With the best will in the world, and all the right camera kit, getting photos of yourself in a variety of settings is not an easy task. Which is why you need to hire a professional photographer. Historically we would only ever hire a photographer for a wedding or new baby shoot wouldn’t we?
It’s just something we wouldn’t consider, especially when we are all so used to taking hundreds of selfies on a weekly basis. But I got bored of my selfie photos all just being of my head, taken from one angle and that didn’t really tell a story, or paint a picture. I wanted to be able to show more of that online and to have a portfolio of photos I could delve into as and when I needed them.
Despite being on social media for a decade it never occurred to me to hire a photographer until I chatted to Terry Joshi, a professional photographer, at an event and started mulling over the idea of hiring her to take a load of pics of me. It feels terribly self indulgent, spending money on having photographs of yourself taken, but I saw it as more of an investment as me as a professional blogger and that the reward I gained from it would far outweigh the costs.
Terry specialises in portrait photography, and in particular taking photographs of people that they can then use themselves on their own social media, which wasn’t something I had come across before. Mostly I think of photographers just specialising in weddings and that you had to be very careful about use of the photos on line since you didn’t own the copyright to them. Terry has found a niche that I think more people should know about, and think about utilising, letting people use your pics online with no restrictions (though I have chosen to credit Terry when I use them as I think that is the right thing to do).
How to hire a photographer you are comfortable with
I was lucky enough to meet Terry at an event at the beginning of 2019 and liked felt we got on well so was confident Terry would make me feel comfortable. I really don’t like having my photograph taken, especially when it’s spur of the moment stuff. Generally I’ve got breakfast down my front, no make up on and my hair is a mess. My self critiquing often leans more towards self loathing and so in order to not instantly hate every photo produced I needed to know that the photographer would understand not just me but also what it was I wanted.
If you don’t know somebody already, ask around. Ask friends on Facebook if they know of anybody. Or ask on Twitter. Local Facebook groups will always have recommendations and once you have a short list see if you can meet someone for a coffee (make sure you offer to pay for the coffee, freelancers can’t afford to go out for coffee and pay for them all the time on the off chance they’ll get the work) and to have a chat for half an hour. You’ll get a sense of whether or not you can work together fairly quickly.
Write a shot list
The aim of the shoot for me was to create a bank of photographs to use in the first three months of this year so I focussed on this. I went through an awareness calendar picking out all the days I wanted to highlight on social media and wrote them on a list, then buying appropriate props (such as croissants, popcorn, chocolate cake). It made me really think about what I wanted from the shoot, and gave Terry the information too. It meant we weren’t wasting time on the morning and knew right from the outset what it was we wanted to achieve.
Think about outfits
Remember if you are creating a bank of photographs you want to create the illusion they were taken over time. Don’t wear the same outfit in all the shots or your end results will look too samey. Try jeans and then a serious of different shirts or tops. Or dresses that can be whipped off and changed quickly. If you are going to be out and about that feel that could be tricky, try an all black outfit and different scarves or jewellery.
Think about locations
My first set of shots was going to be very much centred around the kitchen because that was the setting for much of my shot list so I didnt have to think too long about this. But I did also want to have some photos that showed I was able to work away from home, as a blogger I would often be out and about. And I didnt really want to shoot my car outside my house to share on social media long term because it makes it too obvious where I live. So I suggested to Terry that there was a really good pub nearby, on a lake that has a lot of light inside, and a large car park that I thought would be perfect. It also meant that I could take Terry out for lunch too as a thank you for spending much of the day with me.
Talk style of finished shots
When the shoot is done do talk through the style of shots you want. Because Terry knew me she knew I didn’t want just standard portraiture but close ups of my hands serving food, holding mugs, putting things in the oven. Do you want your photos to be dark and moody, or do you want them light and airy? Alot will be dictated by the light on the day and the seasons but it is really important to chat beforehand and know that you are both on the same page.
Costs will vary from photographer to photographer but do make sure you understand what is included in the price. Will there be a minimum number of photographs? Will they be edited or the raw pictures? How many hours will your session last? Does that include one location or will it include multiple? Again, it is really important to understand this before you start so you are both comfortable with the brief.
After all being comfortable is what you want to show in your pics so it’s important you feel that way right from the beginning!
All images courtesy of Terry Joshi