You may be wondering if you really need to hire a pro to capture images for your small business. You’re thinking about that photo class you took in junior high. And smart phones do have pretty advanced cameras these days…. But while a smartphone is great for casual, candid action shots, hiring a professional photographer is the only way to go when your brand really needs to shine. Poor photographs are the visual equivalent of sloppy writing and typos–if you wouldn’t be caught dead with those on your website, don’t skimp on images. Read on as we outline when to hire a professional photographer for your small business.
Images tell your story.
How many times have you clicked on something because the photo sucked you in? When reading a newspaper, people look at the headlines first, then the photo, then the photo caption, then the articles. Photos are a conversation starter, the way we engage new and future customers, and perhaps more importantly, they tell the story of your business. Photos reveal your brand identity, your values, your experience.
Where can you use professional photography?
1. Your Website
This is often one of the first places that customers and clients interact with your brand, and the place they come back to when they want to reconnect. Stellar images leave a flawless first impression. Who wouldn’t want that? Beyond photos of your products or the experience you are selling, you may also want to capture images of your staff, interactions with customers, and the ambience of your business location.
Can you tell which image I shot myself?
2. Public Relations
At key points throughout your business (launching new products, expansion, milestones, events) you’ll want to reach out to the media and encourage them to cover your stories. (Skip to our public relations guide.) Sharing professional, hi-res photos can significantly increase your chances of receiving coverage, since media outlets prefer stories with a compelling visual element. Often, it can mean the difference between a small mention or a large photo with a caption and a mention.
3. Social Media
Regular posts to social media, like Facebook and Instagram, keep your brand in front of your customers regularly. While you’ll use a lot of spontaneous, new photography for these outlets, rotating through your professional images throughout a season is a great way to reinforce your brand image.
Many brands prefer to launch a social media channel with professional photography shots to set the tone for their page and brand. It’s a clear way to tell future customers that you care a great deal about your product or experience.
4. Business Cards
Why not make a great first impression with a gorgeous photo on your business card? Professional photographers do it all the time because they need their images to stick with you. Small businesses can take their lead and leverage their best images to create an impression that literally goes home with the recipient.
5. Marketing Materials
Do you use rack cards, brochures, postcards, menu inserts, fliers, banners, calendars, or bookmarks? For all the ways you can dream up to send your brand out into the world on printed material destined for potential customers, you’ll need high-quality images to go with it.
We take for granted the value of documenting the events we throw. Our natural focus is on selling tickets, getting people to the event itself, and pulling it all off on the big day. But for everyone who did not attend your event, how else will you tell them about it than with a professional photographer? How else will you share it with media unless you have a high quality image to send them with a suggested caption? How will you market the same event next year unless you have stellar images of it? Images are a powerful marketing tool for events because they literally “show” customers what to expect.
7. Web Traffic
Give yourself a really cheap, easy SEO boost by optimizing the file names of your images. You may end up getting a nice dose of organic web traffic through image searches. Skip to the first one of these 8 non-technical SEO secrets for details on how to optimize your images.
8. Photo Gallery
Beyond your homepage and other key pages of your website, creating an online photo gallery may be a useful tool to convert customers who are checking out your website before they make a purchase. Showcase only your best images here. If you can, work with a professional photographer to curate them on the page so they tell a story and give the guest a good idea of what to expect if they make a purchase. By setting accurate expectations, we build trust, win customers, and are more likely to receive positive reviews.
So when you think about hiring a professional photographer for your small business, know that you will use the images far and wide over several years. Pro images allow you to control your brand image, convert with customers, and set an accurate expectation for your product or service.