Why high quality product photography is more important now than ever.

May 15, 2020  •  2 Comments

Why high quality product photography is more important now than ever.

 

If you are a retailer the past few weeks and months since lockdown will have been an incredibly challenging time, the likes of which have never been seen before.

 

This is particularly the case if you sell ‘non-essential’ products and your physical stores have had to close. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you may already have had an online presence, a web store. But if you didn’t, you may have had to very quickly pivot towards an online offering in order to keep the cash flowing, stay competitive in your market and keep in the minds of your customers. And this may have meant building an e-commerce website at short notice and with little experience in this space.

 

Or, perhaps you’re already a successful online retailer, and have found yourself in times of exceptional demand in lockdown. Certain sectors, such as food, garden plants and online gifts have naturally enjoyed a major upturn during this time. The challenge you may face though, is other businesses pivoting into your space and investing in new e-commerce sites.

 

The other factor is the amount of time people are now spending online. This is a natural and expected trend – we can’t go out, and we’re all desperate for communication and news. Where will we turn to? Websites and social media of course! So if that’s where your products are – a big boost in visibility is a likely result.

 

But whether an established and successful online retailer or a reluctant and new debutant to online sales, one thing is true.

 

Your product photography must be high quality and fit for purpose. Here’s why.

 

  • These are tough economic times for many people. Many are furloughed, struggling with their businesses, facing reduced incomes. Therefore, buyers will be discerning about how and where to spend their money and will take some convincing.
  • The days of easy returns are over. Popping to the post office – if you’re lucky enough to have one open - is not going to be relished as a trip out and in fact may be avoided if people are isolating. This means people will want to be certain of their choice before clicking ‘buy’.
  • It’s likely your cash flow, supply chain and production are under pressure due to the changing demands the coronavirus crisis has presented – whether increased or reduced demand. The last thing your business needs is further uncertainty in your sales and cash flow due to increased returns.
  • If you’re new to selling online, your product photography styling and quality will represent your brand. It’s crucial to get your image right so you build loyalty and a positive impression with customers and keep them long term.
  • If you’re tempted to use stock photography on your website, don’t. There is a big risk other companies will have used it too. Strong brands need authenticity and individuality. The way your products are presented on your website needs to be authentically you.
  • Good product photography is an opportunity. To enhance your products and show them off in the detail and gloriousness that will do them justice. This is particularly important if you’re in the high-end luxury space, but this principle should apply across the board if you want your customers to be tempted into ordering your products (which you do).

 

So that’s covered the why, the next question is, how?

 

You might be thinking, it’s simple. I have a phone. It has a great camera. Or, we’ve had product photography done, what we have is good enough.

 

But will this cut it, in today’s challenging commercial environment?

 

Commercial photography – done well, takes a lot more than a good camera. It takes;

 

  • A professional studio – as a commercial photographer the great news is I have a home studio, which means I can continue to provide high quality product photography services safely from my home. I’ll simply pick up the products, or have them delivered, and shoot them in my studio.
  • An excellent understanding and expert ability to use the right lighting. Lighting is everything in product photography to convey details, textures, quality of items. Without well-lit products, customers could simply get frustrated and move on.
  • Artistic input. An experienced commercial photographer knows the style of photography that will work for your brand and audience and ensure is this consistent, creative and high impact.
  • Professional editing techniques – to create the perfect finish and final presentation of the photography of your products. I provide editing and production services if you are shooting your own photography to ensure it looks fantastic and does your products justice.

 

Don’t leave your potential customers underwhelmed, misled or forced to look elsewhere for the images they need.

 

The current circumstances make product photography all the more important, and I can help.

 

Get in touch to find out how I can carry out your product photography or editing safely from my home studio.

Here's some examples of my portfolio :

 

  

 

 


They say a picture is worth a thousand words.

December 05, 2019  •  2 Comments

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. So why isn’t a photographer part of your creative project?

 

If you’re a marketer, a creative, a web designer or a business launching a creative project, do you have a photographer as part of the team?

 

If not, you could be missing out on authenticity, originality, quality and another creative mind to add to the mix.

Make photography part of the story

 

‘’According to eye-tracking research, people spend 10% more time looking at visuals on a website than reading text’’. (Source: Nielson Norman Research Group).

 

Branding is all about story telling; so the experts tell us. Branding is not a logo or a layout, it’s a business’s purpose, vision and values which make up its story and enables it to connect with an audience. It’s about telling customers how if they buy the services and products on offer, it will change their lives.

 

One way of getting across this story is through the words, the content. But the other crucial element is the imagery. Ideally, the two work together, to tell the story as powerfully, creatively, uniquely and effectively as possible.

 

Too often though, photography is an afterthought. Or because it’s left until the end, it’s even left out all together in favour of a using an image library.

 

Stock shots have their purpose, but they will not be unique to one business, one brand.

 

They will be selected to fit a brand, not form a brand.

 

Bespoke photography on the other hand, if introduced at the beginning, can be key to a business brand, and how it connects with customers. It can be moody, emotive and thought-provoking, evocative, bold or controversial, humorous and entertaining, quirky, edgy and uber-cool. It can be whatever it needs to be, but only if it’s part of the story from the beginning.

 

A suite of bespoke photography also has multiple uses so is well worth the investment. It can be used across websites, advertising campaigns and contribute to a successful social media or content marketing strategy.

 

Successful marketing needs the right image

 

‘’Some types of pictures are completely ignored. This is typically the case for big feel-good images that are purely decorative. Other types of pictures are treated as important content and scrutinized. Photos of products and real people (as opposed to stock photos of models) often fall into this category’’. (Source: Nielson Norman Research Group).

 

Most web design involves imagery, but this can be a real sticking point. In the absence of creative input, often there’s a reliance on standard stock images – houses for construction companies, cheesy images of headphone-adorned customer services personnel for call centres, for example. This shows little imagination, lacks any conceptual thinking and certainly has no originality or authenticity – particularly as you run the risk of a competitor having picked the same stock shot.

 

If you’re a copywriter, web designer, marketing strategist or graphic designer, you’ll know how bouncing ideas off other similarly minded creatives can lead to a light bulb moment. Including a photographer in this process can provide a additional angle, introducing innovative and creative ways imagery can be used to convey the brand message or underpin a creative concept.

 

It could be in the stylising, editing and production – for example using black and white, saturating colours, combining real photography with graphic design, whether to opt for a natural look or a staged, creative photographic style. Or it could be discussing how to approach team or individual portraiture in a company ‘about’ page to set them apart from other businesses and reflect their individual brand personality.

 

 

For a professional finish, include all the right professionals

‘’32% of marketers say visual images are the most important form of content for their business’’. (Source: 2018 social media marketing industry report).

 

In any project which incorporates a range of disciplines, the aspect which is poor quality will stand out like a sore thumb. You wouldn’t refit a kitchen with all the top range appliances, expert carpentry, granite worktops but then opt for broken, old fashioned tiles! All the elements of any project need to be planned in from the outset and consistent in their quality, approach and professionalism.

 

When it comes to marketing, whether through a creative concept or in presenting images of your product or service, the first impression can win or lose a customer. It doesn’t matter how good the words are if the images of your products are poor quality, thanks to being shot on a phone with poor lighting and background distractions. It won’t matter how slick a website design is if the imagery is bland, generic and unoriginal. And the impact of your funky, creative graphic design will be lost, if accompanying photography is at odds with the business brand values by being old fashioned and uninspiring.

 

 

So how do you find a photographer you’ll click with?

 

Whether you’re a small agency, or a freelance creative professional, it can be hard to find a photographer you can trust and enjoy working with.

 

Local networking can be a great way to reach other professionals, form relationships and create an informal team who can come together on projects. Most areas have a variety of networking groups, and it’s a case of finding one that suits you. If you don’t have time for networking, asking other marketing or creative professionals for referrals, or making connections on LinkedIn can also work well.

 

By having a local network, you’ll have a team ready to go with the relevant talent and disciplines involved from the outset of the project. This will ensure the project plan incorporates the right solutions and can be delivered on time.

 

Click with me!

 

If you’d like an experienced, creative and professional commercial photographer as part of your team, I’d love to hear from you. I’m camera-ready to step in and create something magical, authentic, unique and high impact to help businesses project the right image and start attracting the customers they need.

 

 


Thinking of getting a new headshot? Check this handy guide before you go a – head!

September 02, 2019  •  1 Comment

Thinking of getting a new headshot?  Check this handy guide before you go a-head!

 

Headshots are becoming an all-important aspect of personal and business marketing. With online networking driving so much business via platforms like LinkedIn, and websites the shop window for most businesses, portrait photographs are key to building connections and reinforcing brands.

 

With high quality, skilled, professional photography, a headshot can be a great opportunity to achieve a desired perception of you or members of your team.

 

But are you aware of just how many options there are for headshot styles?

 

From the background, the setting, the lighting, the make up and dress, the styling, editing and production, creative twists and use of props, the choice is almost endless.

 

Your portrait photograph is part of your marketing

 

The first important thing to remember is that professional headshots are part of your marketing. And like any marketing, you need to think about the purpose. Is the headshot for use on LinkedIn only? Is it for team pages on a website? Is it to be used on social media or an email campaign?

 

And next, you need to think about how you want to be perceived – what brand identity you want to build, what values and attributes you hope to get across.

 

Do you want to be seen as reliable, approachable, warm and friendly? Creative and innovative? Corporate? Quirky or edgy? Is it beneficial to reveal what you do professionally, or to convey an interest in your headshot through the use of a prop? Do you wish to carry through a brand identity whether colour, style or setting?

 

Capturing your best angle

 

As a professional photographer, it is my objective for people to be proud and happy with their profile shots. There’s no point in expecting a shy person to perform a wacky pose if they are deeply uncomfortable with it. Equally, it’s a wasted opportunity for a professional with a strong personal brand or confident, quirky personality for this not to come across. Part of the initial brief will be understanding your objectives, preferences and brand and then using my skills and experience to propose the best background and styling for your shot, so that you come across as ‘you’ and look the best you can be.

 

So, which of these styles most click with you?

 

Style through simplicity

 

A white background is simple and classy, enabling images to come across in a presentable way, without any distractions. It will work well in all formats and presentations, making it a highly versatile option. It may be suitable if the headshot/s are to be used in a highly designed or colourful website, or where many headshots are required for a team, enabling consistency and a clean look to the company page.

Variety through colour

 

A coloured background can add interest and embed a corporate colour and brand identity in a subtle and visually appealing way. It is a way to add a bit of creativity but without the complication of external shots or props. Depending on the colour, an experienced photographer will use the correct lighting and advise on clothing for the subject to stand out and look their best.

Bold can be beautiful

 

Bold black backgrounds are strong, artistic and a bit different from the norm. They can look visually stunning, when created with the right lighting. Again, a skilled photographer will advise on styling and even make up, to ensure the most beautiful shot.

 

The perfect setting

 

Depending on the objectives of your photoshoot, an office-based or lifestyle headshot could be appropriate. It’s a great way to achieve a completely bespoke look and feel, to set it in your office or convey a lifestyle aspect which reflects you. Team shots in offices can be creative and help build the brand. They can include marketing items such as business stands or posters, fun or quirky props like the office pet, be based in different locations around the office, or in situ at desks or in meeting rooms, as appropriate. Lifestyle shots can pick up on elements of your interests and personality which are special to you and promote your personal brand.

Classic and classy

 

Always classic and always flattering, black and white headshots will never go out of fashion. While black and white photography can be a way to minimise elements of your looks you’re not happy with, it stands strong as an artistic, eye-catching and visually beautiful style. While often the preferred choice of professionals in creative and artistic industries, black and white really does have universal appeal.

A breath of fresh air

 

For something different, you might consider an environmental/outside headshot. Enabling natural light, this can be highly flattering but also more exciting and unusual than the classic studio background. Whether in a beautiful green setting like countryside, a City setting or in your own personal, special space like a garden or balcony, this natural look can promote your individuality and personal brand very effectively.

Bring out the real you

 

A highly effective and bold, innovative way to promote who you are and what you do is to opt for a personality with prop headshot. For those with a bit of character and bravery, carrying this off well can enable your headshot to become the centrepiece of your brand identity, campaign or website. It offers great creative scope, as it can incorporate emotion or humour and convey a genuine love and passion for what you do.

 

Whether you’re a florist with a flower, a hairdresser with a blowdryer, a chef with her food or a pest controller with a mousetrap, this style of headshot offers the most awesome and high impact opportunity to raise your business profile.

 

With so much choice – what style of headshot is truly you? If you’d like to chat through the options, I’m here to help.

 

 

 


Case Study, The Client - Sandman Signature London Gatwick Hotel

June 26, 2019  •  1 Comment

Case Study -

The Client - Sandman Signature London Gatwick Hotel

 

The Sandman Hotel Group opened their first hotel in British Columbia, Canada over 50 years ago. Today, they are an international company with over 50 locations across Canada and the UK.

 

The group acquired what is now the Sandman Signature London Gatwick Hotel, in 2014. Their philosophy is to incorporate the comfort of home with the relaxation of getting away from it all packaged in an elegant, refined experience that resonates with their guests.

 

Photography plays a significant role in conveying this important message.

 

 

The Brief

 

The total refurbishment of the hotel in 2015 presented the perfect opportunity to create a portfolio of photographs to be used in welcome packs in each room, on banners around the hotel and on the website.

 

Jane Axford, Sales Manager commissioned Amanda Duncan to undertake the task.

 

“The brief and the brand guidelines were very specific. I explained to Amanda exactly what we needed. The photographs had to be taken to set dimensions and had to be signed off by head office before we could start using them.”  

 

The shots were highly technical. Studio lights combined with existing lighting conditions were used to create the correct exposure and atmosphere required for each area in the hotel, including the reception, the bar, the restaurant, the swimming pool, the gym, the conference suite, the banqueting suite and the different types of bedrooms.

 

“Amanda also took photos at our launch party. Because she was familiar with our strict brand guidelines, she took this into consideration, which gave us a selection of more informal images to use.”

 

Communication

 

Business relationships thrive on good communications.

 

“If there is a slight change to be made Amanda’s immediately on the case. When there is a new room specification that needs to be shot, she’s always quick to respond and arrange a time to come to the hotel to take the new photos.”

 

 

Trust

 

As Sales Manager, Jane is often approached by photographers offering their services, but working with someone that she can trust makes her job far easier.

 

“Amanda is clearly a skilled commercial photographer. She is highly professional and always looks professional, which is important when working at the hotel. She’s really easy to work with, the continuity of the business relationship is really important to me”.

 

For more information on Amanda's services please contact her [email protected]

            


How to use photography to reinforce your brand

April 25, 2019  •  Leave a Comment

How to use photography to reinforce your brand

All too often, the imagery in branding and marketing is a poor after thought. An ill-thought out, rushed part of the process that involves scrabbling around stock libraries, trying to find an image – any image – to use to break up the text.

What a waste!

A waste of 'real estate' on your website or in your advertising campaign and a waste of opportunity to engage your target audience through reinforcing your brand with well-conceived, relevant, high quality supporting imagery.

Make imagery a priority

Don't treat the pictures as an after-thought. Successful advertising and marketing ideas incorporate both messages and images right from the outset. The most effective marketing campaigns I've worked on are where creative professionals; web and graphic designers and writers, have bought me in early in the process.

 

Originality and authenticity

Your brand is individual. It's a visual depiction of your proposition - your unique selling points, business values, business 'personality', how you change the world and improve the lives of customers.

It is likely you'll have a business strapline. A unique company logo. A colour scheme. A certain tone of voice employed in all your marketing communications.

But are you accompanying this branding with unoriginal stock shots, which will be used by many other businesses (possibly including your competitors)? Are you settling for bland, generic or cliched imagery - common ones including jigsaw puzzle pieces or handshakes, which add no value to your brand?

As a commercial photographer, my professional photography has been used to truly enhance business brands and marketing campaigns.

And this is how it can be done.

  • Invest in a bespoke photo shoot by an experienced commercial photographer

Like any profession, talent and experience will vary widely. Commercial photography is a specialist skill, requiring the photographer to have a strong understanding of business and marketing. They will be able to get under the skin of the company and creatively devise a photographic style which is on brand. Whether it’s a sole trader having profile shots, a business having photography to showcase products, venues or services, or part of a creative campaign; strategic, creative thinking and working with other professionals will be a key part of the photography project. Check the photographer’s portfolio for skills in bespoke commercial photography before going ahead.

  • Integrate your company colours

Colour is an obvious and well-recognised aspect of any business’s corporate brand. And there are ways of bringing this out through creative, clever planning and production. For example, I may work with a client on wearing certain colours for a profile photoshoot which are in line with their corporate brand. Or I may saturate certain colours or have a bold black and white look, highlighting one colour.

 

  • Reflect your company personality and values

Bespoke commercial photography has the beauty of being able to bring out personality. If a business is known for quirkiness, fun and warmth, a serious boardroom stock shot will not reflect the brand. The setting, lighting, expressions used can all influence how the personality and values of the company come across. I frequently work with my clients to help bring their personalities into photoshoots, through putting them at ease and finding out what makes them tick.

  • Keep a consistent look and feel cross all images

Having your own suite of photographs created for your business or advertising campaign means keeping control of the look and feel. This is incredibly difficult to achieve with stock shots. Maintaining the same themes, backgrounds, styling and editing of all imagery will build brand recognition among your target audience.

  • Embrace innovation

Investing in commercial photography will enable you to be innovative, creative and adopt latest trends and ideas into your brand. For example, combining graphic design or typography into photography, going for a bold and bright colour scheme, using collage, incorporating a retro feel, bringing out textures and patterns can position you as an on trend, contemporary brand looking to make your mark, explore new ideas and push boundaries.

  • Use the photography to evoke feelings in your audience

All advertising campaigns have at their heart an objective of engaging their audience. Depending on the products, services, business brand and campaign idea, this engagement may be induced in a variety of ways. It might be through humour. Through emotion. Through inspiration. Through shock and awe. Through education. Whatever it is, the imagery needs to be powerful if it’s to be effective. A commercial photographer will have the skills to take the brief and not just photograph the subject, but do so in a way that’s evokes the right emotion – making your brand all the more memorable, original and impactful.
 

  •  Tell a story – your story

No two brand stories are the same. And audiences now have a strong interest in provenance and business values. Conveying yours through photography is a powerful way to do this – arguably there’s no more powerful way. Using generic shots will do nothing to capture imagination and encourage brand loyalty. Your own story told through quality images will bring customers with you on your brand journey.

’Photography is the story I fail to put into words’’. Destin Sparks, Photographer.

Be bold. Be yourself. Let your photography tell the story and build your brand.

 

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