Perhaps the old Skin Horse said it best: “The Boy’s Uncle made me Real,” he said. “That was a great many years ago; but once you are Real you can’t become unreal again. It lasts for always.”
– Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit.
While you have to continually work at making it last in the business world, Skin Horse was really onto something when he wisely expressed the value in authenticity. It’s what you strive for in your company’s image. If your brand is your visual voice (what you stand for, your story, your persona), how can you accurately portray that with stock photography? Impossible. Yes, it’s tempting, readily available and cheap, but is it valuable? The answer is no. Rather than adding value, stock photos compromise the legitimacy of your content. Remember, you’re not the only one with access to those photos, and one of your competitors may be using the same photos, too. How original is that? A stock photo, no matter how professional the quality, cannot echo your visual voice the way your own real, custom photography can.
Now that you’ve settled the stock photos vs. custom photography debate, here are some tips about how to effectively achieve original work without breaking the bank.
Build your own photo library
Not all photos have to be professionally shot. One of the biggest secrets to getting a great photograph lies in taking a lot of photos. An excellent and convenient way to create and add to your company’s custom photography library is by encouraging (assigning, even) employees and interns to take photos at work. You might find yourself surprised at some of the gems you’ll collect via this method. For example, say your team is in a meeting, brainstorming a big project, and the team reaches that “eureka” moment. Capture it! Yes, grab that iPhone, it’s handy and you’ll be able to quickly catch that shot.
Does your company host an employee barbecue or picnic, or participate in a charitable fun-run? What about an annual lake day, or ping pong tournament? Even the simple, everyday office antics and interactions offer candid situations which can really illustrate your team’s personality. Take advantage of those instances. Get personal, be proud, and show off your company’s culture! Within all of those scenarios, there are excellent photos waiting to be documented. You’ll gain original photographs of your team members in authentic moments, and create your own source from which to pull real shots as needed for your website or social media platforms.
Know when to leave it to the pros
While it is great to make use of candid, everyday shots to build your photo library, there are most definitely times when it is best to leave the photo-taking to the professionals. Company head shots, product images, and events, in particular, are the places to spend your penny hiring a pro. Here’s where it is time to acknowledge that a professional photographer knows all the tricks associated with the trade, and has the best tools with which to make the magic happen.
Head shots: When introducing your team via a set of photographs on your website, uniform head shots are super important to your company’s online presence. These are the faces that often interact with your clients, and recognition is the key. It doesn’t mean that you can’t or shouldn’t show each team member’s individuality. You can and you should. A good photographer knows just how to achieve this without sacrificing the overall continuity of the set. It’s a skill worthy of the fee.
Product images: When you are trying to convince someone to buy your product, images are extremely powerful. Do not skimp on quality of your custom photography here. There are quite a few things to consider in order to get that perfect product photo that sets you apart from your competition. Leave it to a professional, and your product will shine. Showcase what is important. After all, your ultimate goal is to make money by selling your product, and appearance matters.
Events: A company event is a big deal. Your company event is a really big deal. It’s important. You want it to be flawless, and you have enough details to worry about without adding missing a shot, or sub-standard image quality to the list. From lighting and backdrops, to top notch equipment and creativity, a skilled professional photographer has that trained eye that gives them the ability to take your vision to the next level. Event images can and should be long-lasting. Hire a professional, specifically one with sound event experience, to ensure that those images are impactful. You want someone with true talent, who will go the extra step, think strategically and find those hidden opportunities and creative highlights. In weighing the expense, consider this an investment that will add lasting value to your business. Remember, these are the images you will use in your marketing campaigns, and the images your potential clients, sponsors, and vendors will see; you can’t afford for them to be anything less than stellar. Quality, professional custom photography is a crucial element in the success of your business event.
Consumers are tired of seeing the façade of those all-too-familiar, canned photos. Strengthen your brand: be bold, be original, be real. Using authentic, custom photography to help craft and convey your company’s image should be an integral part of your marketing strategy. Aim to connect and build trust with your audience. Quit using those phony stock photos, and go with something real—custom photography.
Why do you use custom photography? Let us know in the comments below!