Choosing a photographer can be difficult, and the stakes are much higher when you’re considering spending a good chunk of your business marketing budget to hire a brand photographer. Part of the difficulty is due to the fact that there are dozens of photographers on almost every street corner. The barrier for entry into photography is pretty low, and it often seems like everyone who buys a nice camera suddenly thinks they’re a professional.
So how do you cut through the noise of an over-saturated photography market and find not just a good photographer but an excellent brand photographer? Here’s a list of some quick tips to help you discover a photographer worth your investment.
An Excellent Brand Photographer Specializes in Brand Photography
The very first and most important criteria you should look for in a great photographer is finding one who specializes in brand photography. Let’s be honest, photography can be a difficult business, so it’s not uncommon for photographers to offer a wide array of service types, including weddings, portraits, and senior photos. There’s nothing wrong with this, and even a great brand photographer is likely willing to take those types of photoshoots, and that’s fine.
You need to look for a photographer whose primary offering is brand photography, not simply a photographer who has made brand photography yet another add-on to their business offerings.
An Excellent Brand Photographer Takes Time to Learn About You and Your Business
Most photographers in today’s marketplace don’t own a studio and almost never meet their clients face-to-face until time for the photoshoot. In these cases all communication between the photographer and their clients takes place via a short phone consultation and a series of emails leading up to the photoshoot. There’s nothing wrong with this practice for portrait and family photography, but it’s simply inadequate for brand photography.
A great brand photographer is going to include a face-to-face consultation and planning meeting with you as part of their service. These planning meetings should be an hour long or more, or be broken up into a series of planning sessions where you and the photographer sit down and brainstorm how to best tell your brand’s story with imagery. In addition, a brand photographer who goes above and beyond for you is one who will want to shadow you and observe how you go about your business to not only be better prepared to take your brand photos from a technical aspect but it also gives them more ideas on how to best capture you and your business.
An Excellent Brand Photographer Learns How You Want to Use Your Branding Photos
Related to learning about you and your business, a great brand photographer takes the time to discover how you want to use your photos. There’s no sense in wasting your time taking a full array of catalog-style images if you have no need or intention of using those images. Part of the planning process is taking the time to listen to your marketing plans, offer advice on how the photographer can enhance those plans, and then putting together a shoot list to capture images that best suit those plans.
If you’re speaking with a photographer and they don’t seem to see the need to take this time with you and determine your marketing strategy, then you need to move on to another photographer who understands how to truly help you with your branding efforts.
An Excellent Brand Photographer Offers More than Just Photography
While there are a lot of photographers out there in the marketplace, you’ll probably discover that there are not that many who specialize in brand photography. Among those that do specialize, take your scrutiny up a notch or two and look for photographers who offer more than just photography. This is the biggest difference between a good and a great brand photographer. Why?
An excellent brand photographer is who who will help you strategize to define and refine your brand as necessary for maximum results. As your photographer takes time to learn about you, your brand, and your marketing plans they will begin to offer advice on how to make purposeful, incremental changes to your plans to position you for making the most of your brand photography shoot. Admittedly, not all photographers have the skills and experience to help evaluate your brand logo, fonts, colors, or scheduling strategy, but one who can do those things will be worth more than what you end up paying them.
Download your free Branding Starter Kit to help you understand your brand’s foundations, define and develop your brand, and refine your brand experience.
An Excellent Brand Photographer Understands How to Create Images for Social Media
In addition to knowing how to take beautiful images and the awareness of how to approach capturing images suitable for branding, your brand photographer must know how to take images that will work on your preferred social media channels. This means not only capturing the original photo in a way that will fit your chosen platforms appropriately, but also editing and cropping those photos according to your needs and plans.
For instance, if you want photos where you have ample space to insert text overlays for your marketing efforts, then the photographer needs to be aware and deliver those photos. Or, if your primary channel for social media marketing is Instagram then your photographer needs to capture images that can be appropriately cropped into squares for that platform. Remember, one of the reasons you’re considering brand photography is to save you time, so don’t accept photography that will end up taking you hours to edit for your needs.
An Excellent Brand Photographer Always Includes Digital Images in Their Packages
One of the most important ways that brand photography differs from almost all other forms of photography is that a great brand photographer will always include high-resolution digital images in their brand photography packages. You see, when it comes to wedding, family, and portrait photography the largest portion of a photographer’s profit is from the sale of prints and canvases. This means that it’s typical for a photographer to not include digital files in their packages to encourage purchases of physical product.
However, for brand photography, one of the primary purposes of hiring a photographer is to produce images suitable for use in social media and visual content marketing—which necessitates the photographer offering digital images. It seems like a no-brainer, but a great brand photographer will include delivery of digital files in their packages and won’t make such delivery an up-sell or additional fee.
An Excellent Brand Photographer Does NOT Require Credit When You Use Your Branding Photos
Most professional photographers, while they will not deliver high-resolution digital files to their clients, they will offer low- to medium-resolution images suitable for sharing on social media. In fact, a savvy photographer will encourage social media sharing and require the clients give credit during such shares—typically by tagging the photographer or including a link to the photographer’s website. This helps build trust and referrals among the client’s friends and drives future sales.
For the sake of brand photography, an excellent brand photographer will never require such credit be given. Yes, they’ll be extremely grateful for any and all referrals and links you give out—and I highly encourage you to do your best to flood them with referrals if you loved their work—but a brand photographer should never make it a requirement. Brand photography is all about building your business, not their own.
An Excellent Brand Photographer Gives You Permission to Edit Your Branding Photos
Another common practice among photographers is to include agreements against clients editing the photos as part of their general contract. Why? Because for a photographer, their style of photography is part of the their brand, so they can be protective of their brand image. As you’ve seen above, a professional photographer requires credit when clients post images on social media. But if the image has been edited in an undesirable manner—such as adding an Instagram-style filter—they likely won’t want their name and brand attached to the photo because it no longer accurately reflects their brand image.
The way brand photography is vastly different is that a great brand photographer will always include editing rights with your photos. In this case their work is about your brand not their own. You need complete editing rights to make each and every photo fits the brand image and style you desire.
An Excellent Brand Photographer Includes a Commercial Use License with Your Branding Photos
Finally, a great brand photographer will always include a Commercial Use License for the photos they deliver to you. As above, it is common practice for photographers to limit such usage of their photography because most of the time their photos are meant for private use. In the case of brand photography, you need complete rights to use your photos to promote your business and sell your products. As with some of the points above, inclusion of this type of license seems obvious, but there are photographers who will continue to limit your use of the photos and make you pay more for increased usage rights.
Having said this, do be aware that commercial usage rights are one of the reasons why you’ll pay more for a brand photography shoot when compared to other types of photography. Not only will a great photographer be spending a lot of time beyond simply taking your photos, but will be including these increased rights. Also, be aware that your photographer still retains full copyright ownership of the photos and are free to use them for their own marketing. If you want exclusive rights to the photos, then you should expect to pay an additional premium. In addition, a Commercial Use License also does not typically include the rights to use images on physical products, nor does it give you the right to resell the photos.