If you own your business you know that quality marketing is near, or at, the top of the list of important tasks to accomplish regularly. Whether your business requires a marketing plan with many moving parts, or is as simple as a good website for your clients to access for information, the image that you project to the public of you, your product, and your company needs to be top notch. The first visual impression that you give should reflect that of the best.
When a client sees your website, ad, or social media for the first time before calling you... what are they seeing in the photography?
Is your Linked-in photo just an iphone selfie? Did you assistant snap a headshot of you that looks like a mug shot on a white wall? Is your product even displayed at all, and if it is does the photo actually reflect the high quality that your product deserves? Does your website have pixelated, dark, out of focus, or just old photographs that need updated? Are you using web stock images of clients, staff, or products that are not even yours? All of these scenarios are photographic problems in your marketing that are going to give off the wrong impression of what a true professional you really are. So it boils down to this. Ask yourself one question... Does the quality of the photography on your website reflect the quality of the work that you do? If the answer is no, its time for a commercial photography consultation.
If you're still not convinced that great photographs will transform the look of you and/or your business, thus bringing you more customers, check out what my past commercial clients have had to say about their experience working with SkySight. Some of the commercial work that we've done can be seen on our product and professional portrait pages. Our commercial work has covered many facets from aircraft to food, and medical staff to social media headshots. Corporate events are often another aspect of what we'll cover, so that those moments like specials awards provided to your VIP sales/agents are captured for blogging, website, and Facebook.
So where do you begin?
We will walk you through it step by step if this is the first professional photographer you've hired for your company. Or, if you've been down this road and know exactly what you want and need, we're more than happy to fall into place and support your already designed vision. Here are my tips for putting together a very successful commercial photography shoot for your business.
NUMBER ONE. Take a self guided tour on your own website. First, google yourself. Start there. How does your google listing look? Open your home page and look it with fresh eyes. Pretend you are a potential customer who just googled you and is seeing your site for the first time. How does it feel when you are on your home page? As a customer, is it inviting? Does it scream high quality? When was the last time you really looked at it in detail? Check every page and make a list of the places a good photograph will enhance it.
NUMBER TWO. Check your site on several different platforms to see how your photos look. Laptop, Desktop computer, mobile and ipad/notebook.
NUMBER THREE. Look at other's websites, specifically in your field. Do this right after you take a tour of your own website. This is how customer's shopping will be seeing you. When compared side by side with your competitor, how do you now feel about your own website photography?
NUMBER FOUR. Find a few other websites (in any profession, not just your own field) that really blow you away with first impression. For example, check out True Health and Fitness, a local healthcare facility we work with who provides acupuncture, chiropractic, and fitness training. Bright, cheerful, large images greet you in a slideshow when you arrive on the home page. As you peruse the site, you'll see images in headers, within the text, and on the blog which are all SkySight Photography photos. There are no stock images, or shots from cell phones anywhere in the website. This consistency is very key to keeping the site professional at every page click. These images truly reflect the high quality professionalism and knowledge of their office/staff, so after visiting the site you feel comfortable and excited to put yourself into their care.
NUMBER FIVE. Make a list of places you need to use photography in addition to your website. Social media, print ads, materials like brochures and business cards, billboards. Think about how the photos need to be oriented on the site. Horizontal, vertical or square? And which pages need each one? How many photos do you need total? All of these items will be helpful prior to starting your photography.
NUMBER SIX. Think outside the box. In addition to product photos, profile/headshots of you and staff, and images of your workspace, what else can you use on your website? Action shots are very useful. If your day to day business involves talking on the phone, perhaps some shots at your desk with your smartphone will be great. If you work with clients face to face, you'll want to get a few people to pose/stage as a model on the day of our shoot. If you are a fitness professional, you may need to be photographed running outside in the streets or in the gym with equipment. Sometimes I suggest taking a large amount of these types of images and saving them for social media usage throughout the year. If you plan to do that, you'll want to change your clothing in these images A LOT so that when you post the photos weeks or months apart it does not look like it was photographed all on the same day.
NUMBER SEVEN. Call to set up a free consultation over the phone. Let us take a look at your site while we chat, and we'll give you an overview of what we think we can do to help improve it. Give us your ideas and what you'd like to do and from there we'll form a quote for total cost of services. We can provide our studio for headshots, professional profile images, and more. However, if on-location at your office works best we will be happy to come to you.
NUMBER EIGHT. Consider help. If you find that your website is slacking because you're busy doing what you do, IE: cooking, building, practicing law, cutting hair, selling, dentistry ... and you have no clue what the first step to building a better website, branding or commercial photography is, then delegate to a marketing/web team like CME Websites. We work closely with web designers and marketing agencies often.
NUMBER NINE. If we are shooting anything outdoor, weather and time of day is key. A blue sky above your building will be best captured when the sun is shining on it. So we'll definitely want to get a sunny day for outdoor photos. In addition, we'll need it photographed at the right time. We'll want to plan for when the sun is properly lighting the building, so if it faces west we'll need to photograph it later in the day, or if it faces east perhaps just after sunrise will be better. Factors like trees and hills will affect when the horizon's shadow begins to fall onto the face of the building, so try to watch on your next sunny day and make note of when it is in full sun. This will be important to know before scheduling.
NUMBER TEN. Prepare for your photography day. Here are a few things to consider:
#1. For photos of people/staff, put together a dress code for your staff to follow. If your business is casual, perhaps color coordination is all you need to do. I usually like the idea of wearing the color(s) that are in the company's logo so it reflects the colors that will already be on the web page where those photos will be displayed. Perhaps uniforms will be worn which makes it easy but remember to remind them to press their shirts, wear appropriate pants/shoes, tuck shirts in, match their belts, remove jewelry, etc. If suits are the attire of your company, set a general color that you would like everyone to wear. For example, when we did the headshots for this Private Wealth Advisors team page they informed all staff to wear black jackets with white shirts. We'll certainly help give suggestions on what to wear if needed.
#2. For product photography there is so much to consider. We'll cover this in your initial consultation of course. However, starting to think about the look of the product shots as it relates to your branding is very important. For example, white backdrop behind a product can be very clean, simple and modern but also might lack a sense of touch and personality. Where as a product photographed on a wooden slab with rustic elements will give a warmer vibe to the scene. When working on product photography for Ideal Granola, we decided to use the latter, so that it would look more inviting and delicious the way it would look if freshly baked in your own kitchen.
#3. When shooting in your location, staging is key. If I photograph for an architect, for example, we will be sure that the home/building owner does a list of items to the space we're going to photograph. If it is your own office, ask staff to help stage it the day prior so it is ready for us upon arrival. It should be properly cleaned, any stray items or clutter put away, all "temporary" items like post it notes removed, and some live or colorful elements like fruit and plants added. A conference room that is dark and does not have a lot of windows can be dramatically improved with a vase of fresh flowers on the bookshelf and a bowl of fruit on the table. An office with a computer on the desk should be turned on, with all sensitive material closed/hidden on the screen. Be sure the computer's desktop icons are properly aligned and tidy. There should be a few papers/work items on the desk to show it is "in use" but not so much that it looks messy or cluttered. A steaming cup of coffee in a bright colored mug and a bowl of candy can be a nice colorful addition for a pop of color. All pillows should be fluffed, throw blankets properly laid out, glass wiped free of smudges and carpets swept. A nice addition to help tie it all together is to consider making all colorful items that you add coordinate with the company's logo. For example, if your logo is purple and teal, consider purple tulips in a few vases throughout your building and teal coffee cups. If there is art on the walls, be sure to straighten all the frames. Consider whether or not you want to keep or remove personal photos that will be shown when the room is photographed. If you are stuck, we're happy to help you stage your space or even refer you to a staging company for the best result possible.
#4. Look for volunteers to be in the photos. If you plan to incorporate photos of you working with clients, you'll need "clients". They should be people who are already customers ideally, so that you can showcase them on your site. It is a great way to genuinely display what you do. Be sure to give them pointers on what to wear, how to have their hair styled, and if they'll need any props. If your building/business should be full of people such as a retail shop, ask some people to come to the shoot who will be extras in the backgrounds of photos. Your business should look open, lively, and booming. Not empty or closed.
Well thought out branding is so important in the marketing of your business. The photography is a key element in that process which should not be ignored. When putting so much effort into every aspect of what you do, why skimp on the final part that can truly tie it all together? To me, that is like putting together a puzzle and stopping when you just have one piece left! Remember step #1 above.... when a potential client visits your website for the first time, what is the impression they are getting?