A lot of companies use “stock” images or have a staff member do the photos to save money – but does the return on investment add up? Here’s some top reasons to use a professional photographer to create the images.
Show your customer who you actually are.
If you scan a post, website, add, etc, you pretty much can tell an image is stock or done cheaply – you might not ‘think’ about it but you know it’s there in the back of your mind. But when you see an image of the actual people, the actual location, the actual products – you know it; and that helps create a feeling of honesty and trust.
If a Picture is Worth 1000 Words: make sure they are the RIGHT 1000 words.
A photo shot well says you pay attention to detail, can be trusted to be professional, that you don’t accept “It’s Good ENOUGH” – because we all know ‘good enough’ is not best, highest quality, or truly professional.
The Biggest Danger of Stock
It happens more often than you’d think. You or your designer find a great stock image that says exactly what you want to say. Then a few days later you’re looking at a competitor’s site – and they have the same image. They too thought it was the perfect image.
You probably don’t know what you don’t know.
Back in the days I was doing Graphic Design as my career (often using my photography in the projects I did for clients) – I had an engineer say “Why would I pay for your service when I can get PageMaker and have my secretary build it?” That was pretty common in those days. However most companies stopped doing that because they soon realized it looked amateur and didn’t reflect well on their reputation.
Personally – I have a basic knowledge of AutoCAD, and I’m pretty mechanically inclined. I could design a bridge, or an office tower using that program. I’m betting it would even stand up – for a while. BUT there’s a lot I don’t know about in how to make sure it stays standing up in all reasonable conditions. Would you want to walk across a four lane traffic bridge that I designed? Without spending many more years in school – I sure wouldn’t want to use that bridge myself.
So how does that relate to good images? Why doesn’t an iPhone or even decent dSLR picture cut it when advertising your business?
A Matter Of Light
Does the person taking the picture have a thorough understanding of light in order to make the person, product or place look their best? Most people don’t really understand the difference between good light and mediocre light – but here’s a test for you. Look at the photos contacts you have on LinkedIN – some will stand out on the page and some will look ‘flat.’ Some will even have dark circles in their eye sockets – something we photographers call ‘racoon eyes.’ Some will be ever so slightly out of focus.
Even in static subjects like interiors – do the photos include the details outside the windows and doors or are they blindingly white? Doe you get a sense of the natural light and/or the lighting created by the design of the space, or just getting flat ‘on camera’ flash.
Cool, calm, and COMPOSED
Does the person taking the image understand composition. Is the image flat and lifeless with the subject dead centre or does the image create movement, leading your eyes through the image instead of randomly bouncing around.
The Camera Lies
The worst part is that the camera lies – or at least doesn’t tell the truth that you need to show. It hides the important information – what your personality is like, what is important to you – while exaggerating features you’d rather minimize. It’s called The Frozen Face Effect by psychology researchers.
A great camera is a wonderful tool and I use some of the best gear, but in the wrong hands it just captures the wrong details in higher resolution.
Does the person taking the image understand coaching so that – if it’s a person in the image – the subject has the right expression and is ‘animated’ and comfortable? Is there really good eye contact in the image, or is the subject slightly glassy eyed. Is the expression slightly forced or is there a natural smile? A lot of people say the best photos of them are when they are unaware of the photographer and are photographed candidly. They’ve never had a photographer who could coach them properly in order to look their best and have lighting plus composition that works to make the photo believable.
My job as a photographer is to create a photo that looks the way people remember you when talking, not the static, lumpy image that camera’s actually capture.