Archive for the ‘commercial photography’ Category
Although product photography is detailed work that takes time to get right, there are some significant steps you can take to ensure an efficient and successful photo shoot for your products, saving you time and money and leaving you with photos that you are thrilled about!
Here are my top 3 tips for a great value product shoot:
Tip #1: Have a vision and a plan
Take some time to write down what you want to see when you look at your product photos.
What mood or feeling do you want to create? Is it necessary to show your products in detailed and clinical clarity or do you want more evocative photography to convince people to buy? (Most people need a combination.)
Do you need to show your products in use to put them into context or show them at their best? (e.g. clothes look better on models; technical equipment can make more sense if a person is shown using it)
Some of my clients email me examples of competitor’s websites they admire, or photos they like or don’t like, or bring in clippings or scrapbooks of a concept. It’s not essential to do these things and I always ask questions designed to draw out the client’s goals for their shoot, but it helps to have the visual element.
I also always look at the layout and design of the website (or wherever the photos will end up) and look at how the collection can be arranged for consistency and high-impact.
Tip #2: Only products in tip top condition
This is the number one way to save money on your shoot. Ensure that the products to be photographed are in mint condition. If the photographer has to polish or clean up products it will stretch out the shoot time; if the products have even small dents, scratches, chips or stains you will pay for extra time after the shoot while each imperfection is edited out of each image one at a time.
Here are some BIG ones:
Price tags! If you don’t want the price tags or stickers in the shot and you haven’t removed them, you are literally paying for a photographer to stand there removing each sticky label. Crazy!!
And stains/wrinkles on fabric. This can be very hard to edit out of shots later, depending on the fabric and colour. Check your garments very carefully and have them freshly laundered and pressed before the shoot.
Tip #3: Get a production line going
We all know production lines save time, so a bit of planning and organisation goes a long way.
Choose your pieces to be photographed and group similar pieces together. If you are transporting them to the studio, carry them in a safe and organised way so that when you get there you can easily pull everything out for the photographer to access.
If you are combining pieces, such as piecing garments and jewellery together for a clothing shoot, try to have your combinations figured out ahead of time. I often help my clients with this sort of ‘styling’ but not all photographers do, and keep in mind it takes more time.
If you have stands or display cases you usually use and think could be incorporated into the photos, bring them along (and again, ensure they are in top condition).
Enjoy your product shoot!
If you’ve followed these steps you’ll be sure to have a stress-free, value-packed photo shoot with some gorgeous images to properly showcase and sell your products.
How an image sells a product
Have you seen a catalogue, ad or online shop with really good photos of products?
Think of the ‘what’s new’ or ‘top buys’ page in a glossy magazine. I’m talking about photos that clearly show what the product is, that make it stand out, and that make you want to buy it now. The sort of image where you feel you could literally pick the product up off the page and hold it in your hands.
As everyone knows (even if for some, they only know it deep down), slapping a product on a table and taking a quick snap with your phone is not the way these delectable images are achieved. I work with a lot of new businesses who understandably are on a tight budget and have started by taking their own shots before realising it was a far better use of their resources to hand the job over. The common cry I hear is, ‘It just took so much time to get a shot that just looked sort of ok!’ And with this comes disappointment because the vision, philosophy and hard work behind the business are not well represented in a bunch of DIY photos.
Good product photography takes considerable time and is detailed, finicky work. Here are some of the aspects that come into play:
Before anything else is done the products need to be in top condition. They come to me in a range of conditions and sometimes I can do a bit to clean them up e.g. polishing off fingerprints, and at other times there will be extensive post-production editing to remove imperfections. (Hint: If you want to save money, save the photographer time by only presenting items in mint condition.)
I call this ‘fiddling’. There’s a lot of arranging objects in groups or individually and turning them this way and that to achieve the best effects. I have a few tricks up my sleeve to arrange objects so they just seem to stand up by themselves, balance in a stack, or float in mid-air!
Closely related to styling, because every time you change the object’s position you inevitably have to change the lighting as well. Studio lights, reflectors and other professional equipment are used to create particular moods or effects, to highlight particular product features and to eliminate glare off reflective surfaces.
The way the camera is angled in relation to the object and how it is framed in the picture often determines the whole effect. Even a very slight tilt of the camera can completely change the way the product looks.
Design and layout
Photos are taken as a series of images that look consistent and suit the website design and the brand. Often I will also include variations on setups, such as teaming a bunch of images in different, artistic ways, to give the client choice but also to give them images they can use in more than one way. For example, you may want single shots of each product for the online shop but then an arty group shot of products for the home page. Or you may want clarity in the general product shots but want something more evocative to go in an ad.
So there you have it – the behind the scenes stuff that makes an image sell a product. Just like a website that works or a reliable cash register, product photos are something that businesses simply have to get right to make money!
With the overwhelming quantity of on-screen information available these days, companies are looking for a way to stand out and make a visual impact – knowing this is the quickest way to gain attention when attention spans are short.
My corporate clients are starting to seek photography with a difference – whether it be for profile photos or personalised ‘stock images’ for their websites – and one way we’re doing this is through editorial style photography.
What is an editorial style? If you’ve ever picked up a copy of In the Black, or another high-quality business magazine, you may have an idea. These are the images that go alongside a story – usually about business success – and offer more than just a visually boring head and shoulders shot. It could be an interesting angle, a backdrop such as a busy city street or elegant boardroom, or a simple prop such as an armchair that gives the photograph a fresh approach and something interesting to look at. Most of all these photographs tell a story themselves – and you can choose the story.
So why is an editorial style a good idea when investing in your corporate photography? Well we all know an image says a thousand words, and by thinking carefully about the words you want to say you can make the right impression and attract the right market. Photography that is edgy and fresh says the same about your company, and that can only be a good thing in a time of such fast-paced innovation.
There’s a lot you can do to ensure you have a great professional photo shoot… so take ownership to enjoy your shoot and get maximum ROI!
Before the shoot
- Check you understand what is expected of you – do you need to organise a running sheet, location, permissions… or is this being done for you by your photographer? Do you need to source particular ‘props’ or clothing?
- Do you know what to wear? We give our clients a tip sheet to help them feel informed about what looks good through the lens. If you are unsure, it’s much better to ask and be prepared than chance a guess at what will work and run the risk of being disappointed in your photos.
- Make sure you are clear on what is and isn’t included in your photography package – e.g. black and white editing, special effects, extra airbrushing… these are usually extras because they take time if done well
During your shoot
- Your photographer should guide you through the setups for each shot so you aren’t left wondering what to do. However, if you are unsure, ask for clarification or ideas. Don’t be afraid to contribute ideas of your own!
- Posing for photographs can be tiring. If you need a break, take it, or the strain will show on your face.
- Understand that excellent shots take time to set up. Unless you and your photographer are able to schedule extra time, don’t expect the photographer to ‘just quickly take a photo of …’ just because they have a camera in their hands. It is better to plan for a few quality setups than a long list of shots that you will both have to rush through.
After your shoot
- Check with your photographer what the next step is. Usually, this will involve post-production editing and delivery of work. To avoid a hold-up, ensure you abide by the terms of your agreement – such as paying your invoice on time.
- If you need the work by a certain date make sure you tell the photographer as early as possible – preferably at the time of booking the shoot. We finish our projects within two weeks of the shoot but if a client has let us know in advance that they need their work earlier, we usually can schedule it in to suit.
- Communicate with your photographer if there are any problems after your shoot. Photography is a subjective art and if the photos don’t meet your expectations for any reason, a good photographer wants to know this and try to make it right for you. If it’s a reasonable complaint or request, this usually doesn’t cost the client any more, so it’s worth touching base.
Maybe you already know that having professional photos of yourself is important to project the right image on Linked In or on your website. But perhaps you’re wondering just how much return there is from investment in a professional photo shoot for your business?
Ok, so first off every business is different and your return on investment in a shoot will depend on a lot of factors such as how well you prepare before your shoot, how good the photographer is both at their craft and at communication, how much you paid for the shoot, how many photos you receive and how well you leverage them in your marketing. However, one clear indication of return value is in how many ways you can use your photos to help build your brand and therefore your business.
I guess what I’m really doing here is demonstrating some of the many ways my clients use the photos I take for their business. While you may not use all of these, you should find – if you have a comprehensive marketing plan – that you can use the wide variety of photos from a New Work photo shoot in a wide variety of ways, for a long time to come!
So here are some ways my clients use their photographs to gain return on investment:
- On their websites – be it limited-edition stock photos, personalised ‘at work’ photos, profile photos, store shots or product catalogues – this is the obvious way to use your professional photos. Examples
- On Linked In profile – yours and your team members, plus company and group pages. Well done to these clients
- On their Facebook business page and in social media campaigns – heard of visual branding? Or showing samples of your work where a wide audience can see them? Clients doing this well
- On blogs – their own and others, a great way to get noticed. Examples from our clients
- In newsletters – people still read the good ones
- In advertising and print marketing collateral - don’t bother spending money on advertising unless it looks slick!
- PR – whether you are actively seeking media attention or not, you need to be prepared for when someone wants to interview you about your business. Part of this equals great professional photos of you and your work place, product or service, as well as major events your business has been involved in, or photos of you at work. Here’s some of our PR!
A little side note – when using photos on different websites and publications always check with the photographer if you are unsure on how to acknowledge the source. Although the photos are there for you to use, most photographers expect at least an acknowledgement somewhere on the page and in some cases (particularly with images of celebrities or fashion), use of watermarked versions. At New Work we have tried to find a balance between what is reasonable and easy for you and fair to us.
Everyone knows someone who’s won a ‘free’ photographic shoot through a competition or through unsolicited mail, only to find it isn’t free at all. At the very least, you are afraid of hidden costs that are slapped on your forehead after you’ve been ‘hooked in’, and you suddenly find yourself committed to a four-hour shoot and a 100-page album of prints. Even for those lucky few for whom money isn’t a deciding factor, there’s that niggling worry that you won’t be happy with the final outcome – the photographer’s vision doesn’t match your own, or your photos aren’t as great as those you saw on the website.
Sometimes, the task of finding a photographer for that special occasion or for a nerve-wracking personal shoot can feel like weeding through a jungle of tricksters who are all just waiting to grab your money!
How true is the popular view that photographic companies just want to rip you off, and how do you tell the baddies from the goodies?
Ok, I’m a photographer, but that doesn’t mean I advocate all photographers’ work or practices. On the contrary, as a photographer I am hard to please and have very specific tastes. Common sense will tell you that just like in any profession, there are people who are in it because they love it, and people who are in it only for the money. It is my opinion that there are only a few bad apples, and they shouldn’t be allowed to spoil the whole barrel.
Here are a few points to ease your mind and help you spot the halo on a photographer’s head:
- A photographer who is truly passionate is always striving to learn and improve their work, no matter how good they already are. A famous fashion magazine editor once said that the problem with good photographers is that they consider their work ‘art’ – while this means beautiful work, it also means they want to do it their way (but don’t let this deter you – a good photographer has creative ideas but also works in harmony with the client). If the photographer’s samples all look the same and seem to lack imagination, be wary – either they HAVE no imagination or they haven’t bothered to update their website.
- Just because someone recommended them, doesn’t necessarily mean they’re right for you. We all have different tastes and expectations, so while recommendations are a better indication than an advertisement, check out your friend’s photos and see what YOU think (just don’t say anything to them if you aren’t as enthusiastic as they are…)
- The website is just a sample. Remember that the website is just an example, and a digital one at that. There is a BIG difference between photos on screen and in print. Ask to see printed samples if you are ordering prints or intend to print your photos yourself. Make sure that the examples you are looking have been taken by your photographer, if there is more than one in the company.
- Follow your nose. Or your sixth sense. Talk with the photographer, preferably in person, and see what your instinct tells you. The rapport between photographer and subject plays a GIANT part in how good the photos turn out – their job is to relax you and create an atmosphere of fun, while being professional, decisive and efficient. They should have prepared a concept or some ideas for location/poses beforehand, to suit your brief, and most of the time they should be firing away taking loads of photos to maximise the time you are paying for and ensure some winning shots. If on your shoot you are worried you aren’t getting enough variety, say so, and even suggest some backdrops/poses. A good photographer is also a good listener.
- If you want a bargain deal, take your own photos and print them at Big W. Yes – shop around, and yes – clarify what it is you’re paying for, but if you want personal service and unique, professional-quality photos, as well as a memorable photo shoot experience, you will need to fork out more than 30 cents a print. My advice: choose a small local business or independent photographer. They work extra hard for their clients because they are up against big companies that charge less… so you will probably get something special.
- Good photographers don’t need to do the hard sell. Not all photographic companies are trying to suck you in! Good photographers actually choose their clients, not the other way round. So if you choose wisely you won’t feel pressured to buy and buy more.
- NO, not all photographers do everything! Quite often, it is better to find a photographer specialising in the type of photography you want, rather than one that claims to do everything – though most photographers make some exceptions, find out what their strength is. I specialise in working with small business clients in fashion and commercial photography, and I love artistic photography too. Nine times out of ten I won’t do the family portrait or the sporting event because it’s not my thing (and I steer clear of weddings… this is one to leave to the wedding specialist, for sure!). It’s also worth reflecting on who you are and how that gels with who the photographer is: while I work best with creative and business people, a more motherly photographer might do stunning things in children’s photos!
- Be sure what you are committing to. Ask to see the terms of sale, which should be pretty straightforward. If you are not happy and have a genuine reason for this, most professional, caring photographers will keep working with you until you are. Talk to them at the outset if you have doubts or worries.
Because I can’t tell what your personal preferences and needs are, I have decided not to recommend particular photographers here, although there are many wonderful specialists I know of. However, if you have a particular question I haven’t answered let me know and I’ll do my best to help… trick-free!
With new social media like Google Plus, Pinterest and Instagram focusing on the use of images to attract target markets, it’s a good time to think about how the use of cultural symbols in the photographs you use affect people’s perception of your business.
A simple stock photograph like a handshake or a steaming cup of coffee brings with it certain ideas and values – the photograph becomes a frame of reference for the surrounding message. In another article, I talked about the important things to consider when choosing images for your business, such as whether or not a photograph is culturally appropriate, overused, too obvious or too subtle for the intended audience. These factors will make the difference not only in terms of clear communication but whether you’ve achieved a strong and positive message about your business.
A good starting point is to take stock of the images you are currently using. New Work offers a free DIY Photo Health Check for your business or personal brand, available from our website www.newworkphotography.com
The next step is to plan an image strategy in line with your marketing aims
Some brands effectively using a variety of images to build a certain perception of their brand:
- Starbucks on Facebook and Pinterest https://www.facebook.com/Starbucks/app_305927716147259 Not just coffee, but inspiring spaces, beautiful objects and coffee DIY… building a whole lovely world around coffee!
- Virgin on Google Plus https://plus.google.com/+Virgin/posts Virgin’s use of Google Plus includes an eclectic mix of personal and visually enticing images and a way to interact with the Virgin brand on topics of interest
- Cadbury UK’s website http://www.cadbury.co.uk/ Cadbury have used images to create stories and competitions (‘Joyville’), share the history of Cadbury and include helpful information such as chocolate recipes to entice people back to the website. Their Google Plus account https://plus.google.com/+CadburyUK/posts is an extension of this
- A small business example: social media agency Talking Finger’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/TalkingFinger won an award, part of which was based on its visual branding. The photos here are funny and the surrounding information useful and interesting – a really engaging page
Questions to ask when brainstorming how to use images around your business
- What images evoke the feeling or lifestyle your customers crave? E.g. if selling pools, you could use images about relaxation and luxury – stacked up towels, flip flops, fruity cocktails, a wide sunhat, tanned skin!
- What images encourage people to interact with your brand? An image as the ‘cover page’ for a competition, a joke, a stand-out image that relates to a question you are asking of your audience are some ideas
- What images make people feel ‘at home’ with your company? Personal happy snaps of staff members doing everyday things and showing their hobbies or preferences help customers feel they know you
- What images show your brand’s ‘style’? Do images with a vintage feel suit your business? Do bold, loud images fit your brand? Or slick and corporate? This is definitely an area where a professional photographer can help, through their technical and creative skills.
Now get snapping
I’ve previously discussed the strengths and weaknesses of stock photography versus a professional photo shoot. Ideally you would have a variety of images to use in your branding that have been created just for your business, but if not, it’s important to look at the value of the chosen photographs versus the cost. Originality, professional quality, creativity and cleverness, visual appeal and impact, and culturally appropriate messages are all important to consider when choosing stock photography.
Find out more about our tailored stock and photo shoot package options.
What to talk about with your photographer
The messages you want to send to your target market through your business or personal brand should determine what your people photos look like. Here are four points to talk about with your photographer.
1. Photographic Style
There are various styles of photography and some photographers specialise in one in particular. I have my preferred styles that I believe have the best and most impact in today’s business world, but I will also consider the individual brand first and the context (such as the design of the website and marketing materials where the photographs will be used). Some examples of styles for people shots are natural/candid, editorial, theatrical/dramatic, quirky/left of centre.
2. Mood or tone
Colour, black and white, shadow, framing and angle of view are techniques the photographer will use to create certain effects in the photograph’s mood or tone, which in turn affects how the audience will react to your business. This is especially important in profile and team photos, as these are the first impression and the make or break of the potential customer’s connection with your business. You don’t have to decide on these technical choices, but be able to articulate the feeling you want people to get when they look at photographs of your team.
I rarely work in a studio, as I believe that people connect with photographs that tell a story, and this is best done through the use of scene – a location to suit your brand. This can also include use of props! Photos in your work place tell a story about your business, or you may choose an outdoor or urban location to tell a story about you in your community. Your photographer should be able to make suggestions and even organise location and props for you.
4. People styling
The clothing, hair and make-up choices you make for you and your team will have a big impact on the photos. It’s really important that you look your best, and make-up for ladies can go a long way in projecting a professional image – so consider this, even if you don’t normally wear make-up. Freshly washed hair is essential (yes, I actually have to say this). For clients who are unsure about clothing or make-up/hair styling I send them a tip sheet and offer to book a stylist for them. I’ve written a lot more on this topic and included articles from styling experts – check out the articles below.
Assessing your current photos
We offer a free DIY Photo Health Check, where you can assess the photos in your current marketing through a checklist addressing image quality, impact, relevance and placement. You can access this on our website.
Need more help?
We also can provide a $75 Creative Consultation – creative ideas to get you started thinking about the photography in your marketing. This is a one-to-one, obligation free consultation where we look at what is and isn’t working in your current marketing, and come up with a creative concept for your photographs. And if you choose to book the photography with us, the consultation fee is credited towards your shoot.
A Creative Profile Shoot is a way to demonstrate a brand through your profile photos, and this is something we specialise in.
We asked some of our clients why their Creative Profile Shoot was so important to their success in business. Their responses included the following benefits:
- Projecting the right image
- Helping potential customers connect with who we are
- Standing out from the crowd
- Demonstrating a professional standard in all our messages
- Part of the overall design of the website/marketing materials
- Making me look my best
‘The creative profile shoot was important to my business because it gave me a truly professional image. The variety and quality of images exceeded my expectations.’ – Rebecca Cole, Networking WA
‘I had a definite idea in mind about the shots I wanted from my creative profile shoot as I wanted the photos to be in keeping with Pinc Resumes’ theme (black and white with a hint of pink). The photos were exactly what I wanted. They blended in beautifully with my website and could be used on other marketing tools also. I’ve had some fantastic comments and people get a feel for who I am and what I do.’ – Kylie Kempton,
‘The portraits that were taken by New Work Photography were the first visual images for our company profile. While we understand that the word ’stockstandard’ in most contexts implies run-of-the-mill, common-place or ordinary; to us it means ‘Stocky’s standard’ which demonstrates a high standard of work ethics, pride in our skills and no compromise on quality to ensure client satisfaction. The photos that resulted from our shoot, we believe, reflected these qualities and who we are. All the feedback from our company profile has been positive, describing the professionalism and quality of the images.’ – Sara & Ron Stockdale, Stockstandard Mechanical
‘With a Personal Concierge business the need to project a professional yet personable image is paramount. Prospective clients viewing our marketing material now see a professional face that comes across as someone they can trust with their most personal and private matters or their business needs. I’m very proud to publish my profile shots within my marketing material.’ – Jay Shaw, Simply Easier Personal Concierge Services
‘The overwhelming feedback I receive is how very professional my site looks, easy on the eye & easy to work through. An important part of this is the photography.’ – Christine Brown, Potential Unlocked
Book an obligation-free creative consultation or your own creative profile shoot – Contact Us
See more examples and comments from our clients – Commercial Photo Gallery
Be Media Ready – tips to prepare your business for media attention!
Light has Meaning – how light falls on the subject affects the viewer’s perception
Your 5-Minute Linked In Checkup – get your page right and make the most of this great resource
As your business grows, you may at some stage get that call… the one we all want, but all secretly dread… the media call.
It happened to a friend of mine recently. Working for a reputable bank in a highly specialised position, he was contacted by a very well-known business journal asking to do a feature on him and the company.
Of course he said yes! But there was a tight timeframe… as there usually is when it comes to the media. He had to whip up a quick bio and there was no time to book in a professional photo shoot – and in this case, the publication was not bringing a photographer to him – they just wanted the information and a picture, fast.
My friend confided that he was quite embarrassed handing over the profile photo – ‘a mug shot I had taken against the office wall’ – and regretted that he hadn’t organised his PR resources earlier, to be prepared for this kind of situation. Even if you are not working in a top position in an international company, you never know when your story will become the story of interest, so it pays to be prepared. And if you are making efforts to get your story out in the form of press releases, all the more reason to be ready for that call!
Tips to be media-ready
- Prepare a brief bio with some background on who you are, what your qualifications and major achievements are, your interests and current projects, your current position and your contact details. Think of it as a mini-resume tailored to the media – keep it brief. You may want to consider tweaking it for different publications, according to their audience’s interests. And make it stand out! I love this article on writing a kick-butt bio http://theresesquared.com/6-rules-to-writing-a-kick-butt-bio/
- Prepare a one-page fact sheet about your business. Include the who, when, what, where, how of your business: key products and services, branding information, such as logo, tagline, point of difference, key messages. Include location and contact details such as your website. Stick to brief, easy-to-read bits of information
- Do a Google search if you need help with layout and examples of bios and fact sheets, or media releases. There are plenty of workshops you can attend on these and other media subjects too – such as how to do a successful interview with a journalist!
- Prepare brief responses to key questions relevant to your industry, so that you are always ready with a well-thought-out reply. You may include some current trends in your industry and your thoughts on these, some challenges in your industry, the story of how you got to be where you are, and even responses to possible crisis situations.
- Bring in your branding – make sure your bio, your photo and any responses are in line with your personal and business brand. Here’s a great example from a local ‘web celeb’, Kylie Bartlett http://www.thewebceleb.tv/www/content/default.aspx?cid=646
- Like Kylie, it’s a very good idea to have some kick-ass profile photos that really show off who you are – this goes a long way to create interest! One of our specialities is this sort of Creative Profile Shoot – check out some examples at http://www.newworkphotography.com/commercial-photography/
- A photographer will not always be sent out to you with a journalist – and you don’t always get to keep these photos anyway – so it’s a good idea to prepare some ‘action’ shots to give to media outlets when they are looking for a story. A great picture just might be the deciding factor! You could plan a professional shoot to include photos of you and your team at work or with clients, photos of your products and services and so on. Planning a shoot to cover a variety of images – not just your profile photo – can be really time- and cost-effective for you and will mean you are showing your business in the best and most professional light.