These days great photography is a must for all businesses. Costumers are visually educated and can tell apart great from "good enough" photos. They immediately associate value and quality with a business that shows original and high quality images. It's easy to hire your friends' friend who got a nice DSLR camera and shoots beautiful landscapes on his vacations. But do they have experience on how to shoot your hand-made scarfs, have they thought about what your costumers need to see to get excited about your product? Most likely not!
So, how do you hire the right photographer for the job? My 5 tips are below. If you're wanting to try to take your own product photos, see my how-to guide for how to take your own product photos at home, and watch my class here on Tin Shingle to see inside my studio for How to Take Amazing Product Photos at Home with a Cardboard Lightbox.
Choose a Specialists
Professional photographers don't shoot everything. They usually specialize in a certain subject or style. For example portrait, interior, fashion, or product photography. As a professional product photographer I know what it takes to style a pair of earrings, what backgourds to choose, how to avoid unwanted reflections and how to bring them to life on set. I definately am not the one to hire if you are looking for an edgy fashion shoot.
Research at least 10 photographers with the specialty you need in your location. Look at their websites and compare their styles, which one would be the best fit for your product or service? Which one comes closest to the style you imagine your images to look like. The more you know what your needs are the easier it will be for you to find the right photographer.
Once you have identified 3-5 quality photographers contact them and start a conversation about your project. Maybe you want to meet them in person to see which personality and working style fits you best. Ideally you'll form a long-term relationship with your photographer so it's worth investing a bit of time in the beginning to see if you are a good match.
Estimates, Contracts and Releases
Every professional photographer should ask you a lot of questions to clarify the project scope. They will give you a proper estimate and contract that will outline the way you work together, what the costs are and what your rights to the images are. Professional photographers understand copyright laws and how to license the images to you so both of you are protected. They also know when Model and Property Releases are required. As always, before you sign the contract make sure you fully understand it and pay attention to the cancellation and postponement clauses.
Team and Resources
Do they have access to the team you need? They might just need an assistant to set-up lights on a table-top shoot but larger shoots might require a producer, food stylists, prop stylists, models, a studio etc. How about retouchers? Professionals have a library of trusted and reliable resources to call.
Equipment and Insurance
Nobody wants to think about this but make sure that your photographer has back-up equipment and liability insurance in case things go wrong.