We live in an era of social media scrolling, and nothing can grab your attention better than a compelling photograph. As a former journalist, and for the last 15 years a still photographer, I’ve learned how important it is to think strategically about photography and how images are used in the marketing of your business. Having great, professional images on hand will allow you to tell your story and market your business much faster — and more effectively — than you could explain it using just words.
When to Call the Professionals
Professional headshots are an essential part of your business toolkit. When viewed on your company website, headshots allow clients to build a connection between a name, a face, and your brand. A current headshot should always be included when sharing news of employee promotions or accomplishments through news releases or social media. In a business “news of note” type article, it’s easy to completely miss an article without a photo; it’s the photo that draws your attention to it.
Do headshots have to be boring? Absolutely not! If it’s in the budget, consider hiring a photographer who can provide multiple headshot options: a clean background for standard press releases, and more interesting, creative headshots for sharing on your website or social media channels. Successful images of this type can offer insight into your employees and even your company culture.
Think ahead. Are there teams working on something potentially newsworthy? Use your company headshot day to grab any group photos you might need in the near future. This will prevent scrambling for a last-minute photo with your phone. Just please work with your photographer in advance to ensure everyone is on the same page and knows what to expect out of this day. Adding in extras on the day of the shoot is not doing justice to your business reputation, your brand, or that of your photographer.
So, you’ve scheduled a day for company headshots, how about also arranging to have a professional photographer capture some documentary-style candid workplace photos featuring diverse groups of employees? I know you can’t see into the future, but when you put your mind to it, it’s not too hard to make a list of the kinds of images you might need or want for your business.
A restaurant, for example, might want tight shots of raw ingredients, behind the scenes in the kitchen during meal-prep, or maybe it’s a nicely set table before opening for the evening. A manufacturing plant, on the other hand, might consider showing employees clocking in for the work day, gloved hands moving products along an assembly line, or pallets of packages ready for distribution.
Having a strong portfolio of these kinds of images allows you the ability to control your own narrative. If your business is featured in media, you now have pre-approved images to provide to anyone who might ask for them. And should you care to toot your own horn, these images can be much more engaging than a headshot on your own social media channels.
An independent school I work with was recently featured by their local community business magazine. The magazine writer wanted to use photos of empty spaces within the building for the article. Instead, the school was able to provide my colorful, full-of-life images taken during the school year, and one of those even ended up on the cover. This prime placement would not have been possible without those images.
And when our client, the City of Duluth, was recently featured in this Washington Post article as one of 10 outdoor adventure destinations, our provided professional photo of a mountain biker overlooking the city led the article and landed Duluth at the top of the list.
What kinds of images should you be gathering for your business image portfolio? The best answer is: a variety. When telling a story with photos (or video), it’s nice to show a wide shot, a medium shot, and a tight shot to help set the scene. Horizontal and vertical options, when available, are also a plus. If you’re providing photos to a media outlet, their layout will affect which photo or photos are chosen. If you offer a bunch of great options, you’re more likely to get placement in an article.
Any camera is better than no camera.
Of course, it would be ideal to have a professional photographer on staff, or the budget to hire one for any event you might like to showcase, but that’s not always possible. If all you have is your phone camera, use it!
Three years ago, I traveled with former White House photographer Pete Souza on a 10-day photo tour of Portugal. Souza shared his photography expertise with me and a group of 25 fellow travelers. While Souza most often uses his Canon or Nikon cameras, he sees the iPhone as another tool, and on our trip he shared tips on using the iPhone editing features and photography apps to create the best images possible. If a professional like Pete Souza can use iPhone photos on his Instagram pages, so can you!
These are just a few things you should think about ahead of time to ensure photographic success.
- Make sure your lens is clean. Always keep a cleaning cloth handy and give your phone lens a good once-over at the same time you’re cleaning your eyeglasses (or at least wipe it on your shirttail before taking the shot).
- Be thoughtful about your composition. Where will this photo be used? Should I shoot horizontal or vertical? Then, go in tight the first time, as shooting wide and cropping later can result in a loss of image quality.
- If you can move your subject to better light, do it! Step out of that dark conference room and into some natural light. Have your subject face the light and then take the shot.
- Use the edit feature. It’s surprising what a little exposure or black point adjustment can do for an image. And straighten out those horizon lines while you’re at it!
Taking the time to think about your image beforehand could mean the difference between a shot you’ll want to share, and one that’s better left on your camera roll.