What’s your photography saying about your business?

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There is a trend in digital marketing, social-media and branding overall that we have been noticing more and more.  At BoldThink, we can always convince our clients to not make this mistake but it does can take some convincing to spend the extra time and money to do it right (it also doesn’t hurt we have a pocket of photographers that we work with on a regular basis). The mistakes are using photography that isn’t related to the subject matter, using photography that doesn’t portray the right image of the brand and/or using an abundance of stock photos.  Whether it is the center-point of a marketing campaign, product shots, staff photos or even just a photo to accompany a blog post, you need to be aware of the value of good photography and what it’s saying about your business.

What makes a good photograph?  This is obviously a very broad question that can mean many different things depending on your particular project needs.  If you are a design professional, you probably have a good intuition of what fits the messaging and what doesn’t.  If you are like many business owners and managers, here are a few things that will help you out:

  • If you’ve got the budget, hire a professional photographer, a visual consultant or both.  Most branding and/or design companies have access to reasonably priced photographers that also can serve as the visual consultant. Their job is to produce images that are not only beautiful but also assist in choosing images that are consistent to the overall “feel” of the design strategy. There is nothing that will make it feel more personable and valuable than the photographs being taken specifically for your business. You can also guarantee that no other business will have the same photo as you.
  • Have a plan for the visuals in your design strategy.  There are many times that photography isn’t considered until late in the project and too often with little budget left. It’s hard to see a business go through the design process of a thoughtful website and just as it’s ready to launch, the photographs are selected hastily, often as an after thought, just to make the website live. Photography speaks of your brand experience and is just as equally important in the design strategy and the branding process. Be sure you leave enough time and money in the budget.
What message will get people from the photos you select?
What message will get people from the photos you select?
  • Know what your photography is saying about your business.  We know that someone said “don’t judge a book by its cover” but whoever said that was definitely not a designer or marketer.  Your clients or potential clients will see the images you chose and will interpret them, assign meaning to them and even derive the value of your brand from them.  Simply put, if you use cheap, uninteresting or badly executed photos your client at best will ignore the message and at worst think of your brand as also being cheap, uninteresting or badly executed.
  • If you have to use stock photos, use them sparingly. You might not know it, but people know stock photos when they see them, and if they know your brand, those photos will stick out like a sore thumb.  If you need to sprinkle a few in and around your website, make them unique and be sure they aren’t too cliche or cheesy. It might be a good idea to also make sure those same photos or models in the photos aren’t being used by your competitors.
  • Ask someone for their opinion. If you decide to move forward with using stock photos, be sure to ask for an opinion from someone who doesn’t know your business like you do. Too often people in the same line of work can be too like-minded, so your better off asking a few people not invested in your business. Ask them how they view the image and if it works with your brand.

If you decide to do your photography in-house, be sure you have a decent camera with a clean lens. We’ve seen photos come out dusty with marks, photos that are blurry, or photos that are flash heavy. When you can, keep the flash off and know when to use the micro and macro setting. Try some different angles that aren’t always straight on and think of new, creative ways you can show new products. Most importantly, if your photograph is taken with the right settings, you should have very little color correcting to do. If you don’t know how to edit photos, it’s usually best to leave it to someone that does.
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