The rising sophistication of digital cameras and falling prices have prompted many cost-conscious companies to question the need for professionally-taken B2B photographs. After all, professionals are expensive, aren’t they? Plus, with the savings possible in just two or three assignments, you can set yourself up with some fairly good photography kit and save a fortune. Well, not quite.
The most obvious flaw in this logic is that, while anyone can pick up a camera and snap away, not just anyone can create the kind of image that does the job required of it. That might be a whole range of tasks, including: flattering the subject, who might be your chief executive, an important supplier or a customer; avoiding visual clichés (big cheques and a ‘grip and grin’ handshake anyone?) presenting your B2B brand in a professional light; making your product look stunning; drawing in readers so that they read your important messages in the text alongside.
And if you want an image to accompany a story you hope the press will pick up, you need one that attracts the very discerning eye of a picture desk editor. A media outlet like The Times receives about 20,000 images every single day and uses only a tiny fraction. So how can you ensure yours is one of them? You should start by looking closely at images that already made it into the paper or website you’re targeting. The Guardian newspaper simplifies this by publishing a roundup of the best news pictures of the day the Picture Desk Live section of its website.
But probably the best and quickest way to increase the odds is to hire an ex-newspaper photographer, or a freelance photographer who currently works for the media outlet you’re aiming for. If you don’t know who these people are, look at the photo credits alongside some recently published photographs in the newspaper you are targeting. For UK media, you can also browse the work of the British Press Photographers’ Association’s members, or just commission the Press Association’s commercial photography service.
Even if you are confident you can produce fantastic DIY images, that’s only part of the task. Do you have the time and resources to process them in Photoshop to tight news deadlines? Can you caption, size and tag them properly for newspaper picture desks? Do you even understand what a tag is, why they are crucially important and how they can be used to improve Google search visibility for your images?
Suddenly, you begin to see that there are many good reasons why paying for professional photography is almost always a good investment. If you’re coming under pressure from your finance director, point out to them that there’s still a cost attached to DIY – it’s just that much of it is hidden opportunity cost. And always keep in mind Oscar Wilde’s witty riposte when asked what a cynic was: ‘someone who knows the cost of everything and the value of nothing.’
Credits: I’d like to thank photographers Mike Ford and Michael Crabtree for inspiring and reviewing this post