Why I Hired a Graphic Designer to Help Brand My Photography Business

Since most professional photographers are sole proprietors, we are used to doing everything ourselves — shooting images, processing, answering the phone, keeping the books and so forth. Just because we do all these tasks, however, that doesn’t mean we are the best suited for them. That’s definitely true of graphic design.

Because we are creative professionals, it is tempting to design our own marketing collateral, business cards and Web sites. In doing so, we run the risk of looking amateurish or cheap — which is not a brand image that will help your business. If you’ve seen a colleague’s business card crowded with too many photos or printed in size 16 font, you know what I’m talking about.

We are also too close to our own businesses to be truly objective, and this is where another creative person with a trained set of eyes can really help. The fresh perspective can do wonders for your brand.

A Creative Partner

I’ve always had the desire to collaborate with a graphic designer on my marketing materials, but it took me a while to find the right one. I recently took the plunge and contacted a former art director colleague, Kaleena Tucker, to create a new business card and stationery for my photography business.

Because Kaleena and I had worked together, I knew we would have good professional chemistry. All I asked up front is that the design have a clean, minimalist style consistent with the look of my Web site.

Once we agreed on the basics, she sent me multiple layouts, and we subsequently went through several rounds of revisions. I always asked for her opinion during each step of the process, which helped to influence my decisions.

Worth the Cost

We ultimately decided to make separate sets of cards to represent the three types of photography I do — landscape, travel and photojournalism. Below is the card design for landscape photography, with my logo and contact information on the front and a photo on the back.

I’m very pleased with how the project turned out. For me, the benefits have far outweighed the costs. If you’re worried about your budget, though, keep in mind that hiring a graphic designer doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Many talented freelance designers have very reasonable rates. You can also find full-time designers who freelance on the side to stretch their creative muscles and earn a little extra money.

I’m curious to know how many other photographers out there have hired a graphic designer. If you have, please share your story in comments.

9 Responses to “Why I Hired a Graphic Designer to Help Brand My Photography Business”

  1. Great advice Richard. I hired a graphic designer many years ago for my logo and it was a great help. He gave me many alternatives to select from, and left me with all the needed Illustrator files so I could move forward with the logo on my own after he had finished his work.

  2. This is a great point. I actually fall into a category of doing both photography and graphic design. Even with my experience, I also hired outside talent to handle my branding for another reason. I think sometimes we can become too close to our work/image and I think adding another creative view to the process is worth a ton.

    Nice work!

  3. I agree it never pays to be cheap when it comes to design and overall business image / brand. Hiring a designer is money well spent, I have done that from the start as well.

  4. Absolutely agree with you Richard, especially because I am a graphic designer & just falling in love with photography. Even tough I haven't help any photographers yet, but with some help from designer, a photographer could have a better portfolio to be showed.

  5. I absolutely agree with you Richard. I am fortune enough to have my sweetie as my graphic designer. I'm thankful that he can lend a fresh set of eyes to my work. My graphic designer has been an asset to my business!

  6. Yes, I totally agree the investment is worth it!

    A few years back I hired a magazine and book designer to design my portfolio so I would have a professional look to my book. I then printed the pages at my photo lab and assembled the book by hand. She also re-designed my logo at the same time and chose some great colors for my branding. I was able to print out a mini version of the book myself on my color laser printer, as she gave me the InDesign file. I also made a pdf version for emailing to clients. I had some postcard templates made at the same time, and I would just change the photos in the file to create a new campaign. That was before online portfolios took over though.

    Now, I'm more into teaching, so my focus has shifted more to my site and less on my image portfolio. I hired another designer to create a custom header for my WP site. With a custom header on a well designed WP template like Headway, or ones meant to display photos, you can get great looking branding for your site and your business overall.

    Typically photographers get to know a lot of designers, or even art directors who do freelance work, or know someone who does. Ask those people if they are interested in doing some work for you. Some might even do a trade for your photo services if you have a limited budget. Just make sure it's fair for both sides.

  7. Thanks. I took a look at your websites and really dig what you guys have done. Great stuff.

  8. I am about to Re-brand everything my Business is.
    Cards Site and all media

  9. I agree....it's a matter of doing what is best for your business and putting pride and ego aside. Well said.

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