What makes a BRAND photographer GOOD (how to choose one for you)

Most people hiring a brand photographer for the 1st time can't tell a “good photographer” from the hole in the wall.

Run through this quick checklist to see if the photog you’re eyeing for your brand shoot has what it takes to meet and exceed your expectations. And yes, you want someone to exceed them – the world is difficult enough for us to settle on anything less harmonious.

(I'm focusing in this blog on "people brands" (personality-based, human-represented), if you're looking for another type of brand photography head here for a list of available niches.)


There's no denying that some of these are self-evident, but I wanted to break things down to eliminate the vague and bring clarity and help you focus. Like this 1st one...

1. They must be GOOD AT PHOTOGRAPHY:

What's that mean??

  • Knows and uses the rules of composition and knows when it’s good to break them


  • Knows and uses the variety of lighting situations, and knows how to manipulate the light to create mood and visual effects


  • Knows how to guide uncomfortable and squirmy people into naturally good looking poses and situations consistently


  • Is proficient with whatever camera and lens gear they bring to use at your shoot


  • Is a professional (read “no drama”). Calm yet fun to be around. Relaxed but keeps things going like clockwork. Got the shot? Onto the next. Portrait photographer sets the rhythm of the shoot and they must be able to carry the energy of everyone involved in the project. They must have that strong will that overcomes whatever obstacles come their way to getting the shot. That's what "professional" means in the world of photography.


Let me explain… not that this person doesn’t have a vision or a style, but… they’re working on building brands for other people - each with their own vision and style. And therefore they have no need (and often capacity) to create their own vision and style, because this won’t be what people hire them for anyway. Who would want to replicate someone else's brand? I hope we're on the same page here!


With solid and repeatable results. Meaning - has a working system and can guarantee success (with your brand photos) AND knows a thing or two about marketing a business. Which is worth repeating, so...


Means - consistently works with people/brands just like you, and knows what you need, why you need it and how to connect your needs to what they do in that magical way that delivers sparkle and engagement with your audience.


Interested in design, graphics, visual aspects of everything. Is into arts, is into design, has a good eye and taste and is aesthetic (means interested in how something looks and feels. An example of someone who is aesthetic might be any visual artist).

6. (And my not so humble opinion is that your photog should be able to) DELIVER IMAGES IN THE STYLE THAT YOUR BRAND NEEDS. Which means that they either have to have that kind of photographic style, or they should be able to deliver in a whole variety of styles - being that they are a pro at executing a visual idea, and don’t just pursue some camera settings that they learned to bang out pretty pictures with. 

7. You’ll prob need them to BE AN ART DIRECTOR for you as well.

(I’m covering what that means in the next post.)

Most people who hire a photog ASS-U-ME that the photog is supposed to play that role - read “they should know exactly what images I need”.  But they have no idea what kind of skillset that entails. So this assumption is wrong on a whole other level of bad – I cannot even begin to shake my head, 'cause my ears will fall off from all the enthusiasm.

Remember that the photog you’re hiring (unless they hit all the points above) is most likely gonna ONLY be great at executing a very specific vision (at best!), but not creating a consistent vision FOR you. Not for the day rate they’re probably charging you anyway. Cause that's what art directors do! 

So take good care of planning this collaboration and decide in advance whether you’re in a place to just get anything at all, or you'd like to invest in a consistent library of visual assets that truly represent your personality, style and a brand message.

Questions? Pop them in! I'm here for it.

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