The importance of corporate photography and how it can help your marketing?
We all know the saying “a picture is worth a thousand words”, in many cases creating quality commercial and corporate images to promote your business or organisation is overlooked. Here’s a few tips and suggestions which will not only help you create better images but will take your marketing material to the next level.
Whichever industry you work in, every organisation needs good imagery to promote and communicate a message effectively, but for many, commissioning a professional photographer, and understanding what is involved in a photoshoot, is a grey area.
Above: Image incorporates Rickard Luckin's brand colours in the props to promote the clients brand.
Preparing a brief
Producing a photographic brief is vital not only to obtain an accurate estimate, it will also help set the tone of the shoot, what information should you include in your photographic brief? Before we start writing our brief, let’s look at a few other things you need to consider:
Think about how the images are going to be used
Where are you going to use the images? On your website, a company brochure, social media, presentations, exhibition display, newsletter or annual report? You may find you want your images to be used across all media, this isn’t a problem but the photographer will need to know. These days at least one person in the office has a nice camera and has taken some lovely shots, but what many amateur photographers do not consider are the technical requirements. If the image is to be used in printed material, a trim or bleed area will be required (this is the area the printer will trim off). Lets not get bogged down with the print details but what’s important is letting the photographer know if you intend the shot to be used in this way. Another thing I always think about when composing a shot is, do I need to leave room on the image for copy, a headline or a logo?
Above: Example of Trim and Bleed area required. After trimming, the bleed area ensures that no unprinted edges occur in the final trimmed document.
Corporate Portrait Photography
So you want to organize a corporate portrait or headshot. There are many things you should consider before taking a portrait photograph. This will vary on how and where the image will be used and the style and look you want to portray. Will you be using your headshot for social media, as a Linkedin profile for example, a website or for an annual report? If the media has already been designed, where on the page will it be positioned? Do you need to include the subject’s shoulders? Is the image to be cut out and used on a white background? Do you need copy space? There is more than one way to take a corporate portrait and because there are so many variables to consider, I suggest meeting with the photographer, or at least having a chat on the phone, before a shoot to discuss how you’re going to use the images in detail. A professional commercial photographer will be able to guide you through the process and advise you on the practicalities and restraints of your shoot.
Above: Portrait taken against a white background and retouched later to create a high end business portrait.
Below: Business portrait taken on location against a white seamless white background as part of my mobile studio.
Above: Portrait taken against a white seamless white background and later replacing the background in Photoshop to create a pure white.
Above and below: Informal portrait taken in clients own environment.
Above: Corporate Headshot photographed against a seamless white paper background.
Above: Corporate portrait in a relaxed style incorporating clients brand colours.
How much time should you allow for a shoot?
In my experience, one thing that gets overlooked, which the client doesn’t always consider, is how much time is required to set up lighting and the background. It also depends on how many people, looks and locations are to be photographed, and how far away the photographer can park, something else to take into consideration. Allow between 30 minutes to an hour to unload, set up and take the first shot. When I’m shooting tethered to my laptop, this allows time for me to colour calibrate a profile so the client can see how the final image will look. How much time to shoot per person? I’ve taken photo-booth style shots using my portable studio where I have only been allocated 2-3 minutes per person, I must admit this is rushed but we ended up with fantastic results. In total I photographed 535 people, over 6 days, in 3 locations. For a less hectic approach allow 10 minutes per person, this gives them time to catch their breath, check their hair or tie and enjoy the shoot. I don’t like to have too many people looking on either, not everyone is relaxed when they arrive for their portrait session, having colleagues watching them as they are posing in front of the camera doesn’t help!
Above: Photo-booth style corporate head shots taken at different locations against seamless white background.
Create a mood board
But before you do, think about the message you want the images to convey to your audience. Creating a simple, positive image that connects your audience to your message is not always easy. In most cases it will not be possible to reflect all the elements of your brand in a single image, but they should convey some of them and certainly not contradict them. Now create a mood board. A mood board is the most effective way to communicate the ‘look’ and ‘feel’ of a shoot to the photographer. It’s a collection of images from the Internet or magazines to mimic a style and mood that communicate your ideas. This doesn’t just have to be styles you like, but styles you don’t like. Pinterest is a great tool to collect images from the web and create your own mood board and you can also keep your board secret too! Here’s an example I’ve created.
Build a rapport with your photographer and bounce ideas off each other. Remember it’s a creative process and will reflect your organisations personality.
It’s in the detail
Include as much information as possible about your organisation’s identity. Include identity guidelines, colour palettes and design layouts. Explain your values, strengths and personality too. This will identify the mood and feel you are trying to convey and what you would like to see in the photographs. Think about props, backgrounds and locations. If you have interesting features within your office, provide snap shots of them too. This will not only show the space the photographer has to work in but reveal parts of the location which could be included in the shoot. Using coloured props and accessories can be a subtle way of not just conveying your identity but will compliment the design of your marketing material.
Above and below: A fly on the wall approach incorporates Rickard Luckin's brand colours in the props used.
Above: Executive portrait taken in clients own environment.
Above: Editor's Headshot incorporates the organisations new brand colours (orange and black) and their caring and professional values. Here is the final chosen image and shown in use within Footprints, the supporters' magazine for Spurgeons, a UK children's charity.
Above and below: Business image for marketing use incorporates Rickard Luckin's brand colours in the props used.
Above: Corporate group shot.
Keeping it real
Many businesses use stock images from photo libraries such as Getty Images, Shutterstock and iStock and they certainly have their place, but photographing your own people is a much better way to relay your organisation’s personality. I know not everyone feels comfortable sitting in front of a camera, but candid photography or a fly on the wall approach captures real people in their natural working environment, in a relaxed, professional manner. This style of photography is perfect when you do not want to stop your team from working, whether it’s at their desk, in a team meeting or in a one-to-one situation. If you want to show how your team engages with your clients you should seek permission before hand and ask them to sign a model release form. Believe it or not a photoshoot with your own people is great for team morale - despite what they may tell you!
Above: Candid photography is a great way of capturing images of people at work in their true working environment. This style of photography is perfect when you want engaging images which tell a story.
Should I use professional models?
Don’t rule out the idea of employing professional models to act as members of your staff when producing a corporate brochure or even for your website. For some shots it may be better to hire a professional model who has a look which portrays the ethos and spirit of your company. It really depends on your marketing campaign and who your audience is. Major advertisers don’t think twice about booking commercial models who reflect their brand. Remember, they are professional models for a reason and bring experience, knowledge and professionalism to a shoot.
This depends on the type of shoot and style of images you require. Ensuring a member of your marketing team is on hand to approve the shots is always a good thing. Without art direction a photographer is left to their own interpretation of the brief. I’ve never had a shoot where the client wasn’t happy with the shots, maybe that’s because I’ve always had someone on the shoot to regularly look and approve the images.
How important is photography as part of your marketing? I believe these days people are aware how powerful and vital photography is when promoting a service or a product. They know an advertising campaign has seconds to grab the audience’s attention and communicate a message. Photography ensures this. Photography is an extremely important part of your marketing which will improve the overall quality of your marketing material, leading to:
• Increase in sales and overall perception of your company
• Increase the value of the services that your organization provides
• Build brand awareness and presence
• Improve the overall image of your company
• Convey to your customers the quality of your service
Preparing a brief
So now you have a better idea of what’s involved in organizing a professional photoshoot, lets write a brief… better still, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I'll send one I prepared earlier!
Get in touch
It goes without saying that I’d love to take shots for your organization. I've photographed thousands of people, in various styles, for all types of organisations. If this were something you’re considering and would like to meet with me to discuss in more detail, I’d love to hear from you.
*NOTE* My images may not be reproduced, copied, edited, published, transmitted or uploaded in any way without my written permission. All content © Phil Jones, unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved. Use without permission is illegal.