Friday, 27 March 2015

Tips for Getting the Best Possible Photos for Your Business

Spring has sprung, the grass has riz, its time to take photos.
Written by Robyn T. Braley 


Photographs are a highly effective way to tell your story through websites, social media, brochures, advertising and other media. They speak directly to potential customers by providing a window into your brand. 


Photos provide a great way to start building relationships with potential customers. But, as we have discovered at Unimark Creative, they don't just happen by accident!

We have been blessed with exceptional still photo talent. My intention was to include a photo credit with each picture used in this post but space doesn't allow it. So I have to acknowledge Peter Fleck, Roy Ooms, Dave Lazarowych, John Dean, Meg Braley and Laureen Braley for their exceptional work in helping Unimark raise above the competition. 


Peddie Roofing Crew on a tall building.
It's True, It's True
You've heard it a gazillion times, ‘A picture is worth 1,000 words.’ Well, it’s true. A great photo will;
  • Inspire
  • Motivate
  • Captivate
  • Communicate
  • Engage

A poor photo also speaks volumes. It may suggest that your company does not adhere to the high quality standards you say it does.

For example, photos of people that are poorly composed, poorly lit, out of focus, poorly setup or don’t accurately reflect what they do are harmful.  

As a writer, it pains me to admit that a great photo can tell your story better than the best copywriter could ever tell it about...

Operator using a Pem Setter at Grant Metal Products
  • You
  • Your people
  • Your products
  • Your factory
  • Your showroom
  • Your capabilities
  • Your service


Photos - Marketing Currency 

In my view, budget for photography is a must when identifying tools for building your brand. I suggest that my clients create a company photo archive or bank. That causes them to think differently about their collection rather than tying a photo shoot to a specific project like a brochure, website or advertisement.

This is the reality. In the age of media convergence, photos have become the currency of all forms of marketing.

  • Websites
    Fabricating the superstructure for a giant VRU
     at HC Piper Manufacturing. 
  • Print projects
  • Advertising
  • Social media
    • Blogs
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • LinkedIn
    • Pintrest
    • Flickr
    • 100s More
  • Public relations
  • Trade shows
  • Slide shows
  • This photo shot for Chisholm Mechanical accompanied
    an Alberta Construction Magazine story 
  • Proposals


Connecting to the Soul

Allan Helpin of Movin Air Sheet Metal discusses a job.

A good photo connects emotionally with viewers. It influences them by stimulating a series of emotions as they are exposed to images that relate your product or service to their hearts and minds. Great photos speak to the soul.

They also speak to relevance and value. They fast track the marketing model of;
  • Know
  • Like
  • Trust
  • Engage

Award winning image at Artistic Stairs is a 
blend of 3 separate photos.


Lipstick on a Pig

Don’t let our photographers read this but I believe photos drive all other brand elements like design and text. To put it simply, it’s impossible to overcome a really bad photo with exceptional design or a well written description. You can make the photo seem better, but you can’t make it great.

Let’s get another myth out of the way. Photo shopping is meant to make great photos even better, not “rescue” images that are out of focus, shot from the wrong angle surrounded by clutter or poorly lit.

Our designer has created some photo shopping miracles. But you can never really overcome a poor quality photo as your starting point.  You just can’t put lipstick on a pig.

Just Take the Darned Picture

I have fessed up to not being a professional photographer. That being said, I have taken photos using a goof proof point and shoot camera for media stories. Some went across Canada accompanying stories that developed. The story, with the photo, was also picked up by auto and truck magazines in the USA and Europe. 

I took the photo (below) as part of a series for a company newsletter. I had pitched a story about my client to the Edmonton Journal some weeks before. 

I got a call about 3:00 pm asking if I had any photos I could send by 4:00. I sent what I had and the rest, as they say, is history. By the way, the camera cost $500.00. 
  
Alternative Fuel Systems truck with catalytic converter.

Sad Story about Sad Photos

We’ve been in the marketing and communications industry for over twenty years. A former client commissioned a website that had a five figure budget.

The thrill of hearing the project was going ahead was suddenly dampened by those cold chilling words,
We won’t need the photo budget. We have lots of pictures shot by our site foremen.” The overall impact of the website was doomed before it started.”  
This  is what happened. The client definitely had hundreds of photos. After assigning a staff person to “pick out the good ones,” they gave up in frustration and paid us to choose the best of the worst and categorize them.

Then we had to assemble them into huge binders so they could be identified for relevance. In the end, we spent hours photoshopping the final selections. After all of that, we still did not have a collection that accurately told their story.  

Epoke Sanders are outfitted and ready
for delivery to a Cubex customer.

Photo Strategy

As marketers, developing the overall strategy makes taking the photos only part of the process.
  • We identify what parts will contribute to the whole story
  • We tour each setup to identify setup requirements
  • We determine lighting needs
  • We prepare the staff with dress requirements (no competitor or brewery logos on caps or shirts)
  • We prepare each location (take down pictures of naked ladies or remove proprietary drawings from desks or drafting boards) and remove visual clutter
  • We make sure safety gear, fork lifts, raw material and other props are there
  • We prepare a shot list that is organized for efficiency and optimized creative outcomes


Telling the Story

One large manufacturing client uses 5 different engineering disciplines. 
Engineering doesn't need to be subbed out which can effect quality control, costs and production timelines.

To the casual observer, our photo was of a room full of people working at computers. To the company sales people, the picture provided a useful tool showcasing a key benefit. 

When combined with plant photos showing the fabrication capabilities, their potential customers could form an idea of whether my client could do the work.  

Precision machining at Desa Glass

Putting it to the Test

The best way to wrap up this post and demonstrate the outcomes of our approach is by providing examples. Our Unimark Creative portfolio includes photos shot exclusively by our photographers. A few projects include client supplied images.

Your Opinion Matters

Please share your comments below. What have I missed in this post? Do you have tips?   

Robyn T. Braley is a writer, speaker and occasional media guest. He is the President of UniMark Creative which does website design, video production, media services (editorial and advertising), and graphic design. He speaks at business conferences and also blogs about branding. 

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