If you want your brand to stand out, put away your iPhone camera, get off Unsplash, and hire a professional photographer.
As a small business, we get it—money is tight and professional photography is expensive. But as marketers, we’ve seen firsthand how custom, branded images can elevate your business and build trust with your audience. And on the flipside (see what I did there?), we’ve seen how overuse of unoriginal, obvious stock imagery can make an otherwise modern brand feel meh.
Our go-to photographer, Alexa Mazzarello, sums it up perfectly: “Sometimes, stock images are so obviously stock images, and people recognize that. If you want to run a professional business—or if you are already—your branded imagery should be original and unique to you."
There’s a time and a place for stock photography and your core marketing pieces aren’t it. These are the channels where people are really getting to know you and your brand. Your website, display pictures, and branded collateral (business cards, brochures, campaigns, etc.), should be custom. Stock imagery is better suited for content with higher turnover, like your blog or social media posts.
"Hire a photographer you vibe with. Spend the money. The lifecycle of your images will be longer and you'll get so much more out of them."
Before she even takes out her camera, our photographer gets to know you, your brand, and your business goals based on thorough and detailed photo and brand direction from us. This research helps us collaborate to achieve a portfolio of imagery that helps the brand rise. It also helps Alexa specifically make strategic decisions about shoot locations, styling, and the content of the shots themselves. For example, if your goal is to boost conversion on your website with full-width hero imagery, a good photographer will make sure you’ve got plenty of horizontal shots with ample white space for messaging and call-to-action buttons.
A lot of planning goes into executing a successful photoshoot. A professional photographer knows how to manage the prep so your shoot goes off without a hitch. For example, we author a mood board with you to ensure sure you're on the same page visually. We also outline a detailed shot list of required images (eg., portraits, flat lays, product shots). So nothing falls through the cracks on the day of.
To make sure you’re comfortable at the shoot, a professional photographer will offer wardrobe guidance. She’ll even bring in a makeup artist and photo assistant if the job calls for it.
“I know being photographed is often uncomfortable and anxiety-inducing for many people,” says Alexa. "My mission is to transform that feeling throughout the photoshoot. To do this I’m very detailed in my pre-planning and project management so the client know exactly what to expect and how to prepare. While we’re shooting I offer a lot of direction — it’s extremely interactive and physical for me, too! And I love that."
If money is the only thing holding you back from investing in a professional branded photo package, fret not. Many photographers, Alexa included, offer flexible packages and payment plans to make the investment more accessible. Her advice is to get on the phone with your photographer and ask questions. “Whenever you hire someone, it should feel right. You can usually get a good sense from really chatting with people on the phone and I like that we can start to build a connection from the start."
All photos by alexamazzarello.com
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