4 Red Flags to Watch Out for When Hiring a Brand Photographer

Our friend and brand photographer Nicole Bedard has worked with some big name brands before pivoting to helping small creative businesses just like yours tell their brand story. Here she has wrote for you what you should watch out for when looking for a brand photographer yourself.

4 Red Flags to Watch Out for When Hiring a Brand Photographer

As a creative business owner, picking the perfect brand photographer is super important. 

But it can be tricky! 

Hire the “wrong” photographer, and you could wind up with a bunch of pretty pictures that don't truly reflect your brand's essence. 

Even worse, you might feel lost about how to actually use these images to market your business. In the end, this just eats up your already precious time and money.

So, how can you avoid this headache and common pitfalls? 

Here are four warning signs to look out for when choosing a brand photographer so you can find someone who really gets what your creative business is all about and helps tell your brand's story in a powerful way.

The 4 Brand Photography Warning Signs

1. Limited Delivery and Additional Charges

Brand photography goes beyond delivering a set of images. Instead, your photographer should empower you to use and leverage those visuals effectively. 

Watch out for photographers who only provide final images without additional guidance or charge extra for web-ready permissions. Your brand image package should include comprehensive usage rights and support to maximize the impact of your brand imagery across various platforms. 

2. Per-Person Charges

When it comes to brand photography, be cautious of photographers who charge solely on a per-person basis. This approach can miss the bigger picture of what brand photography is all about.

Brand photography isn't just about individual portraits or headshots. It’s about capturing the essence of your entire team and the narrative of your brand. 

A photographer who charges per person may be more focused on traditional portrait photography rather than a comprehensive brand storytelling approach.

If you’re a solopreneur, a team of 2, 5, or more, that’s considered your business and those are the people you need in the photoshoot– it’s a non-negotiable!

Pro Tip: While not all portrait photographers are brand photographers, all brand photographers can easily take portraits or headshots during your session! Learn more about the difference between portrait and brand photographers here

3. Hourly Rate Only

Photographers who only charge by the hour might be overly focused on the time spent rather than the quality and impact of the images. 

While 15-minute mini-sessions might work for a family photographer, they just don’t make sense in brand photography. Capturing your brand’s visual shouldn’t feel rushed due to a time crunch. It should feel intentional. A photographer who understands brand photography will discuss your needs in detail and devise a plan that aligns with your vision, not just the clock.

Ideally, look for a photographer who offers comprehensive packages. This indicates they understand the holistic nature of brand imagery. Brand photography packages are more likely to cater to the diverse needs of your creative business. Transparency and clarity are key to any successful partnership.

Pro Tip: In addition to hourly rates, be cautious of booking or sitting fees. While you may be expected to put down a deposit to secure your package, these additional booking fees are typical of portrait photography, not brand photography. 

3. No Pre-Shoot Strategy 

To nail your brand's visual impact, careful planning is essential. If a photographer is ready to schedule your shoot without mapping out the details first, that's your cue: alarm bells should be ringing.

Part of this process includes a free Discovery Call. This is your chance to make sure you're both on the same page and ready to work together before booking.

If they skip this step, it could be a sign that they don’t understand your business’s needs. Don't overlook the importance of a conversation that could set the tone for your entire collaboration.

But it doesn’t stop there.

An initial Discovery Call is the bare minimum. You need a true strategy meeting before shoot day.

Taking the time to plan out and prep everything upfront, from the shots you need to where the shoot will happen and how you'll use the images for your business, will set you up for success

My brand photography process always includes a strategy meeting and I also present my clients with a brand board that serves as a visual representation of what we hope to achieve on shoot day! This proactive work ensures your photos truly represent your brand and connect with your audience.

An impactful strategy session makes sure the images match your brand's message, goals, and target audience. It's the first step in creating powerful visuals that support your marketing efforts.

Pro Tip: Planning effectively with your brand photographer often means you’ll need to schedule your photoshoot out at least a month in advance. Be sure you build this timeline into your business plans!

Find Your Brand Photographer in 3 Simple Steps

Now you know the traps to avoid when choosing a brand photographer, let's make it easy. Here are 3 simple steps to go from dreaming about great brand photos to actually meeting and picking the right photographer for you!

1. Build Your List

  • Survey your community. Reach out to fellow business owners in your area or industry who have used a brand photographer. Add their recommendations to your list.
  • Do an online search. Use Google or social media platforms like LinkedIn to search for "Brand Photographer" in your area or state. Look for photographers who specialize in Brand Photography or Personal Brand Photography and add them to your list.
  • Do your homework. Visit each photographer's website. Check if they specialize in Brand Photography or if they also cover other types of photography like weddings or landscapes. Cross off those who aren't focused on brand work.

2. Narrow it Down to 2-3 Options

  • Review portfolios. Look through their portfolio to see if you like their style of work. Ask yourself if their style would suit your business. If not, remove them from your list.
  • Explore their process. See if they outline their process on their website. Look for a "How to work together" section. Ensure they offer a strategy meeting or brand story meeting beyond just a discovery call. If not, it's a red flag.
  • Check social media. Visit their social media profiles to get a sense of their personality and professionalism. Assess if they seem like someone you'd enjoy working with and who can capture your needs effectively.

3. Book a Free Discovery Call

  • Schedule a free discovery call with your top choices. This is your chance to discuss your needs and see if you feel comfortable with them. If the conversation goes well, it's time to book and start the process.
  • Do your prep work! Once you book the call here's some essential information your photographer will need to know:
    • Where will you use these photos? Let your photographer know if they're for your website, social media, print materials, etc. This helps them understand what kind of image formats to use and what equipment to bring.
    • Where's the photo shoot happening? Is it in your studio, workshop, or office? Knowing this means your photographer won't need to look for a location. They'll plan for travel and ask about the light in your space. Sometimes, they might even ask for pictures of the location beforehand.
    • How many people will be in the photos? Tell your photographer if it's just you, your team, or if you need to include mock clients. This helps them plan the session better.

Bringing answers to these questions to your initial Discovery Call will help kickstart your project on a strong note. It ensures both you and your photographer are well-prepared and aligned from the start, making the whole process smoother and more efficient.

Remember, a brand photoshoot doesn’t happen overnight. You'll need to schedule a strategy meeting and then the photoshoot, so plan at least a month in advance.

Pro Tip: Check out my FREE guide, Brand Photography Shoot Timeline for more insights as you prep for your creative brand photoshoot!

Safeguard Your Brand with the Right Photographer

Your brand's visual identity is a powerful asset that requires careful curation and strategic planning. By recognizing these red flags when hiring a brand photographer, you can ensure that you're investing in a partnership that elevates your creative business to new heights. 

Don't settle for anything less than a brand photographer who understands the intricacies of branding and marketing, and who is committed to helping you tell your brand's unique story through captivating imagery.

Plus, I've simplified the process for you to organize all your research and decisions in one convenient location! Download your free PDF, ‘How To Find a Brand Photographer’ today and take a significant step toward finding the right brand photographer for your creative business.

Want to learn more about brand photography for your creative business? Be sure to check out this video and explore my YouTube page where I share creative ideas for branding, expert photography advice, and visual tools for business owners, creatives, and makers.

Nicole Bedard is a Connecticut-based brand photographer, videographer and strategist, who is on a mission to help fellow creatives step out from behind their work, showcase their creative process, and make their branding irresistible to their ideal client so they can feel more confident, connect with more people, and create more of an impact in their industry.

Want to learn more about brand photography? Be sure to follow Nicole on the following platforms:




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