Bad photos harm brands. Why great photography could be the key to your brand’s success
You’ve got a great product, a wonderful story, and now you’re investing in your brand and website. But have you thought about investing in photography?
Our brains process imagery much faster than they do words. So getting images right within your marketing is key to making an immediate and positive impression on your clients.
Professional photography can often be a cost that is overlooked when deciding on a budget for a new website or brand. It’s one of the first things I discuss with clients at the beginning of any project, as I’ve seen first hand how investing in imagery can massively elevate a brand. I would go as far as to say that photography is far more valuable than any other other brand asset, it creates authenticity and personality which can give you a hugely competitive edge.
Here’s some of my tips and reasons for urging you to use a professional.
“We can just do it ourselves”
This is something that I often hear from clients. Whilst it would be unfair of me to dismiss everyone’s photographic ability, the majority of times I’ve been right to hear alarms bells when I hear this phrase. Photos have come back to me out of focus, inconsistent and they really haven’t done the brand or product justice. Bad photos have also cost me lots of time in post editing, when trying to make an image half decent enough to use within a design.
You may have a great camera, and know your way around photoshop, but there’s no substitute for using a trained professional. Investing in someone who takes beautiful photographs for a living will save you the hassle, and will save your designer the awkward conversation when they have to criticise your work.
You may save yourself a few pounds with a DIY approach but you won’t be saving any time.
“Can we just use Stock Imagery?”
Stock imagery definitely has it’s uses, but you do have to be careful how and where you use it. It’s hard to find stock images that look like part of a set, often the style of photographs differs, and it’s not always possible to find the exact shot you need, so there is almost always a compromise. Not to mention that really good stock photos tend be really expensive.
Using real images of your product, clients or staff will really help to build instant trust with your followers. If people see ‘real’ people they are more likely to relate and believe in your brand and thus more likely to buy.
However, if you are going down the stock route then it’s definitely worth getting your web or brand designer to help you choose images that reflect your brand as best as possible. They can also help by editing them to make them more consistent or to create new compositions.
But, there really is no substitute for the real thing.
“We don’t have the budget for a professional photographer”
I would always recommend factoring in some budget for photos right from the very beginning of any design project. Imagery is one area where your investment can really make an impact, so always asses where your money can be better spent.
Hiring a professional doesn’t always have to cost a huge amount. You can hire a talented photographer from as little as £300-£500 for a day. And there’s often ways to achieve a great set of images that will work wonders for your marketing without it having to cost thousands.
You could save money by:
- Using your own location space rather than hiring a studio or set
- Using your own friends, family and contacts as models
- Using your own props
Talk to photographers and explain what you want to achieve and be transparent and honest about how much you can spend, they can often tailor their offering to fit your budget, or recommend ways to help you reduce costs.
Write a detailed shoot brief
If you decide to go ahead and hire a photographer, you've definitely made the right choice. Writing a shoot brief can really help you get the most out of your investment.
Speak to your designer who can help you create this document. They can specify what kind of images you need to get the best results when used for your marketing. For example if your website needs square ratio images, or requires copy space on the left. They will be able to give you tips and references that will help you brief the photographer and ensure you get images that are usable.
Within the brief you could include references to images you have seen that you like the style of, and maybe even some examples of the kind of compositions you would like to achieve. Including a shot list will help both you and your photographer co-ordinate the day helping everything run to schedule, maximising their time and giving you maximum value.
A good photographer will always ask you lots of questions ahead of the shoot, and will be able to arrange things like locations, styling, models and hair and make-up for you if this is a requirement.
Lastly, find someone amazing
As with most industries, there are plenty of cowboys in this field. Sadly, I have seen clients hire someone who talked the talk but the photos they produced were sub standard and unusable. It’s always worth asking your designer for recommendations on people they have worked with in the past that fit the style you are looking for. Always review a photographer’s portfolio and don’t be afraid to ask them for examples of their work. It’s a good idea to either hire someone for their style, or for their experience in your specific field but preferably both.
Before you hire someone, make sure you chat to them about usage rights. Some photographers charge a one off fee for their time shooting and editing, and then the images are yours to use wherever you like. However, some charge additional usage fees which are calculated depending on how and where an image will be used and for how long. Always ask them about this before your hire them and agree any fees in writing beforehand.