If you’re thinking of outsourcing your photography work, this piece is for you. I’ve written about why I don’t think freelance marketplaces are great for creatives but I haven’t focused specifically on photography yet. I’m writing this with a dual perspective: as someone who advises on marketing and as a photographer.

One of the first steps in hiring any creative is figuring out what you want from them. Do you need a dozen shots of your coffee bags (product photography) or do you need images of people enjoying your coffee (lifestyle photography)? Once you have that figured out, then it’s time to decide if you need additional specializations. These could include areas like coffee only, food and beverages, restaurants, or even styled outdoors (all those camping and coffee photos).

Check their style

Once you’ve figured out some of your requirements, checking their style is next. Have the photos that you’re envisioning been created in some way already by them? Some people are excellent at dark and moody photos while others prefer a minimalist look. When you hire a photographer, you’re hiring them for their expertise and their style. Don’t hire someone just because they’re your friend. If their style doesn’t fit yours, then you’ll be unsatisfied with the final work.

Pull inspirations

Whether you’re working with someone who will put together the shot list or you have your own already, you still need a way to convey the type and style of images you want. I know I mentioned checking their style; however, some photographers have multiple styles. If you have example images of what the overall look and feel you’re going for, it’ll give the photographer a good idea if you’re a good fit or not.

Set your expectations

Photography can be expensive. When you pay a photographer, you’re not just paying them for the final photos but also for their time spent on the photoshoot, editing, equipment used or rented, and their general expertise in the matter. In the end, you should receive a set of fully edited images in the predetermined style. If you don’t like the photos, it is better to discuss this with the photographer than it is to ask for the originals.

As an aside, RAW vs jpeg as a debate is something to understand, especially if your photographer shoots in RAW and you wonder why you can’t have the originals.

Because not only does the original set include dozens of very similar photos (with one chosen as the final) but if someone shoots in a RAW format, each file is gigantic. The file size isn’t just large but the RAW by itself would look boring and washed out before the edits are made. It does not mean that it was bad photography. RAW files give the editor the ability to make adjustments without compromising the quality.

To put it in a different perspective, you wouldn’t ask an illustrator for all of the drafts they drew up and threw away, you would want the final version.

I hope these tips help you in your next search for a photographer.