Last year I decided to hire a photographer to take pictures of me for the blog. It had always been something on my list of things to do, but for some reason I always held back because it didn’t register that I’d at some point have to invest money to make money (as the saying goes). I felt like it was something I’d get to some day, but I began to ask myself what my reasoning was behind putting it off.
A lot of my early blogging years were me thinking that it would be nice to eventually have this blog become a more sustainable income source and therefore require more of my time, but I wanted to do that passively and hope that if I kept writing good content it would happen magically overnight. Once I realized that success is what you make of it, I decided to stop sitting around and actually work.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with a handful of different photographers since then, and each time I’ve learned something different. I wanted to share some tips that I’ve taken away in order to help save you time and money!
Finding a photographer
Ask other bloggers
Being in a large city like Chicago makes it easier to know other bloggers who have worked with photographers. Start by reaching out and asking who they work with or would recommend.
Since the purpose of Instagram is to display images on a visual platform, it only makes sense that savvy photographers will have an account that serves as their portfolio. There are several ways you can go about finding one using Instagram.
— try searching for “(your city name) photographer.” Photographer profiles will typically have this listed in their bio, resulting in search results containing that phrase. As you can see in the photo below, there is also a #chicagophotographer hashtag which is another way to find different accounts. You can also switch over to the “places” tab in search to see what business are listed under the term.
— look at local accounts you follow and see if they tag or mention their photographer in the caption.
Once you’re able to find some accounts, take a look at their work and see if the aesthetic matches what you are going for.
Use Facebook groups
If you’re a member of any Facebook groups where you think this question would be relevant, don’t be afraid to ask if anyone has any recommendations. You can even use the “looking for recommendations” feature on your individual account to see if anyone in your area may be able to help!
Before and during your photoshoot
Figure out what you want
photographer: Sam Parquette
My conceptualization of working with a photographer was that I would play model and they would tell me where to go and what to do. Spoiler alert — this isn’t the case. I blame years of Lifetime movies and TV shows for this. 🙂
Remember that YOU are paying for their services. They may have some ideas, but you need to figure out what kind of shots YOU want for your brand. Some examples are:
- lifestyle (regular clothes)
- shots of objects (e.g., your phone, laptop, generic atmosphere shots, etc)
It may take some time to figure these things out. I went into my first shoot completely unprepared and basically muttered “what should I do now?” over and over. With each subsequent shoot I planned beforehand and figured out what images I could generically use as well as which ones would be good for upcoming post ideas.
A good idea is to come prepared with a few different outfits, that way you get some variety and you’re not stuck looking the same in every photo. This allows you to use the images for different things at different times.
photographer: Jess Norby
Take some time to practice your poses in the mirror. It may sound silly, but it’s a good way for you to see how things may turn out.
I also took to Instagram to get some inspiration for lifestyle and fitness shots. See what images turn out well with other people and try to make them your own. Don’t just copy someone else and please don’t put up anymore overhead, bare leg, socks, and coffee in a bed. You know what I’m talking about.
photographer: Alex Heidner
The key to an effective photoshoot is communication. Make sure your photographer knows what you want so that everyone’s expectations are the same. Communicate before the shoot, during the shoot, and after the shoot. It’s your time and your money, so ensure that you’re getting everything you paid for.
Ask for feedback during the shoot. Ask to see what the images are looking like on the camera. If you and your photographer don’t have the same understanding of what you want, it’ll take longer and you’ll likely end up disappointed.
- The photographers I’ve worked with usually take about a week to get photos back to you. This differs for each person, so make sure to ask what the turnaround time will be.
- On average, I pay about $150 for about two hours of time and as many good photos we get out of that shoot. The more efficient you are with your time and the more prepared you are, the more good images you’ll get.
- That being said, there are other ways to approach payment. See if you are able to work for an exchange, that is, something like advertising on their behalf or referring clients to them for a lower cost. If you have a friend with a DSLR, you can always take turns photographing each other for free!
If you’re in the Chicago area, here are some photographers I’ve worked with or know of in the city:
- Alexandra Heidner
- Samantha Parquette
- Kristen Mendiola
- Melissa Ferrara (Iron & Honey)
- Julie Kennedy
- Ali Stone
Obviously there are tons more, but I love the work of all of these ladies. If you have any other ones, leave them in the comments!
Investing in professional images that I can use on social media and in blog posts has made a tremendous difference not only in how I regard this space, but how companies and brands do as well. Good photography makes SUCH a big difference and if this is something you’ve been considering, make sure to budget some funds for it. It’s well worth the price in my opinion.
If there are any other questions you have that I didn’t address in this post, shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave them in the comments!