As a specialist commercial photographer of some 16 years now I often see clients who have attempted to save money doing or meet a short deadline doing their own photography. I also savvy enough to appreciate with modern phone cameras many see professional photography as an occasional luxury and equally for certain work it is not always viable to have a photographer on standby and in such cases, it is acceptable for non-professional images to be used especially for social media. However, this acceptance comes with a warning and the offer of help.
The warning is that the viewer only sees the image and not the circumstances in which it was taken. Allowances can be made for a one off grab shot such as a funny event or a news item, but most people expect businesses to be professional and that the content has been considered before release even in the “disposable” world of social media. In fact, it is surprising that when an ill thought out message or image is put out how suddenly the content sticks around longer than an advert in a doctor’s surgery.
Your brand is built up as the sum or all the points of contact between your business and your client or intended client. It is best described as perhaps what people say about you, your business, product or service when you are not in the room. The most powerful sense with which we form an impression is our eyes and first impressions count most of all. Would you trust a surgeon whose LinkedIn image shows them with spilt coffee on his gown suggesting a shaky hand?
If you are going to generate your own visual content, then here are some tips to avoid the obvious mistakes.
1. Prepare. Even if it is images taken at an internal event or think about your content beforehand. Set yourself an objective. Professionals work to brief so beforehand think what you are going to show, what message are you trying to get over, who is your audience and which social platforms is the content going to be put out on. This makes content more structured, more relevant to the reader and saves producing an avalanche of mediocre content when one good piece of content is better for all. Also check you have the relevant permissions to take the images booth in terms of content and where you are going to be. There are a few traps here such as children and private property.
2. Designate one person to get the shots. Let them get the best views and have time to compose the shots.
3. Compose shots carefully – make sure there is nothing in any shot that should not be there. I have seen dish clothes in fine dining images, people photobombing the guest and just general office mess too many times to count! Also make sure the images are correct photographically (focus, exposure etc)
4. Vet the content. Before you publish, pause and check you have taken the shot correctly both in terms of Paragraph 1 and 3 above!
5. Review the work after the shoot. Did the content work, what could be done better? This way you will not repeat mistakes and waste time in the future.
These simple rules will work for all businesses and avoid embarrassing own goals that competitors will revel in!