Investing in a custom photography will make such a difference to the success of your brand – here’s why.
When we begin a branding project, there’ll almost always be a conversation about organising a photoshoot. As an agency, it’s something we recommend as we know it will yield fantastic – and long-lasting results – but there’s no doubt that it’s an expensive option. And while stock shots are usually cheaper, they can be a false economy in the long term.
We’re not stock image snobs, by the way. In many circumstances such as smaller design jobs and situations when the budget is tight or there’s no time to organise a photoshoot, stock photography is ideal. Plus, sometimes you can stumble upon the perfect set of images for your brand in one of the libraries.
However, if you’re creating or refreshing a brand, commissioning your own photography is definitely worth the investment. Allow us to explain (accompanied by a selection of commercial images that our brilliantly-talented, go-to photographer, Rebecca Faith, created).
1) You can get more for your money
A couple of months ago, we organised a photoshoot for one of our clients where we created a number of different picture scenarios featuring volunteers, members of staff and the SIM7 team. We were there all day and, thanks to a tightly-organised schedule, a super snapper, some solid creative direction and very favourable weather, we managed to create dozens of quality images.
These images have been used on the brand’s website, brochures, leaflets and social channels and there are plenty to spare for future campaigns and brand assets. The shoot generated an almost invaluable library of quality images and will be used for years to come.
Admittedly, it wasn’t a cheap exercise, but consider the alternative. Even a skilled picture researcher would take many hours to scroll through thousands of photos on stock photography websites. And for them to find 100+ decent, suitable images that are all of the same ‘family’ and tone would be nigh on impossible. Plus, there’s the cost of the image licences and any further editing work to consider.
On balance, the photoshoot was by far the better, most cost-effective option.
2) Your brand will stand out
A couple of years ago, we created a brochure for a school that used a stock image of a boy playing football. Since then, we’ve seen that same image used at least five times in local and national campaigns and it’s become the photographic equivalent of magnolia paint.
Look around the internet and you’ll see countless images of the same models in the same situations, bought from the same stock photo libraries. Businesses need to set themselves apart from the competition and custom photography is just one way of achieving this through a strong brand.
As an example, our agency does a lot of work in the property sector and anyone who’s searched the stock image libraries for ‘interiors’ will know that the same tired shots, colours and angles crop up time and again.
Here’s one of Rebecca’s bespoke shots from a recent shoot, where she made a feature of the light playing across the ceiling – and added an extra dimension.
3) You set the agenda
If you’re going to go to the effort of organising a photoshoot, you plan ahead so that you get exactly the shots you’re after.
With a structured brief, the photographer will be able to capture all the brand values that you cherish, and you’ll even be able to add in the little details that make your business special. It will make such a difference to the finished product.
So going back to that generic image of the boy playing football, for example, you could choose to have a girl instead to demonstrate your commitment to equality. She could be wearing your chosen kit and looking ‘inspired’ or ‘determined’ or whatever other value you want to reflect. It’s a powerful way of reinforcing your brand.
Anyone can take a picture of a plate of food, right? But can they balance the elegance of the cuisine with the informality of the surroundings, while giving you a taster of what you can expect from your restaurant visit? Take a look at Rebecca’s image below…
4) You can choose the style (or not)
When we’re searching for stock images, we’ll quite often find the perfect shot (as far as composition and narrative are concerned) but the style won’t be right for the brand. It could be too cold, too modern, too sentimental, too overexposed or any number of variables. And so, the image search continues – which takes time and therefore money – or compromises have to be made. Either way, your brand suffers.
By commissioning photography, you can obviously dictate the way you want your images to look and feel. But more than that, you can also get expert insight and advice on other ways of achieving the results you’re looking for. Or maybe the conditions will change on the day and an extra special photo opportunity will present itself – we’ve been out on several shoots where the light has changed and a unique, defining shot has been created from nothing.
5) You create better connections
When was the last time you visited a website and clicked on ‘Contact Us’, only to see an image of someone vaguely American in a shirt and tie wearing a telephone headset? Did it look like the person actually worked for the company, or could you tell immediately that it was a generic, stock photo?
By using photography of real members of your team instead, you’ll add authenticity and lay the groundwork for the personal relationships that your brand creates with your customers.
It’s about fostering trust and making meaningful human connections.
Take a look at more of our work at www.sim7creative.co.uk and get in touch to talk about how we can help you set your business apart from your competitors.