How to Select a Quality Photographer

One of our values at Saddleback Leather is Quality.  We believe in using quality materials, making quality products and working with quality vendors.  Meet Aiden Franklin, owner of Image Alive Studios. Aiden shoots Saddleback’s photography and has worked with hundreds of other businesses to build and promote their brands.  He’s here to share some advice on selecting a quality professional photographer.


This is the philosophy on quality that my uncle Dave has when it comes to his leather goods (and SUVs). Dave and I have a lot in common because as it turns out, it is the only play business owners should make when hiring a product photographer. After shooting for hundreds of companies across a multitude of industries, I often tell my clients they cannot afford to not pay us to do their photography. Here are a few things I have learned.

Image Alive Studios lifestyle shot of a Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase
Classic Briefcase // Copyright Aiden Franklin // www.imagealivestudios.comVintage Briefcase // Copyright Aiden Franklin //

1.THE 1%. As Dave knows all too well, there are a ton of variables in the pursuit of quality. Effecting the overall image (or bag) by a mere 1% is not the end of the world – consumers will never know. The problem is that the one percents add up to 10% – 20% super quick. Therefore, you have to find a narcotic, OCD person on some dark personal life quest to prove themselves to the world by creating the best content possible for your brand… and your bag.

TIP: You’ll know your close to finding the right photographer if they are using a full frame camera with a prime lens, strobe lights and color charts for color accuracy.

Behind The Scenes // // Copyright Aiden Franklin
Image Alive Studios in studio shot of a Saddleback Leather Classic Briefcase
Behind The Scenes // Copyright Aiden Franklin //

2. THE 1% CONVERSION. Since we are talking about one percents, what does 1% conversion look like for a business? In the US, retail companies convert 2-3% of their online traffic into a sale. If a business grosses 1 million a year, taking them from 2% to 3% would be… I’m not good at math but it is certainly not worth tying a photographer’s hands behind their back because your wanting to save money up front. Sell a kidney, buy the good stuff and you can replace your kidney with all the money you make.

TIP: Poke around the photographer’s site and gauge if the work is commissioned or not. It’s not uncommon for a photographer to buy a new pair of shoes and photograph them before they wear them. You want a photographer that sat with a pro stylist for hours picking the exact angles for maximum conversion.

3. EXPERIENCE. I have seen what impacts and doesn’t impact all kinds of businesses for years now. I almost take it personally when our client’s don’t succeed from our imagery. I evaluate where the disconnect was, adjust and do it better the next go. I think Dave has re-designed the classic briefcase about 15 times. Not for any reason that a consumer would notice but because he has more experience with it and has thought of ways to make it stronger.

EXAMPLE: Often you are paying a “day rate” for a photographer to figure stuff out.  Lighting, composition, styling… there are a million variables when taking a picture. You want someone who has shot so many times that at least half of them are second nature.

A great photographer does not take the path of least resistance. We are marketers and brand builders. We ask a ton of questions and do a ton of research. This is because our business is directly tied to the client’s success so the images need to serve them well (similar to a quality bag that serves a customer well for life).

– Aiden Franklin
Owner of Image Alive Studios

Aiden Portrait ColorBesides being Dave’s nephew, Aiden Franklin is the owner and lead photographer for Image Alive Studios based in Fort Worth, TX.  Image Alive has provided services for hundreds of companies and their services include product photography, 360 spin photography, video, lifestyle photography and social content.