How often do businesses work on the assumption that anyone can take a good photo that truly demonstrates their product or service? In reality, this is not so often the case. Don’t get me wrong, mobile phones can take brilliant photographs, just as good as professional DSLR or mirrorless cameras. It is not so much about the actual image as it is about the thought that goes into taking the photograph in the first place. And what the image will be used for.
In today’s fast paced digital environment, so much of what businesses talk about, both on their owned media – website, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram or Facebook – or with journalists will be communicated just as much with the images they supply as it is with the words they write. Therefore, having professional, well planned, appropriate photos that can be used on your website as well as to accompany news announcements or social media posts should be seen as a priority and not a simple ‘add on’.
But why do they have to be taken by a professional?
They don’t. However, the more photographs you take that don’t represent your brand, can’t be used on your website, aren’t the right resolution or size for a journalist, the more time you have wasted. Trying to achieve something that almost certainly has cost you as much in time as it would to pay for a photographer to take, edit and supply what you needed in the first place, is probably not the best use of your time.
Quality imagery that represents your brand helps tell your story. Stock images are fine, but impersonal have so often been seen before and don’t help your customers understand your business. If you have poor quality images on your website – so often the first port of call for those searching for you on the internet – what does that say about the quality of your business. And if you’re promoting what you do or sell via social media, bear in mind that every platform has its own requirement for optimum image size. No two are the same, even those with the same parent company.
What do I mean about optimising photography for your business?
Much of my work is in the commercial property sector, promoting office, industrial and retail property on behalf of agents. Residential estate agents, almost without exception, use professional photographers to take photos that can be used on a brochure, online or via email. Not all commercial agents do. It can often be difficult to get access and photographing people at work isn’t ideal, but there are work arounds, especially with empty space.
Once a new instruction is received to market a property, while the particulars and contract are being drawn up, photos should also be taken. There’s no point in advertising a property without an image to accompany the words. It’s impossible to image what it might look like. And it’s at this point that the thought about what will work best for the building really comes into play. Right now there are a lot of empty high street shops, out of town offices and industrial spaces. Some will be easy to photograph because of their location, immediate surrounding and décor; others not. Unlike portrait photography, you can’t simply Photoshop out the bad bits, so planning how best to achieve a photograph that will work the best for the property has never been more important.
My top tips are:
- Time of day – can you get out early or late so there are fewer people or obstacles in the way? Depending on the season / weather this can be more difficult, but worth making the time to do
- Display board – have you managed to get your board up, so potential buyers or tenants can see that you are marketing that particular property
- Angle – if the property is on a slope, make sure you adjust how you take the photograph to ensure the building is correctly positioned
- Immediate surroundings – make sure (where possible) that rubbish is removed, unnecessary cars are not in front of where you want to photograph and even number plates are not on full display
- Internal – lighting, do you need a flash or off camera lighting so the whole space is evenly lit.
- Portrait or landscape – most buildings will need to be photographed to produce landscape images as these usually work best on websites, most social platforms and the media, but not well for Instagram so think about a specific feature that could be photographed both ways.
I’ve touched on image resolution but spare a thought for where you are posting your photographs. While the original needs to be high resolution (most professional photographers will shoot in RAW which is like a ‘digital negative’ and the original files can be upwards of 25mb), the edited image doesn’t need to be such a large file to still be very useable.
Website images certainly don’t need to be too large as they will slow the site down considerably because they take a long time to load. Likewise social media posts don’t need 20mb images. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and to a lesser extent LinkedIn compress everything before you can ‘click’ post. Understanding how each platform works and sticking to the rules will give you a much better result.
Journalists on the other hand really do appreciate sensibly sized images which can be reproduced both online and in the printed paper. More often than not, images of between 1mb-2mb in a landscape format work best. If asked, they usually prefer one or two images that have been correctly captioned sent with an announcement. Should they want more, they will ask you for them or for a link where they can download what they need. Not sending any images, is in my view a mistake. While they may not use them, without them they may not run the story. As the old adage goes ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’.
Treat photography as an investment
I know I am biased as I also work as a photographer, but investing in photography for your business should be seen as an integral part of your long term marketing strategy. All the images you will receive can be used and repurposed as your business develops, meaning nothing is wasted.
To find out more – get in touch [email protected]
To view corporate and real estate images – Corporate and Real Estate Photography