This week I had the opportunity to attend the American Marketing Association of West Michigan’s lunch where the topic centered around social media. When I sat down at the table there was a small flier with tips for a photoshoot. Perfect timing, I thought as the next skill I hope to improve upon is photography and video.
I was even more delighted when Adam Bird from Bird + Bird Photography gave a short presentation on photography. Adam shared several key takeaways that seem so simple, but to me were pretty profound. I’m sure this was because of my lack of understanding of photography as messaging, and I feel like I cannot be the only one who feels this way. Because I was so impressed with his presentation I asked Adam for permission to write about it, and he graciously agreed.
Adam began with the premise that we all know that the best campaigns are run across multiple channels and that the messaging should remain the same across these channels (of course tweaked to be the correct content for the channel you are posting on). We have also heard that content is king. However, Adam shook things up a bit when he stated that content is not king. Wait. What? He continued with “it is the Caesar – Dictator – in Chief President.” Well, it must be pretty important then. He explained that your photography must be multi-channel too, and it must not suck. Those are his words – not mine.
The first takeaway is that photography is an ASSET. Sure, ok I thought to myself, not fully understanding the importance of photography. As Adam talked though, it became perfectly clear that he is right. I imagine a large portion of us, myself included, think of a photograph as the last thing to add to a blog post or the awful headshots of employees flat against the obligatory brick wall for an ID badge. Your photography should be a library of assets that you can access for many purposes. As with any of your assets, the better you do it the first time, the better the return on your investment will be.
The second take away is that a well thought out photograph can be used in multiple ways which Adam showed quite well, of course in photos. The first picture was that of a girl sitting at a microscope in a classroom setting. He showed how that same photo can be repurposed for many different uses. This one picture can be used as is for a blog or website photo. It can be cropped to accommodate the different types of social media. We can zoom in on the photo and just see the girl and the microscope, or we can recenter the photo so that the focal point of the girl and the microscope are to the side and text can be added to the other as we like to see.
The second image was a beautiful group shot of 9 people in an office with an amazing city view from the window off to the side and behind them. They were grouped so that a couple was near the window and a few near or on a couch and the remainder were near a grouping of chairs. Previously I had gained some knowledge, somewhere, that odd numbered groups are visually more appealing. So now this photograph makes sense to me in that respect. Now, take that information and couple it with the information above that photos should be thought out and staged. Not only can we show the big picture, but the photo should be built so that you are able to then dissect it and use it in multiple ways. Of course this photo can be cropped to fit the dimensions of the desired platform. But here is the brilliant part to me. Each group of people represents a different department in the company. Now one single photograph can be used in even more ways by cropping for size, a tight shot or zoomed out or by the group to be able to tell a story of a particular department.
The final point Adam made is that great photography is an investment. It should not be an investment that breaks your budget, but with all that a single, well thought out photograph can do, these photos should certainly be more of an investment than the cost of your office supplies.
As I was writing this, I did some quick research into how quickly we process images. An article from the Daily Mail says it takes your brain 13 milliseconds to see an image. According to B2C that is 60,000 times quicker than a person can recognize the text of your company name or what the article associated with the picture is about. You can capture the attention of someone quickly and draw them in to read your article or learn more about your company with a well thought out photo. Your images are what is seen first, and should always adhere to brand style. The viewer will begin to associate that style of photography with your company without having to read a single word, leading to instant brand recognition. That certainly seems to be a few reasons to invest in great photography.