Let’s consider the following:
· Photographers have cameras
· Smartphones have cameras
· Everybody (well almost everybody) has a smart phone
· So, everybody is a photographer!
Or are they?
· We can all write, but there are still writers and novelists
· We can all draw, but we still use graphic designers
Professional photographers are experts in their field, if not we would quickly go out of business. In his book, Peak: The New Science of Expertise, Anders Ericsson of the University of Florida a world-renowned expert on peak performance writes that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to become an expert in a practical subject. This would equate to 38 hours a week over 5 years to become an expert photographer. This is the typical level of expertise that you would expect from an established professional. We will also have invested large sums acquiring the specialist equipment needed to produce high quality images consistently.
The images that you use to promote your business are often the first thing that a potential client sees, it takes barely 5 seconds for them to form an initial impression – good bad. Poor quality, dull uninteresting images do nothing for your business. Skimping on photography for these critical images will cost you money in the long term and your business will suffer.
Some time ago, advertising legend David Ogilvy commissioned research into the use of images and discovered that no image is better than one that is irrelevant, dull or shoddy
So, what does a professional photographer bring to the table? In my case 20+ years of photographic experience, a degree level qualification in photography and more than 20 years’ experience working in sales and marketing. I have also done it before successfully many times for other clients.
How does the process work? Let’s take a step back and look at an example: a client comes to me asking for some new images to use on their website, online store on social media and as large posters.
Before planning the shoot, I must understand:
· What is the existing branding and corporate image?
· What is the target market and demographic?
· What are the key selling points?
· What ‘story’ do the images need to tell?
Once I have answers to these questions, I can come up with some creative ideas to agree with the client. We can then decide: Is it going to be a studio-based shoot, at the client’s premises or on location? Do we need to book models or get permission from the location for the shoot? Do we need model release forms signed and do we need to hire any special equipment?
I then write the shoot plan and cost the work before we move on to the shoot itself. I like the client and/or their creative team to be there to review the images as they come off the camera and suggest any changes necessary. Commercial photography at its best is a collaborative process!
A shoot typically results in hundreds of images, which will be edited and whittled down to the number agreed with the client. Editing this many images takes a considerable time, often longer than the shoot. The selected images are then delivered online to the client for final approval and publication.
That’s what I do every day as a professional photographer and why my clients keep coming back for more. By all means take your own photographs for your business but remember that your competitors may be using a professional to gain a competitive edge.