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5 Tips for Hiring Your Brand Photographer

5 things you'll want to confirm with your brand photographer before hiring.

I know it's wicked overwhelming to find the right photographer for your business. It takes research, back and forth conversation, and TIME you don't have, but remember that while loving their vibe and style is SUPER important, there are a few extra key things you want to make sure exist in their business practices to avoid issues that could end up negatively impacting how you intend to use your images.

Creating beautiful, story-driven images to elevate your brand, is not a job for just anyone with a camera. You need a shooter who really understands what you need as an entrepreneur to help you grow your business and connect with your audience on a deeper level.

Here are a few common oversights you'll want to confirm with your brand photographer before you book:

Specializing | User License | Edit | Credit | Plan

Not sure if these are part of the package offered by the photographer you're interested in? Ask during your initial connection call and check when they send you their brand photography contract - these terms should be listed in it.

1. make sure your photographer specializes in brand photography

While there are plenty of photographers who shoot gorgeous photos and headshots, photographing personal brands requires a different set of skills, that includes understanding how to transform your brand into images. It may be their practice to "show up and shoot," and this type of imagery requires detailed planning in order to create stories that really enhance your business and help you stand out.

You'll need to find ways to truly connect with your audience and help you grow, and that takes time to get to know your values and identify the most impactful ways to share your story. The information you provide is critical to creating unique images that will truly reflect your brand and help people feel like they know, like, and trust you. It’s far more than just a beautiful headshot.

Killer Personal Brand Photographers throw the generic shot list out the window, and instead work with you to strategically transform your brand into a set of images that connect with and engage your audience. These days, standing out online is CHALLENGING! If you’re going to take the time and money to invest in brand photography, and you want to use these images to strengthen your brand while growing your business online, you need to work with someone who specializes in Personal Brand Photography.

White woman messing up her hair with tongue out in London.

2. verify that a commercial user license is included

Most traditional portrait photographers do NOT allow you to use the images commercially. It may not be clear at first, but commercial user rights are likely forbidden in most, if not all, portrait photography contracts (I know it is in my lifestyle portrait contract). This means it's illegal to use the photos for your brand, meaning you cannot use them to grow your business in any way.

If you intend to use the photos in your marketing to build your brand, you MUST have a commercial use license - there's no getting around that. Since you will use these images to spread your wings, grow your business, and increase your income, you should expect to pay more for a branding session than you would for a family photoshoot.

Traditionally, commercial use licenses varied in price based on distribution numbers, the location where the photos are used, how many copies will be distributed, what channels will be used to distribute them, how long you’ll be allowed to use them, and more.

Quite frankly, it’s a complicated mess that’s a pain to track and deal with. This is why working with a modern Personal Brand Photographer is absolutely ideal. Brand photography is a relatively new niche in the photography industry that gives you the commercial use licenses you need, but at one easy price.

  • No confusing tracking.

  • No complicated pricing.

  • One price.

  • Almost unlimited commercial usage.

Because if you have a post go viral, the last thing you want is to get a huge licensing bill from

your photographer, or worse, have to pull it down because you didn’t have a commercial use

license in the first place.

3. confirm that you have the right to edit the images

On the surface, this may not seem like a big deal, right? Photographers will surely deliver quality images - that's to be expected. But what if your branding changes and you'd like to repurpose your images with a different look? Or you want to crop a photo to be the header on a website?

Generally, photographers do NOT give clients the right to edit their photos in any way - they're often hired based on their style and their clients are generally happy receiving the photos as they come, but if you’re using these images to grow your business, you’re likely going to want to edit or modify them on occasion. Whether it’s adding words to the image, optimizing a photo for Pinterest, turning it into a Facebook ad, adding an Instagram filter, or something more drastic, you are going to need the rights to do this.

You'll need unrestricted access to edit the photos however you or your graphic designer needs to in order to grow your business and customize the images for each platform you’re using them on. For the love of your brand, avoid photographers who won’t allow this.

I'll be honest - the initial thought of allowing my images to be edited was very hard for me to wrap my head around, but the more I realized it helps my clients, the more I felt confident in happily granting them the right to do so.

For instance, I delivered the photo on the left, and my client created a version that matches her instagram branding on the right.

4. make sure your photographer does not require credit

We're talking about those pesky, distracting links that attribute your images to the photographer. They are so wonderful and helpful to the person who shot the images but let's face it, you don't want to have your website covered in links to someone else's website. You want your website focused solely on you, your brand, and your offer.

Often times with non-branding photographers, you can use images online if you link to their website and credit them wherever you use the image (or require you to use a watermarked version of the image, which is even worse!)

While all photographers appreciate getting credit for their work, if you have to link to their site on a sales page or in your Facebook ads (or anywhere else that you’re trying to get people to take action), it will lower your conversion rate, and distract from your message.

This is why it’s so important that you hire someone who understands that it’s not always appropriate for you to link to their site, use a watermarked image, or credit you each time you use one of the photos.

Do I appreciate it when I’m credited on posts or pages where it’s appropriate? Abso-freakin'-lutely! But I’d ​never​ want it to hurt your conversion rate or make your content less effective.

Brand photographer at outdoor cafe in Bordeaux, France.

5. confirm that your package includes a detailed planning session

A good personal brand photographer will have a super useful questionnaire that will help you create all the images you need for the content you create for a solid 3 months. Make sure to put time and effort into this part of the process, as well as the planning chat, to make for the most efficient shoot possible!

Our goal during our session together is to capture all you need for at least the next 3 months, making your social media management and content creation much more efficient. We're elevating your image gallery so you’ve got the perfect photos ready and waiting for you each day. No more low-quality selfies!

Whether you need daily images for Instagram, images for blog posts, website banners, Pinterest images, Facebook Ad images, or more, we’ll make sure you have everything you need at your fingertips.

Not only that, but we'll make sure we get a wide variety of different crops, which will be beneficial in different use cases so you can use them anywhere and everywhere from website banners and Facebook ads, to flyers and IG stories.