. I always take these with a grain of salt, though. People are more inclined to leave reviews when they’re upset, rather than when they have a great experience.
The thing that matters the most to me in my research of photographers is their portfolio. Do they only have portrait photographs? Do they have experience working outdoor photoshoots?
If their portfolio is limited or not what I have in mind for a personal branding photoshoot, I simply move on to the next one.
8. Evaluate Their Social Media Presence
Like any business, a personal branding photographer’s social media presence will say a lot about their work ethic.
If they are willing to take the time to increase their social presence, I’m willing to bet that they will not only be professional, but knowledgeable about their craft as well.
I try to vet my photographers by evaluating their social media. It usually showcases their portfolio, and it also gives me an idea of what their personality is like.
If they provide tips on how to pose or how they edit, they get bonus points. I love working with photographers who are willing to share their expertise.
Also, if you send them a DM and they’re quick to respond to inquiries/prices without giving you the runaround, it’s a pretty good sign that they’re a professional.
7. Interview Your Personal Branding Photographer
In order to ensure that my business only works with the best (and most experienced) personal branding photographers, an interview is vital.
Once I have a list of photographers lined up, I invite them for an interview. Even if you’re not hiring a photographer for a business like mine, it’s still important that you interview them like you would any job position. Especially since your goal should be to find a photographer that you can keep using. You’ll probably have to meet at least once a quarter in order to keep generating new content.
I recommend interviewing at least 3 to 5 photographers when you’re first getting started. Trust me when I say that their portfolio should not be the only deciding factor in working with a professional photographer.
An in-person or phone interview will help you get a feel for your potential photographer’s personality and whether or not you will mesh well together. After all, you want to feel comfortable with the person taking photos of you!
Here is a list of essential starter questions that I ask during the interview:
- How long have you been a photographer?
- What’s your rate?
- What’s your favorite type of photo to shoot?
- What’s your ideal shooting location?
- Do you prefer reference photos ahead of time?
- What’s your availability like?
- Can you commit to 1 photoshoot per quarter/month?
- Do you have a website or any place I can go to for references or reviews?
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6. Ask About Their Process
If the interviewee answers favorably to the above questions, I usually go on to my next set of inquiries. This is where I learn all about the photographers’ personal process (they’re all different).
I always ask if they can give my clients tips on how to pose. I’m a trained model/actress, but I know most people are not comfortable in front of the camera. My photographers have to be willing to guide the subject in order to make them feel comfortable and to ensure the shoot goes down without a hitch.
Another aspect you want to think about is how they handle working in public. My company favors outdoor photoshoots, which means my photographers have to know how to work around crowded LA streets.
I also make sure I ask how long their photoshoots take (and if they charge by the hour!). Typically a photoshoot will be around 2 hours, but depending on how many photos you need, it can take an entire day.
In general, you just want to make sure you ask them what their overall process is. Will they pick the first location? Do they like to get portrait shots done first and then outdoor shots? Do they work with natural light, and if so, do they like to shoot at a specific time of day? The most minute details can be of importance later on in your relationship with this photographer.
5. Ask About Equipment
Anyone can claim to be a photographer these days. Even with a detailed social media presence and a professional portfolio, you still want to make sure that you are working with the real deal— and not just an expert iPhone user!
Don’t be afraid to ask your photographer what type one equipment they use. Even if you don’t know a thing about photography, their answers can be very telling.
You want to be sure that your personal branding photographer will, at the very least, bring some type of DSLR. You can even ask if they will be using multiple cameras, and then do your own research on them later. This will help you get a feel on their level of expertise as well as the photo quality for your personal branding photos.
Lighting equipment and editing software will also help you get a feel for how your photographer works. Most photos get a light edit, so you want to make sure they are as fluent in editing as they are in taking photos.
4. Will Your Personal Branding Photographer Edit Your Photos?
Speaking of editing, you need to ask your photographer if and how they will be editing your photos. Some photographers ask for additional compensation for editing, while others include it in their packaged price.
For my Stratus Branding clients, we have it worked out so that our clients get photoshoot styling, coordination, and strategy along with professional retouching on 6 of their photos. You should expect nothing less from any premium personal branding photoshoot.
If they do offer to edit, ask about their process, and again, what type of software these use. Photoshop is the staple that most photographers use, so make sure to do your research if they use alternative systems.
If you have special editing requests, communicate this to your photographer right away. Ask them if these requests are subject to additional pricing and make sure you get these numbers in writing prior to your photoshoot.
3. Talk About Your Budget
Another tip on selecting a personal branding photographer is to talk about your budget. You should be candid about how much you are willing to spend. You should also be candid about what you expect from your session.
You will need to decide how many final photos you need. This will help you dictate how often you will be working with your photographer, too. If you don’t have time for a monthly photoshoot, make it so that you meet once per quarter.
Quarterly photoshoots work best if you plan on getting multiple shots in different locations and in different outfits. This works well if you want a steady flow of unique photographs. However, keep in mind that the cost will increase if you plan on meeting less but still need a decent chunk of photos. If this is the case, try asking your photographer about payment options or plans.
2. The Final Product
I know this sounds like a long process, but it only needs to be done once if you find the right person to work with. If all seems well with your selected photographer, the last thing you need to ask is about the final product.
You should always ask how many final photos you will be receiving after your photoshoot. You can negotiate to receive a set amount of edited photos and purchase the rest in raw format. I personally recommend having all of your photos edited by the same person, but if you’re handy in PhotoShop, then purchasing the raw images may be beneficial for you.
You also need to decide whether you only need photos in digital format or if you need the photos formatted for printing (the files should be different based on how you plan on using your photos).
One final aspect that most don’t consider is whether or not your photographer retains the rights to the photos. If they do, they are free to use your photos for their own marketing or social media accounts. Typically, the photographer maintains the rights to their work, but you can always discuss this prior to hiring them.
1. Make Sure You Set a Deadline
And finally, the main thing I make clear with my personal branding photographers is the deadline. Many photographers work freelance, which means they probably have a streamline of clients they have to tend to. You also want to make them aware of any deadlines that you have. Your photographer should be able to give you an estimated completion date based on how many photos you have purchased and how many you need edited.
Once you are both on the same page, make sure to include a deadline date in your contract (yes, you should have a contract)! If you’ve followed all of my advice thus far, then chances are, you’ve chosen your ideal photographer. If you’ve done your research, asked enough questions, and have a contract in place, you can trust that you’ve selected the right personal branding photographer who will stick to your agreed-upon deadline.