In the past 20 years, we have seen a remarkable shift in technology, giving business owners tools like printer copiers, desktop publishing and spreadsheet software, high quality cameras no bigger than a deck of cards, and so on.
Being able to do it yourself is often valuable, especially when you are in a pinch if the employee or contractor is not immediately available. However, unless you trained as a graphic designer, photographer, accountant, or web-master, you may not get the quality you need to achieve the professional standard necessary to inspire trust and confidence from your market.
In my communications work, I often focus on choosing the best word or phrase to present what my client’s business offers to their customers. But when words aren’t enough, we turn to photos and illustrations to show exactly what they are selling.
Given how important photography can be to marketing and selling in business, it surprises me sometimes how willing some business owners are to rely on photos taken by friends, colleagues, or even themselves for their business images.
At face value, the do-it-yourself approach seems a simple enough and cheaper route, especially given the extremely high quality some digital cameras can give the layperson.
What many people may not know is that even that level of quality is not good enough for printing or reproducing in marketing materials. Another consideration is the composition of the photo itself, regardless of the digital quality.
Professional photographers think about the angles, the lighting, and the cropping. They remember to look for shadows, inconvenient lines, and inappropriate backgrounds. They look for the crooked scarf, the bunched up sweater, and even the disappearing lipstick.
A great photo can convey so much to the viewer. It can sell, provoke interest, or persuade action. It can create a mood, evoke an emotion, or inspire confidence.
A poor quality photo tells a different story, suggesting a lack of care. It may not be able to tell any story at all if the images are blurry, highly pixilated, poorly composed, or full of shadows.
Investing in high quality product shots makes all the difference in telling the story of your business. And if your business relies on your personal brand to communicate quality, trust and confidence, then the photos of you as the owner need to be top quality and current as well.
We use photos in many different contexts: on social networks, in conference guides, on websites, and in traditional media as well. The photos you choose to share need to maintain the quality of your brand and need to be appropriate to the context.
For example, it’s okay to use casual shots of a staff party on your intranet because the audience is restricted or to use employee pictures of a community event on your Facebook page because the message is about engagement and community participation. It’s not a good idea to crop the same photo and use the partial image of yourself as your avatar (image) on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Remember to invest in quality photography for your product and yourself. Refresh the image of you personally every 12 to 18 months. Think about the ways you can use photography creatively to tell the story of your company and your leadership.
If a picture is worth a 1000 words, think about the stories you are telling with your images.
Martha Muzychka, ABC is principal of Praxis Communications, an independent communications, media relations and policy research consultancy. Connect with Martha online on her Twitter or LinkedIn accounts.