According to a 2016 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, 37 percent of marketers said visual marketing was the most important form of content for their business.
It’s a growing trend and it’s easy to see why: studies suggest that 65 per cent of us are visual learners. That means we grasp information faster and better—and retain it longer—when it’s accompanied by (or in the form of) a visual. (Hello, PowerPoint!)
But in our super digital world, we can do better than a tired slide deck to drum up sales and show off our business’s best assets. We picked the brain of professional photographer Dan Abramovici to get his expert advice on how to use photography to your marketing advantage.
In an Ideal World: Hire a Professional Photographer
In addition to providing you with high-quality images, a professional photographer will offer smart advice about how to present yourself to your ideal clients. They’ll also be able to work some post-production magic on any flaws.
“Photography is a visual representation of your brand. Oftentimes the first impression that a potential client will have about who you are, what you represent and what you do is from your photo,” said Abramovici.
Tips On Hiring a Pro:
He suggests looking for a photographer that specializes in corporate or advertising photography. Before you set up a shoot, be sure they understand:
- What is your business?
- What is your brand identity?
- Who are your ideal clients and what do they value?
“Photography is a visual representation of your brand. Oftentimes the first impression that a potential client will have about who you are, what you represent and what you do is from your photo.”
A great grasp of who you are and what you’re communicating to will inform your wardrobe, lighting, location and even the way you look at the camera, says Abramovici. A good professional photographer will ask the right questions to make sure they understand your goals. They’ll also provide ideas about what to wear, how to hold your body and where to take photos that show you off in the best possible way for your brand. Finally, they’ll have all the right equipment (including lighting, studio backdrops and post-production software and expertise) to be sure you get a polished look.
Before settling on a professional, check out their website and portfolio to see if they have the look you’re going for. Ask questions about their experience and what they would recommend for what you’re trying to achieve. Find out if they have a studio, how many clothing changes they suggest, how long the photo session will be and the cost of touched-up photos.
Tailor Your Photography to Your Brand
It’s critical to show the right side of yourself for the clients you’re hoping to attract. Two of Abramovici’s recent clients highlight the importance of tailoring photography to your brand.
Young, Hip Real Estate Agent vs. Veteran Real Estate Agent
“A 20-something agent will want to show all the young potential homeowners in the urban area she’s catering to that she’s on their level. I might shoot her against exposed brick or a funky pattern, maybe even in a James Bond kind of pose. Someone older or in a suburban area would choose something different—probably a more corporate shot that conveys that they bring a steady hand to the job.”
Personal Fitness Upgrade
“A personal trainer is rebranding to target a high-achieving corporate crowd. These are the folks who wake up at 4am, get their workout in, then wake up the kids and get them to school before attacking their day. The video and photography needs to look like it would belong in a high-end magazine. It should have more of a fashion shoot type of feel to it, with high-contrast chrome, shiny, black and white. We’re selling the idea of a premium product.
“This is very different than what we did for him when he was casting a wider net in the past. That was more of a smiley, friendly, casual and approachable feel to it.”
If you’re not sure how you want to frame yourself, Abramovici suggests scoping out your competition. How are they presenting themselves to the kind of clients you want? “See what you can do to tweak the look so you can better define yourself in a crowded market.”
4 Tips for the Photography DIY-ers
If you don’t have the budget for a professional photo shoot, all is not lost. There are lots of ways you can make your amateur photos pop.
Photography Rule #1: Avoid the Low-Res iPhone Shot
We’re all tempted to use that flattering photo of ourselves at a party—you know, the one where you look really good but you have to get creative to crop out your friend/partner/sister. Abramovici tells it to us straight: “It’s a common mistake… and it looks really cheap.” Ouch. Not exactly what we’re trying to convey as a professional entrepreneur.
A quick phone photo of a work-in-progress is okay to post on social media, but if you’re looking to take photos regularly to share with followers or your blog, invest in a DSLR (digital single-lens reflex, FYI) and take a basic photography class or online tutorial. You want the quality of your photographs to reflect the quality of your work.
Photography Rule #2: Use the Rule of Thirds
A basic photography composition tip is the rule of thirds. Here’s how it works:
Most DSLR cameras will have an option to show you their grid. That’s nine even squares—three horizontal and three vertical. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t want to position your subject in the middle pane.
According to Digital Photo Secrets, “If your subject is in the middle of the image, it’s considered static. Your eye is drawn to it then has nowhere to go from there because the object is equal distance from all sides… when your subject is positioned closer to one of the edges, it forces your eye to follow it… This allows the viewer to linger on your image longer. It makes for a more captivating photo because it’s almost interactive. Like a conversation going on between the photo and you.”
They use this before-and-after example (via) of a to illustrate the rule.
“It’s good to have an eye for composition—or at least train yourself to have one,” said Abramovici.
Photography Rule #3: Think Slice of Life
Want to give your clients a taste of what it’s like to use your services? Say it in photos.
“If you have a social media strategy, you’ll want to be constantly posting photos of you doing business. Casual, slice-of-life photos are great to show off your personality and approach to your work,” said Abramovici. “You can brand the photos by putting graphics or fonts over the images to take them to the next level.”
Photography Rule #4: Make Use of Natural Lighting
Another popular misconception is that sunny days are the time to head outside for a photo shoot. “On a sunny day, when you point a camera in front of someone’s face, nine times out of 10 it will look bad,” said Abramovici. “Their nose will cast a shadow on their lips and their forehead will be bright and overexposed.”
Overcast days are better for photographing because the light is softer and more diffused. “You want to be in a place where the light is coming from the front and not all around you. There should be some contrast where the light is framing your face correctly to see bone structure and shape where there should be shape.”
Tunnels, alleyways and under bridges are popular locations for professional photographers because they act as natural light filters. Look for ways to reproduce those conditions.
In our increasingly visual world, a DSLR quick intro-to-photography class could be considered wise expenses for your business. Posting regular photographs of you, your service and your work demonstrate that you’re an engaged entrepreneur who’s proud of your business. We can think of worse reasons to take a selfie!
about the author
Heather Hudson is an accomplished freelance writer and journalist based in Toronto. She writes for a number of publishing, corporate and agency clients who depend on her to deliver high-quality, on-brand content and journalism with a fresh perspective. Learn more about her work at heatherhudson.ca.