A woman takes a photo of another woman skipping rocks

Your Marketing Photography

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

Head­shot Day

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.

Workplace/Product imagery

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.


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