Business Photography: How Important is it?

Every time I meet with a new client about a website, one of my first ten questions to them is “what kind of photos do you have?”. That’s generally followed by “were they shot by a professional?”, “how old are they?”, “how many are there?” and my absolute favourite (and by that I mean most dreaded) “are they high resolution?”

Sometimes I hate asking these questions, because most times I get really scared by the answer. Even in this age of social media madness, majority of people don’t have photos for their business. Very few of them have budgeted to get some. And yet, in many ways, photos are the MOST important element of a website.

Can you use stock photos?

Of course you can use stock photos. I got away with them on my own website for the first year, and they still illustrate majority of my site. But truth? I spent days, probably weeks, searching for individual images that worked collectively as a group on my website, made sense working with my services, and didn’t look like daggy stock photos.

If you need a one page site and have a business that is hard to illustrate then stock photos are your answer for sure. Stock photos can work, but they can also be expensive if you have to buy a few of them… see where I am going here. Get a business shoot instead and it’s exclusive to you! No chance of competitor using the same imagery for their promotions.

Do you need headshot photos?

Business photography doesn’t always need to be of you, but if you have staff then it is great to show the human face of your business. However, business photos are so much more than head shots. They are situational shots of your service/you working, images of finished projects to showcase your expertise or things that can help tell your business story for the website (and social).

We work with a super talented photographer called Kirstyn Smart, who does lots of our client’s photo shoots and she does Business Lifestyle Sessions which help to take the uncomfortable and awkward stiffness out of corporate photography. Kirstyn explains it this way, “I like to get people going about their every day business, because the best shots come from being a fly on the wall and capturing the business as it is.”

What if you hate being photographed?

Okay, honestly I am not a photogenic person. I slouch, I forget to smile, I make ridiculous faces all the time without even realising it and I hate wearing make up. But, with a few new workshops and training sessions on my books, and trying to promote them, I realised it was time I bit the bullet and got some photos done.

This is how I survived being the subject of photos, especially being someone who has a business where I work remotely (read: no office to shoot in), and no products to showcase (just services and websites as my portfolio).

  • I got a photographer I knew I would be comfortable with and would ‘go easy on me’ (thanks Kirstyn xx)

  • I took my business bestie with me, who is a pro in front of the camera, but also because having a few shots with someone else made me feel far less self conscious (thanks Rosie xx). Plus, between the two of these ladies, we had a barrel of laughs shooting.

  • I took a few changes of clothes, in case I got the photos back and hated one of the outfits on me.

  • I got my hair done the day before. Nothing helps boost confidence like a fresh dye job that gets rid of the greys.

  • We found a location that had some colour, so that the photos could be interesting and not just full frame ‘me’.

  • I took a few props - my phone, my laptop, my sunnies. Simple things that helped me get some shots that weren’t just my head!

Anyway, in the spirit of fair play while I’m telling you to go get business photography, I am sharing with you the finished product of our day shooting with Kirstyn Smart Photography.

I hope it inspires you to do the same!

My conclusion: It wasn’t as bad as I’d thought. I do love the shots. I will use them and it was worth every cent. I like having some ‘originals’ to call my own.

Sarah Stevens is a former journalist, magazine editor and TV producer, and the director of Content Society. You can see more of her work here.

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