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HIRING A PHOTOGRAPHER 101: UNDERSTANDING THE CREATIVE PROCESS & TEAMS

November 16, 2016
November 16, 2016

This article is part one in a series of exclusive posts for BeautyMatter, by professional photographer Wendy Hope.

There comes a time when a brand begins to understand the need for advertising, and the benefits it brings to their growth and longevity in a fiercely competitive market. With strategic social media now a permanent part of the landscape of advertising, we’re inundated with imagery. How can that translate into dollars for your brand? I would love to share some of the really important elements to consider when hiring a photographer.

But first, let me introduce myself—I’m Wendy Hope, an award-winning photographer with over 15 years’ experience in this industry. I currently specialize in beauty & cosmetics although my background is celebrity-driven advertising with fashion & retail brands. I’ve recently shot a celebrity campaign for Sinful Colors (releases January 2017) as well as a handful of smaller emerging brands.

Photographers have unique skills and training which are imperative in creating compelling and beautiful imagery; however, it is important to consider more than their body of work alone. A photographer’s professional presentation should be considered, as all of the following can show a higher level of status and give even more insight into their personal aesthetic:

  • website
  • social media engagement
  • print and online portfolios
  • personal references
  • awards and achievements

I’ve been asked by friends and colleagues to represent photographers as an agent, and I have been asked by students to teach the business of photography. It’s a complicated profession, and although I’m well seasoned with experience, I continually run into many of the same questions and concerns from clients. Some of them trickle down from corporate decision makers. Others, from emerging brands that simply don’t know the complexity, time, and costs involved with a photo shoot. So, I’m hoping this series will help clarify some confusion.

Here are the first two steps that can shed light on the process and journey of hiring an experienced professional photographer.

STEP 1: INQUIRE ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHER’S EXPERIENCE, CREATIVE PROCESS (CONCEPT DEVELOPMENT AND LIGHTING), AND THE CREATIVE TEAMS THEY WORK WITH.

Having a wide range of technical skills in lighting and not depending on assistants to light for your photographer separates the experienced photographer from the amateurs. Make sure your photographer knows their own lighting.

STEP 2: UNDERSTAND WHO’S WHO AND WHAT THEIR ROLES ARE.

A creative team is comprised of a make-up artist, hair stylist, nail tech (manicurist), wardrobe and/or prop stylist, and set designer. Each is well equipped with their own skill set and command their own production expenses, and each team will bring a unique look and feel to the shoot.

Photographers’ assistants are there to set up and change lighting as needed and replace a broken power pack quickly, and have a variety of highly technical skills; the digital technician manages captures and problem solves when technical issues arise. Both are highly trained and a necessary part of the team. A production assistant (PA) is very important on larger shoots to fill in the gaps and alleviate responsibilities from the key players to ensure smooth sailing on a production.

Understanding the various roles and relationships in the process is important because they all work together in executing the creative direction and ultimate vision of the shoot. Skill, speed, accuracy, and experience are imperative to a successful collaboration.

These are the first things to consider as you’re deciding if a photographer is going to be a valuable creative resource and will contribute to the elevation of your brand.

Part two of this series will explore a photographer’s responsibilities, and cost.

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