A Picture’s Worth a Thousand Words, and a Few Extra Bucks

by on June 11, 2013

Why it’s a good idea to hire a photographer when updating your website.

On a daily basis I am searching high and low on my list of affordable stock photography websites looking for the “it” image for one of my customers’ designs. After about an hour of sifting through a few hundred thousand images and 25 different keywords or phrases strung together (such as smiling salesman advertising his product), I shake my head and wish my client would have taken the plunge to get some original photography done to go with their sparkling new custom website (or brochure, business card, poster, etc.). Not because it will save me from banging my head on my keyboard a few hundred thousand times when I can’t find what I’m looking for (although it would be very thoughtful if that were the case)…but because no amount of copy or stock photos cut, pasted and photoshopped together can explain such a unique business as an original image shot by an experienced photographer.

So, here is a short list of why I think it’s TOTALLY WORTH IT to hire a photographer when you decide to update your website:

1. You get to show off! Tell your story. No stock photo is going to be able to explain what you do better than real images of your product, your services, your employees and your family. Each business has a story all its own. A family-owned business should have a photo of the family (makes a customer feel all warm and fuzzy inside to be supporting small family businesses). If your business doesn’t necessarily have a “product”—highlight your employees and your office location—that’s what sets you apart from the rest—your company is fun, modern, energetic and local—show off your best traits to get your customers excited to call you and work with you.

2. You’re adding value and a positive reputation to your brand. Your online customers know the difference between an original photo and stock—believe it or not. How many times have you seen this customer service representative next to some company’s phone number on their website?If you like a stock photo, chances are 100 other people like it too (and have already purchased it and used it). Take the time with your designer to plan photography on your website accordingly. Your customers will appreciate seeing the real you.

3. Creative and original artwork. Your designer and photographer will help you the whole way in creating the best look and style for your photos. Is your business conservative or a little more edgy? Your photos can show and explain that. Stock photography, on the other hand, is meant to satisfy as many different types of businesses as it can—it’s the only way a stock photographer makes money—by selling their photos to as many people and businesses as possible.

4. A consistent image across all media. The photos you end up taking can be used for just about ANYTHING to represent your brand—advertising, promotional materials, social media, you name it. These photos will be worth every penny you invest in them. Promise.

5. A lasting memory. The faces and personalities of your company are by far the most memorable parts about working with small and local businesses. Even if you never get to meet your customer in person, putting a face to a name speaks volumes today. Have a company-wide picture day, most of your employees will detest it (wah, wah), but your customers will love checking everyone out. If your company has too many employees or a high turnover rate, then photographing the owners and managers may be a better option than a photo of all employees. Also consider this tidbit when taking any group photos—if someone leaves, you’d hate to have to take a new group shot.

Now, I’m not writing this to totally bash stock photography, because quite frankly, stock photography makes my life so much easier! I can use stock photos as photo research for an upcoming shoot, and really portray both to my client and my photographer what it is we’re “chasing,” in terms of composition and overall look and feel of that particular brand.

There are going to be times where you just need a photo to fill a space, add some color, or illustrate an idea…and that’s okay! Stock photos can be used to supplement your business’ image, mix in a little diversity, or show something you just can’t physically or economically get a picture of any other way. The point is, never rely on stock photography 100% to portray your entire brand—you don’t want to look like a phony.
I cannot stress enough to my customers how important original photography can be to their image, brand and reputation. Not to mention how much BETTER it is to see real people, real products and a real office or commercial location! Why would I want to see a photo of some fancy high rise building (probably not even located in the US) when you’re a Mom and Pop shop in the suburbs? Embrace what your company is, and show it off!

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