Chances are, you probably own some kind of camera. Maybe you even have one that’s not also a phone and ten other things — you know, a real SLR camera. And chances are fairly good that you also have a friend or relative who’s a budding photographer-on-the-side who took a great one of your kid at last summer’s barbeque.
Photography is all around us. So, when it comes to the photo needs for your business, it’s easy to think of ways to cut this cost in your marketing budget. I mean, it seems so easy. Why the heck should it cost so much?
As a designer, I can tell you firsthand how quality professional photography brings your brand to life, and how mediocre photography makes that effort incredibly harder. It truly can be the critical difference between success or failure, the element that draws in your audience, makes your message believable, and convinces customers to buy — or not.
We’ve all been moved by a great photograph, but most of us don’t understand the fundamentals behind it, the intangible elements that separate it from an everyday shapshot. We don’t think about the specifics of composition, color, sharpness, and lighting, and the years of training it took to perfect those things, when we look at a photo. But we know a great one when we see it. A truly effective photo can draw us in and penetrate our memory, allowing the marketing message behind it to stick with us. When we’re moved by a photo, we tend to become believers.
Now, you probably know that there’s a viable option to reducing your photography costs: stock photography. There are millions of professional photos available online at a fraction of the cost of hiring a professional, and often this is a solution that works just fine in certain circumstances. The upside of stock photography is that it’s inexpensive and instantaneous. There are mines to dodge when using stock photography, however, so it’s important to tread wisely. First, stock often looks like stock. In Vermont this is especially true. The standard white-shirted ‘businessmodel’ in a white high-rise building doesn’t look very believable in our casual, rural state. Stock photos are also not proprietary, so the photo you choose for your homepage could also end up in someone else’s ad, website, or brochure. So the trick to using stock photography is not relying on it too heavily, as it can easily kill your authenticity.
My suggestion is to make the investment in a professional photographer when you can. If you can’t afford one for all your photo needs, at least consider the investment for the photos you rely on most — the ones you need to really sell your unique message. Your photographer should have expertise in the type of photography you need, as the skills and equipment needed to create great food photography is very different from, say, sports photography. We work with many talented local photographers in a variety of disciplines, some of which are listed below, and their work has helped our clients to elevate their brands and enjoy long-term success.
If your photo needs are extensive, don’t forget about the importance of photo shoot planning and direction. It’s a critical component that protects your investment in professional photography. At Stride, we work closely with our clients and photographers, and sometimes stylists and models, to plan each photo shoot, create detailed schedules and shot lists, and then direct the shoot to ensure that the photos work flawlessly in the layouts we’ve designed. It’s a creative collaboration that provides the best possible results, and very happy clients.
Thankfully, there are many talented photographers in our area. Here’s a sampling of some of the photographers we’ve worked with and highly recommend:
Andy Duback www.dubackphotography.com
Rick Levinson www.rlphoto.com
Glenn Moody www.glennmoodyphotography.com
Jim Westphalen www.jimwestphalen.com
Alex & Kathy Pintair www.ambientphotography.com
Mike Worthington www.worthingtonimages.com
Daria & Andy Bishop www.dariabishop.com
Mike Riddell www.mikeriddellphotography.com
Natalie Stultz www.nataliestultz.com
Brian Mohr www.emberphoto.com