They say photography is a dying art. Cameras are so available to the masses—from the miniscule shutter available on your iPhone to semi-professional DSLRs available at the nearest big box store—I can see why it’s a common thought. Look through a hole, click a button; not hard, right?
But stop for a second, and think of any professional website you’ve ever visited that really impressed you. Did it have blurry, dark or grainy images of the products the company offers, unflattering photos of their professionals, or downright poor pictures of their facilities? Or did it have clean, bright imagery of products, inviting photos of their spaces and professional, up-to-date headshots of the people you’re giving your money to? I’d put money on the latter.
They say a picture’s worth a thousand words. I say it can be worth a thousand bucks (or even a million) to a small business. With that in mind, when you look at your website, what do your photos say?
If they’re iPhone photos, do they say—we didn’t have the budget? We didn’t prioritize our marketing but we have a sweet Keurig in the office and awesome uniforms for our company softball team? We didn’t want to spend money on our business so why should you! It should be obvious why low-quality, low-resolution photos taken in poor lighting do not do your business justice.
If your site is plastered in stock photos, do they say, we didn’t want to spend the money to personalize this? These will be good enough? If you want to check out our offices/spa/services, you’re going to have to come do the legwork yourself? Savvy clients like to familiarize themselves with the professionals and products in whose services they’re investing. For example, it helps to have friendly-looking photos of massage therapists, clear and flattering imagery of clothing or products, bright and tasty looking photos of food and images that sell your brand rather than a generic, nondescript service or product. It helps them visualize the experience they will have and get more comfortable with the idea of giving you their business.
It can be a call to action, too. If you’re selling something less tangible it’s even more important to have the type of photos that sell a lifestyle or inspire people to come to you. If you don’t sell your specific brand why would a client choose you over the next generic, slightly-lower-priced competitor?
Tahoe Production House, in conjunction with Jen Schmidt Photography, offers full business photography packages, and recently we put together a two-day photo shoot for our new client, Sierra Smiles. Sierra Smiles has two locations, one in Reno and one in South Lake Tahoe, and wanted a refresh on his marketing. For several weeks beforehand we discussed locations and the right look and feel of what we wanted these photos to be.
Then came the shoot. At 7 a.m. each day we were on site with our makeup artist, preparing and figuring out our game plan. 968 Park Hotel was kind enough to host us for our Tahoe portion, and for the Reno day we photographed at the dentistry office and Bartley Ranch Park.
And we captured everything. Dr. Bocchi had patients lined up and scheduled meticulously so we could run everything efficiently and photograph his testimonials’ portraits as well as his staff’s headshots. Happy, smiling faces with beautiful pearly whites. Photos of pinecones, the lake, and the Reno/Tahoe area for the website to illustrate the market and the incredible place we live.
Dr. Bocchi’s kiddos even made an appearance, and we photographed them hugging and kissing their dad, smiling happily into the camera. What a wonderful way to humanize a person whose industry strikes fear in the hearts of even the bravest among us. And at the end of each day we ended in each respective office, photographing the amenities, equipment and spaces. Now he will have photographs of actual patients and work he has done, kids happily digging in the treasure chest after a great appointment, and his friendly, professional staff.
People fall in love with great products, but more often, they fall in love with great brands. Photography can be your best friend or your worst enemy in branding. One of the most incredibly successful photographers in my industry has a theory that if you look the part—drive an expensive car, dress in well-tailored clothing, invest in your business’s image—potential clients will see your success and choose to invest in you because you must be doing a great job, that’s why you’re so successful—right? I’m not saying you must go out and buy a Mercedes today—I myself am partial to Subarus. I am saying though, that if you invest a little time and capital in a professional photo shoot for your business it will be returned tenfold, or more.
Go ahead, ask yourself: what do you really want the imagery on your website to say about you?
written by Jen Schmidt