12 Tips for Booking a Professional Photographer

June 17th, 2014

Richard Gill

Using a professional photographer can be expensive but if you follow these simple guidelines you will get the most of out of your professional shoot. And you will receive a portfolio of photographs that you can use in all your marketing material.  As Red Adair once said “If you think it is expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

So now you have decided to get some professional photographs taken how should you go about hiring a professional.  Here is our simple check list

Before you Book

1. Research potential photographers.  Although photographers can usually take a good photo of pretty much anything they all tend to specialise.  At Great Impressions we specialise in commercial and industrial photography and do lots of work in the property sector.  So we would not be an ideal choice if you are looking for a portrait shoot of mothers and babies.  So find some photographers who specialise in the subject you want photographing and take a look at their work.  You will then be able to shortlist the ones who have the style you prefer.  It is a good idea to shortlist 2 photographers in case the one you want is not available at the time of the shoot.

2. Create a scrapbook of photos you like.  You can then use this to brief your chosen photographer.  Trawl through magazines and websites  to find the images you like, cut them out and save them.  A quick and easy way to do this is to use a Pinterest board, as you can easily share this with your photographer, customers or colleagues.

3. List the photos you need.  If you have already created your scrapbook you should have a good idea of the photos you want.  It’s a good idea to write this down as you can use it when you brief the photographer.  Think about where the photos will be used when creating this list see point 5 below.  This list should contain the photos you must have.  On the actual shooting day you will probably see some additional shots just because you are there and will see things differently.

4. Define your “house style”.  The photographs you use need to fit in with the rest of your marketing material so it is a good idea to define the look you want.  For example if you run an hotel you will want all the photos of the rooms to be taken in the same way.  The bedroom curtains open,  and the view visible through the window, the beside lights on, the beds to made neat and tidy and so on.

5. Decide where you are going to use the photos. These days we use photos in lots of different media and it is likely that you will use them for printed material, websites and social media.  Photos that are used in printed material and on websites will have to fit that format.  They are also likely to be in circulation for much longer, i.e. until you update a website or reprint a brochure.  Some shapes, landscape rather than portrait, may suit your website better than others.  For social media, each platform requires different optimum sizes, you can get a copy of our guide to social media image sizes  by just sending us an email and will forward one by return.  Social media images tend to be short-lived and you may also want to include quotes or text over the image and so you need to make sure there is space to do this.  You might also want to make these more humorous.

6. Shortlist the venue or location.  If you are having photos taken at an external site, you need to think about possible venues that suit you and your photographer.  It’s a good idea to scout these out in advance so you can look out for possible pitfalls.  You will generally want somewhere quiet, so no one photobombs your location! Typically  you will want an un-cluttered backgrounds and good light.  If you  review potential sites in advance you can discuss these with your photographer and get his input before selecting the final spot.

On the day

1. Ask the photographer for suggestions.  When you meet up for the photo shoot, walk round your chosen venue and ask the photographer for any comments.  Chances are they will see somethings that you don’t and will have some good ideas for creative shots that you may have not have thought about.  Add these to your list of photos to be taken.

2. Check the location.  Unless you are at a studio have a good look round the location.  Look for any little detail that might spoil your shots. For example if you are photographing rooms, lookout  for cobwebs in hard to reach areas, untidy cables from electrical appliances of light fittings or any other unsightly items in the room.  Don’t be scared to move furniture or take items out of a room to make it look better.

3. Check the weather forecast.  If you have booked an outdoor photo session you may have been keeping an eye on the weather but it is a good idea to check it on the day.  If you know that the weather is likely to change during the day you can plan which photos should be taken at which time.  If it is a dull morning and the sun is going to come out in the afternoon, and you are photographing a house you would take the internal shots in the morning and the externals in the afternoon.

4. Make sure everything is properly prepared for photographing.  It is surprising what shows up in a photograph, especially when they are used in larger sizes for brochures or advertisements.  So make sure everything is well cleaned and dusted.  Obvious stuff really but you can easily get caught out, especially when doing close up product photos.

5. Brief the photographer.  Go through the list of photographs you prepared with the photographer and explain any key points.  Make sure the photographer knows which photos are for social media and which for other purposes so that the formats are correct.  Go through the details of your “house style” and if you want to emphasize a particular look show examples of photos from your scrap book or Pinterest board.

6.  Agree a deadline for receiving the finished photos.  Set a realistic timescale for getting the photos back and agree how they should be delivered.  Do you want them sent electronically or put on to a CD/DVD?  Agree what resolution you need for each media type and make sure you understand the copyright terms and their implications.

If you follow the above you should then have  a great day shooting photos and have more time to be creative and this may mean you get the extra hero shots that really make you stand out from the crowd.

Here’s a summary: