How to Hire a Good Professional Freelance Photographer
There are various points our personal and professional lives where we’ll need the services of a good professional freelance photographer. Whether you need wedding snaps for the special day, are celebrating a milestone birthday and need something to refresh your memory after a big night, or need high quality product pics for your website, a professional photographer can help ensure you’ve captured your desired image or moment to the highest of quality.
In fact, freelance photography is so sought after in the fields such as events, ecommerce, product inventory and travel and hospitality, that it makes up 9% of the overall freelance workforce in the UK alone.
However, as with any supply and demand boom there comes the issue with guarantee and quality of results and finding the right freelance photographer for your project. Hiring the right photographer can certainly be challenging given the wide array of talent available in the market today. This is amplified by the fact that there are so many specialisms within the skills of photography ranging from everything from fashion photography to food photography and everything in between.
In this guide we’ll help to you understand the various types of photographer specialisms and what skills you’ll need to look out for and asses in order to hire the right freelance professional photographer. Whether it’s for a large corporate event or just a few snaps of a product for a website, we’ve got you covered.
Getting to grips with photographer specialities
As we’ve already outlined, there are plenty of specialisms within the photographer bracket that need understanding. While we could list all the hundreds (and there are hundreds!) of individual photographer specialisms, here is the low-down on some of the most popular freelance photographer types and what to look for in each:
- Event photographers are experts at capturing highlights and moments from events that can include conferences, concerts, theatre performances, parties and business forums. Expect event photographers to be skilled in the art of portraying the spectacle of events and for being smart at finding space and the right angles at busy, packed events. Conveying the emotion of the lead singer of a rock band or the inspirational atmosphere of the speech of a business leader in the format of a photo requires great skill and focus.
- Product photographers: A picture tells a thousand words, and this resonates so much in the world of ecommerce where people’s impressions of a product are informed so much by the image they see on a product page. A good freelance product photographer will be able to make even the most mundane product look appealing with clever use lighting, filtering and perspective. These images will be likely be used on a lot of marketing channels too so only consider product photographers that can produce images that make you want to click and buy.
- Portrait photographers specialise in taking photos of people, usually to earmark special occasions and memories for display at home or in the office. This can include headshots of individuals, entire family photos, baby or maternity portraits, business portraits as well as graduation photos for display. Keep an eye out for photographers who know how to get a smile out of people and for portraying this in the clearest manner with the correct lighting and effects.
- Wedding photographers do of course fall into the wider bracket of event photographers, though given their demand and specialism certainly deserve their own callout. Wedding photographers should be expected to employ the same laser sharp skills of all event photographers in capturing special moments, though should also have a degree of direction skills in ensuring that photos are taken of differing members of the family amidst all the hustle of a bustle of a wedding.
- Architectural photographers specialise in taking photographs of all manner of buildings, from houses to offices to apartment complexes. They may also be required to take photos of models and renderings of buildings that haven’t been completed yet in order to provide an understanding of concept. Expect architectural photographers to be skilled in the art of capturing buildings to provide a sense of awe, scale and attractiveness.
- Editorial photographers are responsible for shooting posed and focused images for publications across the board, which includes both online and in print publications. This can be anything from glamorous fashion shoots for a bespoke fashion magazine to a feature image of an interview subject for a music magazine. Editorial photographers need to have an in-depth eye for detail and be able to produce enticing hero and header images that entice users to click through and read the content.
- Travel photographers are probably the luckiest of the bunch. They’ll be tasked with producing high-quality photos of travel beaches, cityscapes, hotels, mountains and more to feature in online and print for user consumption with a view to enticing readers to explore these destinations. Arguably one of the more competitive arenas of photography given we’ve all seen shots of the Eiffel Tower from every conceivable angle, be sure to vet travel photographers on their originality and creativity chops.
- Food photographers are behind all those sumptuous, mouth-watering images of food items we see on billboards and online ads that make our stomachs rumble. A high degree of skill goes into the preparation of food photography to ensure that the most appealing image of any given food item possible is taken, and this can means rounds and rounds of preparation of a meal to produce the most visually attractive version possible. Ever wondered why hamburgers looks so much more appealing in ads than they do in real life? You can thank food photographers for that.
Vetting professional freelance photographers
As we’ve alluded to already, there are plenty of freelance photographers out there on the market. This requires taking careful steps to ensure that you’re getting the right talent for your project and ensuring that you’re cutting through the fat. You should by now have an idea as to what to look for in terms of specialisms for your target photographer type, though here are a few pointers on finding a quality resource:
- Ask professional contemporaries and those in your network for recommendations
- View their portfolios in detail, either by their personal website, requesting case studies of previous work done by clients or via their freelancer profile page on websites such as PeoplePerHour
- If they have a website, this is often a strong indication of their care of aspects such as attention to detail and overall image quality
- If it’s within reason, ask for sample photographs or relative draft pieces that are similar to what you’re after
- Look for photographers with the most amount of experience and varied client base
The interview process
Once you’ve got a relative shortlist following the vetting process, it’s time to put some questions to some candidates via an interview process. While there are plenty of ways to approach using a freelance professional photographer, we recommend using a collaborative approach that fosters a healthy environment of call and response and rounds of feedback. Here are a few ideas of some questions you could ask to help you pinpoint your dream freelance further:
- Do you work alone or do you have associates that you work with as well?
- What kind of photography equipment will you be using alongside your camera?
- What challenges do you anticipate for this project?
- What are your processes and what do you need from me to complete your work?
- How long will it take for you to deliver the pictures in either digital or printed format?
- Will you be operating remotely or do you work out of a studio or office?
- How will you be communicating your progress?
- How much preparation will you need to do prior to the shoot?
- What would you need to supply, other than perhaps the products or subjects for the shoot themselves?
These types of questions should enable to understand what it might be like working with any given freelance photographer. Remember, it’s often about collaboration and whether you feel there’ll be a healthy, productive working relationship for both sides.
Once you’ve identified the type of freelance professional photographer needed for your project and have properly vetted candidates’ work and have chatted to them over potentially working together, you should be in a pretty good place to cracking on with your freelance photography goals!