How to Commission a Photographer / Part 2: Finding the Right Photographer for your Shoot

Part 2: Finding the Right Photographer for your Shoot: What to look out for. Hopefully last weeks post ( Part 1: Why Commission Photography) convinced you that bespoke, original photography is the way to go. So now you just need to find the perfect photographer for your shoot.

We are known for being helpful and open here at LPA, but we aren’t so altruistic that we are going to give you an in depth guide on how to find photographers outside the agency! You probably get bombarded with emails, promos and calls from hundreds of photographers anyway. This post is more about spotting which photographer is right for your shoot.

Here’s a handy checklist:

• The Style of Photography

The number one thing that you’ll be considering is the actual work of the photographer. Can they interpret your vision and translate visually exactly what you have in mind.

©Julian Calverley / Redwood / Land Rover

©Julian Calverley / Redwood / Land Rover

I know this sounds a very obvious one but I have come across the odd client disappointed with the end result (obviously not any of our photographers or anything to do with LPA!) because they haven’t quite matched up the right man (or woman!) for the job.

We make sure our website is up to date with our photographers' most recent work and also provide links to their websites where you can see more. If you would like to see their printed portfolios or would like us to tailor make a pdf of relevant images for a shoot you have in mind, please just let us know.

• Experience

The images may look great in the folio or on the website, but has the photographer got the right experience and skills you need to carry off your shoot.

You may need the end result to look like a spontaneous moment, but you also want to cast specific models, scout locations and have the shoot styled. Is this something the photographer has experience in? Working with a large crew can be an intense experience and photographers require a whole load of skills other than just taking great pictures to do this well.

Here at LPA recreating spontaneous moments with a large production crew is one of our specialties.

© Iain Crockhart / Landor / Barclaycard

Perhaps you are looking for a photographer who can literally go and photograph people he finds on the day, rather than working with professional models. Again a very different discipline and skill.

© Andy Smith

Or your shoot many require a photographer that is used to working with kids.

Nick David / Children's Society

I used to represent a still life photographer who was commissioned to shoot quite a large campaign involving children, the creative director was one of his mates – the whole thing was very painful as he had no experience of shooting people let alone kids!

• Personality

Photography (as with most businesses) is such a ‘people’ business. A lot of our work comes from people wanting to work with us or our particular photographers again as they simply get on well. It’s important that you ‘gel’ with your chosen photographer, can communicate easily with them, and enjoy spending time with them. Our photographers also appreciate that shoots are a collaboration, a two way process, they can bring plenty of ideas to the table.

And, of course, all of our LPA photographers are selected for their charm and charisma, their professionalism and reliability, as well as their wonderful photography, so you are in safe hands. Feel free to let us know if you’d like to meet any of them then you can see for yourself!

• Approach

Something we often do for more complex shoots is provide a treatment. We can provide more background information on the photographer and their experience plus relevant images. This is also an opportunity for the photographer to explain how they will approach your shoot and achieve exactly the end result you are looking for. It shows you that they are on the same page visually and understand your requirements. It could be a team effort between the photographer and a retoucher for example; or the photographer might suggest working with a casting director and portable crew to shoot 'real' people in situ; or they might provide examples of how they have shot with professional models and a stylist but the images look completely 'caught in the moment'.

© Ray Massey / Rothco / Lipton

• Price

Most of our clients appreciate the cost of a top end photographer, and that you get what you pay for. We try and accommodate all of our clients needs including tight budgets and deadlines. However sometimes we’d rather walk away from a shoot than compromise the end result or agree to a fee that is well below the industry going rate (unless there is a very good reason).

Having said that, we are here to help and sometimes we can suggest a different approach to the logistics of the shoot if budget really is an issue. Also, don’t forget we represent a group of emerging photographers (LPA Futures) who might be more willing to shoot for a reduced fee (if it’s a perfect job!)


To be honest though, it's actually quite rare that any of our photographers are commissioned because they are ‘cheaper’, 9 times out of 10 all of our photographers are commissioned as they are absolutely right for the job and not because of price. By the same token, if it really is a super job for a good cause and your budget is ‘challenging’, it may be that our more established photographers might be interested anyway.

© Liz McBurney / Dog and Bear / #PutRedBack

As an agent it is our job to secure photographers jobs on fair and professional terms, including their fees. None of our photographers have a day rate as such and their fees are calculated on the end usage of the images. We treat each brief individually and take everything into account, but lots more to come on this subject in Part 4: The Cost of a Photoshoot.

• Availability

Ok, bit of an obvious one, but this is meant to be a handy check list for busy people and often it’s the more obvious things that can get forgotten. If you have particular dates in mind, we can check availability of your preferred photographers. If they are free we will give you a ‘1st option’. Should another client come along wanting the same dates, we will give them a 2nd option until we check with you that you can either release or confirm your dates.

• Production support

From turning around a comprehensive estimate, to planning a realistic schedule, to being aware of what permits, releases and legal obligations need to be considered, producing shoots can be a fine art. Even the simplest shoot needs production know how.

Finding a photographer with good production back up will take the weight of your mind. Well say no more, our in house team of experienced shoot producers are at your service.

Of course you could just send us your brief and we’ll suggest the right photographer for you!

Talking of which, watch out for next weeks instalment…

Part 3: Writing the Brief: What we need to know to cost and plan the shoot.


If you don’t want to miss any crucial information, sign up now. Send your email address to with the subject line “How to Commission a Photographer” and we’ll send you the guide directly each week. We’ll also be happy to answer any further questions you have on commissioning a photoshoot in the meantime.

Although the author has made every effort to ensure that the information in this blog post is correct, the contents are provided without warranty as to their accuracy, may be of a general nature and the opinion of the author only. The author will not be held responsible for any loss, damage or disruption caused by errors or omissions, whether such errors or omissions result from negligence, accident, or any other cause.