How to Work with Photographers (as a Blogger)
The blogger/photographer relationship is a sacred yet sometimes tricky one to navigate. Here, three different, London based photographers - Kadir Gold, Michaela Efford and Michaela Tornaritis - share more about how they like to work with bloggers, why they deserve to be paid and their feelings on collaborations.
The Photography Rates
1. How much do you charge and what does that include?
KG: I charge £80 for 2 hours of shooting (inc editing). A lot can be achieved in that time.
ME: It depends on what the shoot is e.g. street style, studio shoot etc. I usually charge per outfit, as I’m quite a quick shooter and once I know we’ve got the shot we can move onto the next outfit. I always include editing into my fee, as I want my clients to experience the full photo shoot.
MT: I charge a half day rate (4 outfits) or a full day rate (8 outfits) which includes editing!
2. Why do you charge bloggers?
KG: Because often the content won't/can't be useful for my portfolio. The images would be sent, and I'd have no creative reward, so the financial incentive helps.
ME: Because they’re asking for a service, the same way brands ask them for their service to post content. Photography and Blogging are jobs and both should be paid.
MT: Because we are out here trying to make a living so I can’t afford to be giving people free photos lol!
3. How have you found bloggers response to being charged?
KG: They seem fine with it.
ME: Some respect that photography is a paying job and they're paying for the photographer’s skill to get amazing quality photos and they know the worth of the equipment and how valuable my time is when it comes to doing the shoot and post-production. However, there are still some that ask me for collaborations and I have to decline those jobs, as those bloggers do not value my work and collaborations really don’t benefit me at all.
MT: I think a lot of bloggers understand that we photographers work hard to give them good content so are happy to pay. Unfortunately there are others who expect us to work for free.
"Photography and Blogging are jobs and both should be paid."
- Michaela Efford.
The Moral Rights
4. Are you happy to provide all unedited JPEGS of your photos?
KG: I can provide unedited JPEGS, however, it adds to the process. Shooting in RAW, the CR2 images have to be converted to JPEG for the client. My edits would still be done on the original CR2 images. So essentially it's like doing the exporting process twice.
ME: Last year I would have never sent out unedited shots from a shoot I had done. But I work with 2/3 bloggers a day, so I don’t want to spend time editing a shot they won’t be 100% happy with. Bloggers have a big role, as they are not only the models but also the creative directors. So I do send out the unedited shots for them to choose the selections they want me to edit.
MT: Not at all. In fact I did it a few times before in my career and then thought “Why did I do that!”. It’s not beneficial at all, I’m basically doing half my job and they’re posting photos that are unedited which makes my work look bad!
5. Do you expect more money if the shoot is used for a brand campaign?
KG: I haven't had too much experience with brands and campaigns so I'm not aware as to how much money could potentially be made, whether for the blogger or myself.
ME: No, my set fee would not change.
MT: Yes, if we’re working on a sponsored post I charge a little extra.
6. How important is crediting to you?
KG: I think crediting is very important and it works both ways.
ME: So important! The same way bloggers tag brands and @ them in their captions to get recognition is the same for photographers. That’s how our work gets shown. Plus photographers do mention to other photographers when a blogger does not mention them in their post and that does get passed around affecting whether a photographer will work or collaborate with them.
MT: Crediting is important to me, maybe not as much as when I first started out as I wanted as much recognition as possible! (it’s so hard to get your name out in such a competitive industry!) If a brand (especially with a high following) reposts your image without crediting you it’s a little disheartening as you’ve put so much effort into creating that image and we photographers are forgotten a little!
The Collaboration Ethics
7. Would you ever just collaborate (instead of charging) and if so why?
KG: Definitely, it's a fantastic learning experience for me, from camera/lens settings and behaviour, changing of environments, improvement of processes (file transfer etc.), different shoot styles etc. It's a great way to gain experience and acquire golden content that is beneficial for both the blogger and me.
ME: Before I went full time I would work with numerous of bloggers for free to gain exposure. I had done 35 free shoots (literally counted and scrolled through my Instagram to get the exact number)! I then realised exposure barely affected me and I would only gain around 3 followers from the collaborations. So after a while, it was pretty pointless to do free shoots, whereas posting constantly would get my work noticed and I started focusing on building my portfolio.
MT: I don’t usually collaborate with bloggers as much! However, I shoot a lot for free when it comes to agency signed models or people I find on Instagram and think “I’d love to shoot with them”. If I’m organising a shoot it’s because I want to create content for myself and the team so none of us would be getting paid. To be honest most of my favourite work has been when I’ve shot for free!
8. How important is a blogger’s style, aesthetic and or/following for working together?
KG: If I'm engaged by the blogger's style and aesthetic I am inclined to work with them, whether for a fee on a collaboration basis. Being engaged in style means content can be created that fits their needs as well as my portfolio. The blogger's following really has no bearing on my decision. I would work with someone who doesn't even have an account on social media. If I see something that fits the images in my head, then I'm engaged. Casting people based on their following severely limits my creative options.
ME: I’ve never cared for the followings someone has, I photograph people from 50 followers to 1 million. However, style is semi-important to me, as I am a fashion photographer so I want to capture some fashionable shots on the shoot.
MT: A blogger's style is very important to me. I am very picky when it comes to working with bloggers as I work with people I love the style of. If I feel inspired I enjoy the shoot and editing process a lot more. In terms of following, I really couldn’t care less how many followers they have. I’ve worked with people with less than 10K followers and people with over 400K but I love the images just as much. If someone has 5 followers on Instagram but an amazing style, I’d still work with them.
9. How do you work with bloggers to help achieve their aesthetic and how much creative control do you have over the shoots?
KG: We have this conversation prior or during the shoot. I also have a look at their current content. I try and ascertain what kind of aesthetic they are going for, from angles and ranges to locations and post-production. Creative control is never wrestled with, there seems to be a balance that works well between the blogger and myself.
ME: Most of the time I scout the location and also give direction on the bloggers poses, as they can’t see what is behind the lens. I always try to experiment with angles to create different shots for the shoots.
MT: I am very clear with my clients when I’m on a shoot. I make sure we discuss what sort of photos they’re after, whether that’s shooting landscape or portrait. I tend to shoot and then show them photos as we go along just to see we’re both on the same page. A lot of bloggers know how they want to be shot and they’ll just tell me, so communication is key!
10. What’s the best way to get in contact with you?
KG: Currently, my Instagram page seems to be the leading the line in terms of contact. After a quick message there, numbers/emails are exchanged and our preferred methods are employed.
ME: Instagram Direct Message, then a follow-up email if I don’t reply within a few days.
MT: Best way to contact me is via email. I receive so many messages on Instagram and I always forget to reply, so my email is the easiest way.
Thanks to all the photographers for taking the time out to share their honest opinions on working with bloggers. It's been so interesting hearing their thoughts on the blogger/photographer working relationship - lots for us all to learn from.