Top Ten Tips for choosing a photographer

As a marketing professional, you’ll need a regular supply of inspirational images to support your campaign activity – whether for your latest brochure, advertising, website or social media. But it’s not always easy to decide who to use to shoot your brand photography. Here we explain our top ten tips for choosing a photographer:

  1. Decide what you want - think carefully about what images you need for your marketing campaign… What is the aim of the project? What sort of style and look do you want the photography to have? Where will the images be used; online only, billboard advertising, exhibition graphics etc. Make some notes and you will have the start of a brief. Start to think about your budget. A good photographer will always be happy to spend time with you explaining the process if you are not sure.

  2. Find the right specialist – research people who specialise in the type of photography you are looking for. A specialist wedding or family portrait photographer is unlikely to also be a specialist marketing or commercial photographer and may not get the best results for your needs. A photographer used to shooting for design and marketing should know how to produce images that create a consistent brand. Look at their portfolio to get an idea of consistent quality and style. The images may be beautiful, but do they also reflect the corporate identity? They may speak a thousand words, but do you think they support the messaging? A good commercial photographer knows how images can work for your business and how they need to visually communicate your brand or message.

  3. Set up a meeting - always try to meet with your photographer to get advice before you write the brief. A good photographer should meet with a prospective client to discuss your ideas, without obligation. Talk to them about your brief; they should be enthusiastic and interested and bring creative ideas and suggestions of their own about how to get the best photography for your project. Get an idea of the rates they charge, how they work, their approach and set-up.

  4. Lighten up - a photographer’s lighting ability is arguably the most important skill needed on any shoot; it’s where your project will succeed or fail. Excellent lighting will greatly enhance your products, or turn a lifestyle shot or portrait into something that jumps off the page and is completely engaging. All photographers who shoot regularly for advertising, design and marketing will have - and use - professional studio lighting for most of their shoots and be able to explain how they’ll use it creatively to give your shots a polished edge.

  5. Develop your brief with the photographer’s input - remember they have the technical and creative skills to help you. Talk to your photographer about costs, they are the experts and will know how to work in the most cost-effective way and how to get the best out of your available budget. To finalise the brief - include all the basic information such as the date, time, location, shoot list, contact details, what the final images will be used for, style, brand guidelines etc. Ask your photographer for help if you need it, they will be as keen as you are to get the brief spot on!

  6. The nitty-gritty of costs – when you are comparing photographer quotes, remember you’re paying for years of photography knowledge as well as advertising and brand experience, training, equipment, investment in a studio, staff (permanent or freelance), marketing, accountancy and other costs of business. Don’t forget to ask how many photos you will get from a shoot and if there is a hard limit. If you’re given an hourly rate, ask how long the shoot is likely to take. Make sure you check on details such as travel expenses and time. If it’s not clear, ask for a full breakdown of how your photographer’s charges are put together.

  7. Ask about post-production - keep in mind that to create polished commercial imagery that showcases your product or service effectively, in many cases, for each day spent shooting an additional day will be required for post-production. Make sure you understand the editing process and what you should expect when the final images are supplied.

  8. Ask for client testimonials – any good photographer should be more than happy to put you in touch with existing or previous clients to find out more about how they felt about the service provided and the resulting images.

  9. Connect the dots - if you’re using a graphic designer or web designer, put them in touch with your photographer. If your new website or brochure has been designed around images of a certain size, the photographer needs to know – do you need wide angle shots, close ups or quirky angles? It will save time and money if your photographer knows how the images will be used in the final design.

  10. Check the Ts and Cs - these should be standard but it’s worth checking and asking questions if you are unsure about anything. Also, make sure they also have the correct insurance.

Enjoy the day of the shoot: it will be hard work but should be fun and when you can use your fabulous new images in your marketing, it will be so rewarding!

If you have any questions about the briefing process or about commercial photography in general, please get in touch for a chat on 07976 320217 or email