Bloggers: Should You Hire Your Photographers?
It's the age-old question I hear time and time again from bloggers: should I hire my photographers? I don't have a boyfriend to shoot my photos (ummm hello, single girl over here! You definitely do not need a boyfriend to take your photos) and I need photos for my blog. It's not a new conversation, and a lot of newer bloggers often ask this question. I have a few ideas on this topic, and as a new photographer myself, felt it would be interesting to address. I'm just starting to build up a regular clientele, and I think I've started to get the bearings on how blogger photography works. Not to mention, I've worked with many different photographers (both in trade and paid work) so I've gotten my fair amount of experience regarding this topic (Disclaimer, though: I'm no expert).
To answer the question simply, and plainly: Yes, I think you should absolutely hire your photographers.
Being an artist ain't easy. Nor is it cheap. We have to pay for equipment- a camera body, which is anywhere from $1000 - $3000. A good lens (a basic 50mm starts at around $200). Editing equipment, aka Photoshop and Lightroom, will run you about $20/month. Not to mention, odds and ends such as light reflectors, flashes, and external storage. Gas to get to our shoots, and the hours it takes to shoot and edit all the photos. All of this is very expensive, and takes a huge investment. It takes us (at least, those of us just starting out) a long time to make our money back, or even make a dime off of photography. A little compensation for our efforts is always appreciated- hey, it helps us stay in business so we can continue to take your photos!
Now, with that said, there's also a time where I don't think you need to hire your photographers, and that's in a collaboration. And I don't mean a "you plan everything and do all the work" type of collaboration. I mean a collaboration where both parties are involved in every detail of the shoot. I mean from the location scouting to the outfit planning to the posing and angling. You (as the model) are involved in every step, and contribute ideas abundantly. You both are gaining something- whether it be experience or exposure- and it's completely and utterly equal for both parties. That's when I think a collaboration is successful and worth the monetary sacrifice. For example, when I shoot with my friends Jessica, Lauren, Meg, and Julia (whose photos you've seen ton on this blog), we collaborate. But, we all contribute equally to the shoot process. A lot of the times, I'll pick the location and I always create my own looks. But we talk about the looks- we create story boards, send over posing ideas, and sometimes we'll work together to style the looks. It's not a one-and-done type situation. We often take the time to really plan things out, to ensure we create the greatest work we possible can.
Because then, when both parties are putting in equal effort, it's worth the time and the investment. I think when and where collaborations are fit is at the discretion of the photographer (of the model too, if you're seasoned and/or have a large social media following) but mostly at the photographer- they're the ones putting in the most work! I gained so much respect for my photographer friends after I started getting into photography myself. Not that modeling isn't hard but... well, photography is a lot harder. And there's a lot more work involved in photography than there is modeling. I know some models may be upset by me saying this, but having spent plenty of time in both worlds. I can tell you that photography is hands-down 10x harder than modeling is.
There is only one other exception that I can think of where you don't have to hire your photographer, and that's if the photographer is a close friend, and you both can create a successful collaboration (see above) out of working together. And I'm talking close friend- not just little Billy off the street who you've known since you were 7 but never really talk to- close friend. I can think of maybe 5 people who I will do "free" shoots for. And even so, I have very close friends who won't shoot with me for free. So it's all about the photographer and what their preference is. I don't think it hurts to reach out to them and ask them if they're down to collaborate. Some may say yes, and others may say no- and that's okay. If you love their work enough, then it's worth the investment to hire them. Remember, you aren't just paying for photos- you're helping fund their career. And if you like their work, then it should be an easy investment to make. Think of it this way: people buy books their favorite authors write, not only for the stories inside, but to help support the author so they can write more books in the future. It's the same thing, just... well, different.
With all that said, if you're a blogger who's just starting out and needs photos, by all means, hire a more seasoned photographer. Aside from photos, you'll learn so much from them. And even if you are a seasoned blogger, hire an even more seasoned photographer to learn something new! This photo set above was shot by the incredibly lovely Alysha Nett, someone whose work I had been following since I was 15... no joke. When I heard she was coming to the Bay Area, I had to reach out. She's huge in this industry, and clearly knows what she's doing. Sure, the photos turned out absolutely lovely, but what I took away from our shoot was more important than any sort of photos, and were well worth the price to hire her.
I know investing money into a "passion project" like a blog can be scary, but if you want to attract readers, learn from other artists, and create quality content, it's well worth it.
I hope this helped any of you out! If you have any other questions, feel free to leave them below. Oh, and if you want to hire me to take your photos, let's chat. You can find my rates here. ;)