How to find the perfect corporate photographer

September 11, 2019
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There’s no doubt about it, we’re all photographers now. Just as social media and blogging made publishers and authors of us all, so the phone in our pocket has opened up a whole new world of opportunity when it comes to the humble photograph.

Let’s be honest, for those of us who grew up with Polaroid and Kodak Instamatic cameras and 35mm film, still find it quite difficult to fully appreciate the scale of what even the oldest iPhone or Android phone cameras make possible.

But however stunning your holiday snaps may now have become, everything is relative … and you shouldn’t be fooled into thinking your mobile phone camera can cut it as a go-to solution for your corporate visual identity.

Not that such things deter everybody, of course. I’m not going to name names here, but if you canter through some random websites it won’t take you long to find an example of a business that decided to save on cost by doing its own website photography.

And okay, I get that hiring a professional photographer is going to mean finding a budget, but there’s simply no getting away from the fact that, in this context at least, the net result of cutting costs is that you end up cutting corners.

And while that saves you money in the short term, it costs you integrity over time.

There’s an old saying in business that you never get a second chance to make a first impression, and never is a first impression more telling than in the way you represent your business visually.

Quite simply, the images that tell your brand story on your website are not a design ‘nice to have’. They’re not making up the numbers by filling up space when you’ve run out of words to put there. I’m not even I’m not sure it’s possible to overstate this but let me have a go:

Having great images on your website – not just good images, great ones – is beyond critical if you want your business to be successful.

We could, at this point, have a long debate about the merits or otherwise of library images versus mobile phone camera images versus professional images, but stock photography is a whole different blog for a whole different day.

And it’s a pointless debate anyway, because there’s really no argument. Think about it like a poker game: professional corporate photography is like playing a royal flush against the pair of twos that is stock imagery and the busted flush that is a mobile phone gallery.

Bottom line? A royal flush always tanks everything else.

So if professional corporate photography is the answer to the question of what sort of imagery you should use to promote your business, the next question is around how you go about finding a professional corporate photographer who can do the job.

Well, you’re reading this blog, so you could just call me and we could chat through what you need. But you know what? In the end, photography is art – and just because someone is recognised as a great artist means everyone has to like their work.

Personally, I don’t ‘get’ Hieronymus Bosch, yet in March this year someone paid close to a million bucks for his work The Temptation of St Anthony, proving that there’s no accounting for taste.

Not that I think I’m a great artist. But you get the point I’m trying to make here. At the risk of stretching the analogy too thin, your photographer is your artist, your website is your corporate home and the web images you use are the pictures you choose to hang on its walls. You have to like them, to engage with them and to believe they say something unique about you.

That means finding a photographer whose work speaks to you on some visceral, unconscious level. So how to find such a person to hold the creative heart of your brand?

Here are some tips to make the search more productive (we’ll take it as read that it would be crass to suggest you head over to  www.elizabethkeates.com and check out my work, so I won’t do that):

  1.  Do your research: Have you seen a good chunk of their portfolio? Do you like their style? A great photographer should be able to show you at least 10 images you love, so if you find you’re only loving one or two, then maybe move on and look elsewhere.
  2. Check the client list: What do you want to photograph and how much work have they done in that sector? Remember that photographing a building isn’t the same as capturing a bride’s first marital kiss
  3. Read the collaboration runes: If you get to the point of moving on to a conversation with a photographer, you’ll need to read their attitude and approach. Are they collaborative? Will they listen to you, or is it all about their own vision? Do they understand what you want your image to say to the world? An outstanding photographer will probably show you mood boards and agree the concept before they start shooting. If the photographer you’re talking to is keen to just turn up on the day then you’re gambling (and probably not with a royal flush in your hand).
  1. Flexibility and advice: What we see and what the camera records are two very different things, so a great photographer will always offer you advice and show you on the back of the camera what your image is going to look like in the current set up. And naturally, if for some reason the shoot isn’t going to work as you both intended, you want someone behind the camera who’s agile enough to be able to adapt positively and creatively to changing dynamics.
  2. What about you? Regardless of how talented the photographer might be, do you feel like you have a connection with them? Are you able to communicate your own vision in a way that they understand and will allow them to give you what you want at the end of the process?
  3. Peace of mind: Finally, is your photographer a member of a professional regulatory body like The Guild of Photographers? If things do go wrong – which they shouldn’t if your photographer is experienced – accreditation to a recognised body gives you some financial protection and an independent third party to talk to.

Finding a great commercial photographer should be fun. It should be like walking through a gallery and viewing art. You’ll like some, others not so much. But finding someone who can give you the perfect image for your brand – well, that’s a thrill all on its own.

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