It goes without saying that beautiful photography is essential for content creators. Wondering how to find a photographer for your blog? You’ve come to the right place! If you hope to succeed in this competitive space and/or collaborate with brands you need compelling visuals. After all, blogs read like college textbooks without the! And Instagram? It’s all about the imagery…
So, what’s a blogger with limited (or zero) knowledge of photography to do? You could find yourself an “Instagram husband/boyfriend” to snap pics when you need them (good luck with that), bug your friends for help, or become besties with your tripod. However, those who are truly serious about content creation should consider working photographer, even if just for a short time. Here’s a look at how to find a photographer for your blog + WHY you should consider it.
Someone recently asked me to share the one thing that’s been most helpful in building a personal brand and growing my blog/social media channels. The truth? It’s not a “thing.” It’s a person, my go-to photographer Kelly McPhail of Kelly McPhail Photography! But she’s much more than that. I consider her a creative partner and dear friend. We’ve grown our skills (and businesses) together. And it all started with a simple Instagram DM!
Now, I know what you are thinking… I don’t have the budget to hire a photographer! Neither did I, so keep reading. There are strategies that can keep costs down while also ensuring the blogger/photographer relationship remains mutually beneficial. But first, before we talk about how to find a photographer for your blog, let’s discuss why you should.
Not only can a professional photographer provide creative and dynamic images, they are also fast. When I shoot by myself or with my husband (who is not an “Instagram Hubby” and doesn’t particularly enjoy fashion photography), I might be able to photograph one or two outfits/concepts at a time. When I work with Kelly, I can batch my content, shooting 5+ looks in an hour. I walk away with dozens of amazing images to choose from. Compare that to the 2-3 good shots I might get with my tripod.
To me, this is the most important benefit. When I started working with Kelly, I didn’t even know a camera needed a lens. Super embarrassing! However, by watching her closely and asking a lot of questions, I now feel pretty confident with a camera. She (and YouTube tutorials) helped me master Adobe Lightroom and grow my knowledge about photography. I went from relying upon lackluster cell phone pics to having people think the photos I take myself are professionally done.
For example, the images of the pink dress above are all tripod shots. Some photographers offer mentorship sessions or training courses. If you begin working with a pro and love their work, ask them about this! Their courses are likely geared for other photographers, but bloggers could also benefit from the training. The more you can learn about photography the better.
If you hope to make content creation your business, it’s not only a good idea to learn how to find a photographer for your blog—it’s imperative. Why? Brands aren’t just interested in purchasing “influence” from their collaborators, they want their content too! Increasingly, businesses and brands expect their creative partners to be able to produce compelling, high quality photos they can repurpose for their own use. I blogged for two years before I started consistently landing paid work. What changed? The quality of my photos.
My content looked much more professional after I began working with a photographer and spending significant time teaching myself about photography. Many of the editing techniques I used on the campaign above (for a yoga wheel) were tactics I learned from Kelly.
First, do not ask a photographer to work for free. You need to remember that most professional (or aspiring) photographers have invested significant time/money into their equipment and learning their art. Unless you have a Kardashian-level following, offering to “tag them in an Instagram post” isn’t enough incentive for a professional to volunteer their services.
Don’t have much of a budget for photography? Think hard about your skill set. Is there something you could offer that might be useful to a photographer? For example, do you have graphic design skills, a knack for SEO? Are you a skilled writer? Perhaps they can use your skills in exchange for a session. Most photographers run their own blogs to improve their Google search rankings.
You could write a blog post featuring them to help them generate back links or ghost write a blog post for their website. Have video skills? Maybe they are looking for a promotional video? Photographers who are just beginning their portfolios might need models willing to experiment with different posing/editing styles.
When you first start figuring out how to find a photographer for your blog, it’s important to be realistic. Reach out to new photographers rather than those who are already super established in your area. College-aged photographers are a great place to start. I’ll be frank… That amazing photographer in your area who shoots all the high society weddings… probably won’t reply to your email. They’re not trying to be impolite, they just don’t have time for you. Keep in mind those type of photographers command upwards of $500 if not $1,000 or more per session.
Kelly is on her way to that level, but when we first started working together, we were both new to our respective industries. Our partnership works because we are always cognizant of each other’s time and continually dream up projects that are mutually beneficial. We’ve traveled to Chicago to shoot together, created a “How to Pose – 7 Ways to Look Better in Photos” guide, produced promo videos, and boosted her Google search rankings by curating seasonal outfit inspiration for family photos.
In addition to a services trade, you can explore other ways to reduce costs. In general, editing is the most time-consuming/labor intensive part of photography. If you have editing skills, you can ask a photographer if they would consider a shoot that includes the images without edits. Some will balk at this because most photographers like to keep full control of their images. Editing is a HUGE part of the art of photography. However, others might be happy to simplify their process. When Kelly and I swap services, she shoots the images but I do the editing.
Send them a quick email or Instagram DM. Introduce yourself briefly, including information about who you are, your collaboration idea, and any metrics you have about your audience/reach. Do you have a media kit? If so, include it. Be as specific as you can about what you are looking for and be professional. Good grammar, complete sentences, proper spelling… They matter! First impressions can launch a successful partnership or sink it before you begin.
It’s helpful to also put yourself in their shoes. Can you anticipate what they might be looking for? Ideally, you are trying to build a long term relationship with this email or DM, not a one off photo session. Be concise, but provide all the necessary information.
Unless you live in a big city, you probably won’t find photographers who brand themselves as “blogger photographers.” Keep your mind open. Kelly is a family/newborn photographer. Fashion was something totally new to her. Turns out, she’s amazing at it! I feel it’s most helpful to choose a photographer based on their aesthetic and creativity, than the content of they typically shoot. Most photographers are pretty adaptable.
In addition to a simple Google search, you can use Instagram to start your photographer hunt, browsing #yourlocationphotographer. New and aspiring photographers might not have a website yet, but will likely be building their brand on social media. And don’t negate the power of simply asking your friends/family if they know of anyone who dabbles in photography!
If you ask us, a photographer/blogger team is a match made in heaven. With proper communication and some reciprocal creativity, the sky is the limit for what you can achieve.