I am on a mission
This is an exercise that will explore the importance of hiring a photographer who's sole job is to make you and your business look great.
Here is an image of a man. Take a quick look at the image and then blurt out where you think the man is while the photo is being made.
The internet is a wonderful thing, mostly. Private individuals and businesses are using it to connect on a global scale. People use the internet to do amazing things and also to get mundane tasks completed, like shopping and researching products they are interested in.
For the past month or so, I've been researching the various businesses in order to find potential prospects for my photography services. Small and medium sized businesses primarily.
Here's what I've found out.
People are lazy. Yes, even business managers and owners. They feel like they are obligated to put up a website because that is the "normal" thing to do. Sure, they hire a site developer or maybe a design firm to get it done. But that's where things usually leave their scope of interest. I get it, they've got daily tasks to attend to.
But, in doing so, they are forgetting to pay attention to the fine details. The details such as branding.
They forget that the first impression, and one that is more and more being formed within a few seconds of seeing a company website, can make or break the flow of a client once they've entered the sales funnel.
Think about this, if you were to post a personal headshot on the internet, in the hopes of securing a job, a date or whatever is your interest, you would probably post the best image of you that you could get together. Right? (I sincerely hope you would). Well, then why would you waste your web page by posting sub-standard images of your business in the internet?
Did you pay for your website? Are you expecting people to feel confident in your abilities based on the horrible images of your staff? Studies have proven time and again, that a viewer forms an opinion of a person in a photograph within 3 seconds of seeing it. Wouldn't you want to assure that that impression is a positive one?
Let's get back to the photo of the man above.
What was your first thought? Was it a jailhouse lineup?
(that was mine)
Well, you are incorrect. I won't reveal who he is or where he works, but this is a staff photo.
I know that he and his employer deserve much better.
When you take a close look at your staff photos, be sure that they leave a positive impression with the viewer. Your business is one step closer to closing a sale by telling visitors to your site that this is a good place to be. A good place run by welcoming, professional people. Don't take the chance of ruining all the effort you put into your business every day by posting unprofessional images.
What did I learn?
Whenever I complete a job for a client, or even for myself, I sit down and make a brief statement of what I learned before, during and after the shoot.
The latest job, for Holiday Ford in Peterborough, was no different. After the shoot I unpacked all my equipment, re-charged all the batteries and made my list of things that I learned.
I like to complete this process as soon as I am done and before I get into the editing process. In fact the editing or retouching is usually set aside for at least a night. I feel that I often perform better after a good night' sleep. This results in better images and happier clients.
So, what did I learn?
In this case I learned that I need to invest in a more powerful flash system to deal with the bright sunshine. Shooting groups of people where the light needs to spread over a wide group, requires either a multitude of small flashes or, 2 to 3 large lights with either portable battery packs or built in power supplies. Either way, I am looking at what could be a substantial financial investment. (the key here is "investment")
I also learned that I need to have access to a skilled assistant or two. (Thank you Ernie for being available and for providing your invaluable assistance.) Why did I choose Ernie? The main reason is that as a photographer with years of experience, he was able to anticipate what I needed, and offered valuable input. This is important in being able to get the job done on time with a minimum of hiccups. (and yes, we did have a hiccup) Hiring an assistant can be problematic in smaller communities compared to larger metropolitan areas. There just aren't that many around. In this case, I utilized the Facebook Groups which are made up of local photography enthusiasts, pros and semi-professionals. I posted a request for an assistant, and Ernie was one of 3 people who raised their hand.
I learned that generally being pleasant with the portrait subjects is very important. They are nervous and probably uncomfortable having a lens aimed at them, even if just for 2 to 5 minutes. It's intimidating to say the least. Engaging in brief conversation and getting them to communicate makes them relax and even enjoy the experience.
There are a couple of additional points that were in my post-shoot notes, but you probably get the idea of what sort of thing I make note of after my shoots.
I would advise every photographer to do a similar review after every shoot. I know that when I do it, I certainly gain insight into how I can improve moving forward. It takes just a few minutes and you can only benefit from doing it. Shoot, reflect, improve. It's a valuable process and an inexpensive investment in your business.
Photo-Artist working a personal vision.
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