Let’s take a walk down memory lane…
Fashion blogging might seem pretty narcissistic to anyone that isn’t themselves a blogger or someone that likes to read blogs. I get it – if I go onto my Instagram, it’s 80% full of photos of me posing on some fancy road or outside some fancy house that I don’t own, meanwhile, I could be writing a post over here about something pretty serious but you best believe I’ll plaster in a few irrelevant photos of myself into the post also. However, can’t you say the same for magazines? At the end of the day, it’s all imagery, if anything – it’s supplementary to your blog. I mean, would you rather read a huge block of text or have it split up by some nice photos which come along with some shoppable links and style inspiration (for all the fashion lovers)?! I’d vote for the latter. These days, fashion imagery (imagery in general) has become a huge part of blogging, and with the industry become more and more saturated, the days of low quality, grainy photos taken stood behind our bedroom doors don’t quite cut it anymore.
I thought I’d share a bit about my own journey, and some tips for what you need to look for when hiring a blog photographer…
If you don’t already know, before I was fashion blogging I owned a “resources” website where I essentially blogged about whatever was happening in school at the time, and also coded and designed websites for others. The good ol’ days. When I first started fashion blogging, I was very on/off and sporadic with it (not really taking it too seriously); I took all my photos on my webcam or Samsung phone using a tripod I purchased from eBay, and my backdrop was my very interesting bedroom door. This was the norm at the time and even those that did venture outside only made it to their gardens. There were some merits to this – with no one but you in the room you’re probably at your most confident in terms of shooting, plus, a mini shoot which requires only your phone and tripod (no worries about lighting, outfit changes, scenery etc), is incredibly quick and easy and probably takes 10 minutes to complete from start to finish.
The industry changed really quickly, and not before long I started to feel the pressure to leave behind the confines of my room if I wanted to keep up with where things were headed. So I entered stage 2: “grab any friend I could find” stage. I started off taking some (pretty woeful) photos in my garden, and then after some time asked an old friend who is a photographer to help me shoot a few photos. However, I felt guilty about taking up her time for no money in return, I was studying and had no money, and decided instead to just grab whoever I was with when I was out to take a few photos of me on the tiny digital camera I carried around with me at the time. Again, it was fairly quick and easy and I was just happy to be out of my room. I wasn’t too bothered about quality – anything outside seemed pretty good to me. Eventually my friend Andre and I started to mutually shoot each other for our blogs using his DSLR, which was super convenient as we’d just take a break from campus (which was already in central London), find a side street and snap some photos – and we’d do this about once a week. But… then graduation happened, work started, and it just wasn’t as easy to do this as it once had been. So, I decided to bite the bullet, and hired myself a photographer…
Stage 3 – And what you need to know
When it came to hiring a photographer I took to Twitter to see if anyone had any recommendations which is when somebody suggested Marianne to me. I’d say I’m about as loyal now to Marianne as I am to my hairdresser (my hairdresser has been the same since I was 12 – I couldn’t get into contact with her for 2 days recently to book an appointment and I was like a lost child).
It was a match made in heaven.
There are a few things to consider if you’re thinking of taking the leap from Stage 2, to Stage 3:
First and foremost is cost. I can tell you that some photographers charge absolutely ludicrous prices for a few blogger outfit photos – and given that my photographer is fab and not ridiculously expensive, I know that this doesn’t have to be the case. I’d say someone that is within the £50 per hour range is pretty perfect, and if you wanted to go slightly higher, £75 is a decent ceiling (at least at present, things/prices change over time). Typical ranges I’ve heard are usually within the £30-50 bracket (personally). Some photographers do charge in excess of £100, and I personally don’t always think it should cost this much for a 1 hour outfit shoot.
I’ll be honest – I really don’t like shooting. Sure, the finish is pretty glossy and it gives you lots of content for the ~interwebz~, but the process itself is pretty long and tiring. It could involve trekking far into London (lucky I live in Central so it’s never too terrible), walking around for a while to find the right location, trying to find not-so-glamorous places to slyly change into new outfits, and since I’m in the UK – more often than not crappy weather comes in the budle deal. I only do one hour sessions every 1-1.5 months and honestly, it’s tiring – by the last few photos I feel my eyes drooping. This is why I’m all for efficiency! Marianne and I always shoot 4 outfits within an hour, however I know of some photographers that spend 3 hours taking photos of 1 outfit, and ain’t nobody got time fo’ dat.
3. “Where do I find someone?”
Honestly, just ask around. Not only that, but have a look at who others are using. There are a few pretty popular blogger photographers floating around in the captions of multiple bloggers’ Instagram profiles – why not just pop them a DM and ask for a quote? Or if there’s a blogger whose photos you really like, just reach out to them and ask them who they use / who they have used and what they’d suggest. I definitely think recommendations are better than just blindly searching through the internet, at least then you know there is some credibility in who you’ve chosen to work with.
4. Look for someone that cares about their craft
It’s easy to have a fancy camera and take a few photos, collect your money and go. But you need to think about if you really have a photographer that cares about what you’re creating together. For example – Marianne is always thinking about new locations and places to shoot that would match my style, we’re always trying to switch things up to keep things interesting. She will also help with some outfit decisions at times, for e.g. choosing shoe A versus choosing shoe B dependent on the backdrop. She genuinely cares about her craft and what she’s producing, and the team work together means we are able to walk away with images we’re both happy with.
5. You want a photographer than gives you optionality
This is just a minor one and a little pet peeve of mine – but I really like to work with photographers that give me all the images taken, as a few tend to just pick a few (of their personal favourites). I prefer to have the options such that I can pick the final photos myself – and if retouching is the issue, this is something I can handle on my own. You’ll find some of the time that what is on offer in the bundles listed by most photographers might just be a “one hour shoot with 10 images provided” – but personally I want to see all 100 images taken. There are times I hate a photo, return to it a few months later, change my mind and drop it onto my Instagram feed – I can only do this because the option is there.
6. Pick someone you vibe with
Finally, we come to vibe / personality. In any business you’re working on – this is a major attribute to focus on with whoever it is you’re working with. Of course I have to add reliability into this bucket – because the truth is that most people aren’t very reliable. I can hold my hand up and say I can be late… a lot of the time (hey, only 10 minutes or so). But you can rely on me – if I say I’m going to be somewhere or that I’m going to do something… I will. And this is something I need in a photographer – God forbid I’m left standing in the cold somewhere in Notting Hill with my photographer just never showing up. Also – and this isn’t a must I guess – but it’s great if you also get along with your photographer. Marainne is a great girl and whenever we meet up, along with taking photos, we do generally have a catch up about what’s going on in each of our lives. If you are able to work with someone you vibe with, it makes for more ease behind the camera, a better time on shoot days and lastly – better results!