What does your website’s ‘About’ page imagery really say about you?

March 05, 2019  •  1 Comment

What does your website’s ‘About’ page imagery really say about you?

The ‘About’ or team page of a website has always been important, but is of rising importance as websites increasingly become the ‘shop window’ for businesses. It goes without saying that e-commerce and online stores rely entirely on their websites for sales, but even for other businesses, the website will generally sit at the centre of marketing activity and be key to establishing credibility and authority.

Most businesses will invest significant sums on logos, branding and website imagery, whether stock or bespoke photography.

But the page of the website often neglected is the ‘About’ page, or team pages leading from the ‘About’ page.

Why?

Surely in the social media and networking-dominated business climate in which we operate, people increasingly do ‘business with people’. With face to face sales meetings falling second place to online and social marketing strategies and interaction, if we want to see the whites of a potential supplier’s eyes, the first port of call will often be the About page of a website.

Surely, every organisation has a vested interest in ensuring their people come across on their website as professional, personable, approachable and friendly, smart and presentable.

Surely every business would prefer their imagery to represent the company brand, whether that’s through the setting of their team (for example at desks, an external work setting, or even social setting) or the style of the photography (whether formal, informal, creative or quirky).

And surely every company would want a consistent look to their team photographs, conveying a well-established team, on board with the organisation’s ethos and values.

But in many cases….

  • ‘About’ page contains a picture of the Director only, even when this person plays a minimal role in day to day business relationships with customers
  • Team photographs are completely inconsistent, random and poor quality, obviously supplied by the team themselves varying from selfies in bars, badly cropped holiday shots, huge range of attire, and completely irrelevant off brand settings and styles

The result?  A wasted opportunity and a poor image of the business.

A company who approached this in the right way…. Psychology Direct

As a commercial photographer I was asked to photograph the team at Psychology Direct for their upcoming new website.   Psychology Direct are a business whose values are very much focused on people and quality. They have a strong, happy, highly engaged and valued team, whatever their role (including Buzz the dog). They pride themselves on client service and the strength of their professional relationships, and whilst most of their relationship-building occurs on the telephone, they wanted their team to look the approachable, friendly, go-the-extra-mile bunch they truly are.

The decision was taken to not only take individual high quality professional profile shots of all team members (including Buzz the dog), but also some lovely whole-team shots.

Conveying and reinforcing the company brand through high quality commercial photography

     

 

The individual profile shots were designed to be just that, individual. We wanted a natural, informal feel to the photographic style and I couldn’t have worked with a friendlier, more open, relaxed group of people (and pets), making it so much easier to achieve this natural look. We added variety and conveyed the fun personalities of team members through using a range of poses rather than only face-to-camera shots. Incorporating shots of Buzz the Dog enabled the injection of humour and light-heartedness, again, reflecting the company brand.

For the group team shot, we wanted to reinforce the close-knit nature of the team whilst also promoting the company. Having the whole team in one shot, with equal presence was a challenge. But taking a wide shot, with team members stood proudly around Psychology Direct banners, enabled us to achieve a high quality, professional, unique image which achieved all the objectives.

Present your team in the best light

Using my portable studio, shots were set against a white background, so the team member was the main focus of the shot, with no distractions. Shots taken against a white background can run the risk of being stark, and this is where commercial photography experience and skills come in. Getting the lighting right is crucial - the right levels of light, delivered at the right angle – in this case 45 degrees from the subject on either side of me about 1 ½ metres from the background.  I use a light meter to measure the exposure I require, 200 ISO and grey card my camera for best results. I use a full-frame Nikon750 and a portrait lens 50-70mm for the most flattering angle. Shooting in a raw format enables me to deliver maximum digital quality when it comes to post production and retouching.

Fantastic results, from every angle

The resulting shots, achieved over one morning, are a great asset to the company. Elevating their About/Team page to a professional level, potential clients and Associates will now gain a positive impression of the team at Psychology Direct they’ll be dealing with.

As part of our rebrand and website redevelopment and the addition of a 'Meet the team' page we needed a great set of team photos that reflected our personality whilst being professional.

From the initial enquiry to receiving the actual photos, Amanda was warm, accommodating, receptive, creative and all the timescales were met.

As a result, we now have photos that the team love and most importantly reflects us, our values and our culture. It was worth every penny and would recommend Amanda to anyone and everyone!’’. Aaron Banham, Director, Psychology Direct.

Looking for your website ‘About’ page to say something positive about you? Then ensure the photographs of your team say ‘professional’ as well as reflect the values and brand of the business.

To discuss your project or for a quote, contact me on [email protected] or 07767 776839.

 


Why website photography matters more now than ever before

October 08, 2018  •  2 Comments

Why website photography matters more now than ever before

Have you spotted the recent trends in website design? Image-dominated, simple, classy, with a lot of websites moving towards one page.

With most people viewing websites on their phone or tablet, the first image they see must tell them everything. It must reinforce the company brand. Convey the product or service you are selling. Get across your selling points and benefits. Have an impact on the person viewing it, whether it’s jaw-dropping wow factor, or to evoke emotion, curiosity or humour.

Whatever it does, it’s a big ask from that one image.

And with so much hanging on that image, why not invest in a good one?

Reliance on stock images for your website carries risk. The risk that another company could have the same image. That it won’t look authentic. It will be very difficult, if not impossible to find the ideal stock image that’s an accurate reflection of your brand and does your product or service justice. It limits creativity and ability to convey an advertising concept that’s completely original and true to you.

If your business is in something visual, your website photography becomes all the more important. It’s an opportunity to put your product or portfolio on display looking its absolute best. For a landscaper or garden design company for example, there is no better way to ‘sell’ and make an impact than stunning, high-quality photography of gardens they have created that truly reflects the quality of the work.

It’s no longer good enough to just say what you do is great and expect potential customers to envisage what you can do for them.

You need to show them.

Sell them the dream. Leave them in no uncertain terms of what they can expect from you. If you don’t, you’ve missed an opportunity. After all, any company can source a stock image. But a high quality, professional company will be more likely to invest in showcasing their work through a quality suite of photos.

If you have made the decision to use bespoke, not stock, images on your website, the next, very important factor to bear in mind is the quality of those images. As great as phone cameras are; they cannot take photographs of the quality needed to front your website or populate your portfolio page.

Photography, whether of products, interiors or exteriors needs expertise on lighting, settings, camera angles, editing and production.

A recent project involved a company specialising in minimalist-style glazing installations who wanted photographs to set off the stunning nature of their products and workmanship. Photographing glass requires very specialist skills to ensure no reflection and an attractive view, in order to capture the beauty of something that is essentially invisible. A challenging photography brief, getting this right was key to the success of this company’s website mgiuk.

Matt Woodacre at Indigo Marmoset, Indigo Marmoset the web designers behind MGI’s website said ‘working with an expert photographer to deliver beautiful quality and well-produced imagery, elevated the website significantly. It gave the design a truly bespoke, upmarket and quality feel, perfect for the audience we were targeting’.

A commercial photographer can take your project and bring them to life in a spectacular way. They can interpret a brief and create a visual style and finish of photography that is as individual as you are. They can ensure visitors to your website are inspired and wowed.

For the ultimate professional business image, make sure you invest in that website image.

For advice, quotation or to arrange photography for your portfolio or website at very reasonable rates, contact me, Amanda Duncan at [email protected]

 

 


Want people to believe your brand? Make sure your photography is authentic.

June 20, 2018  •  1 Comment

Want people to believe your brand? Make sure your photography is authentic.

Websites are visual channels, where the words and messages are crucially important, but so is the imagery. And yet, the imagery often comes second place.

It shouldn't.

All the elements have equal weighting in terms of having an impact on the potential customer. The images support the message. If the message is one of high end quality; poor quality photography will negate this. If the message is about quirky, creative innovation; bog standard, dull photography will work against it.

But the implications can be worse than that.

People are savvy. They are not easily fooled. If they spot the same stock shot you are using on another website, they are going to smell a rat. Of course, that’s unlucky, and you’re no less a genuine, credible business. But it will have an impact on customer trust as they don’t know whether you’re a bona fide company or a not-so-credible company hiding behind a website.

If you’re relying on stock shots, there are other dangers. Stock shots, particularly if containing images of people, are often shot in different countries and some time ago. Rooting through images to look for authentic-looking, up to date images is an enormous task and sometimes background details can be a dead giveaway on close inspection. People’s clothes, the phones they are holding, the types of drinks on a table; can all indicate a completely different culture and era. This could completely devalue and damage your brand.

Bespoke, commercial photography on the other hand will be totally unique to you. Tailored to your brand. Able to convey your values and selling points. It will set off your products, service or people in a way that reflects what you want people to believe about them.

Hope to be perceived as upmarket and high quality? Nothing shows quality better than a beautiful high-quality suite of photographs, with all the production and editing required to refine it to perfection. Aiming to come across creative/quirky/contemporary? Stylised photography, blending photography with graphic design, or using monochrome, saturated colours or other innovative techniques, gives you the opportunity to display your creative side. Looking to show off projects in a gallery? Ensure you use the genuine article – and show it off in its finest glory with the lighting, angles, attention to detail that a professional photographer will use to ensure your portfolio sells.

Authentic photography that’s bespoke and tailored to you is the most believable, convincing and powerful option when it comes to imagery.

And that, is what you want from your marketing.

To be believed. To engage and persuade your customer that buying from you is the right choice.

  

It’s not as expensive as you think. It can be quicker to arrange than you think. And the results will be more spectacular and impactful than you can imagine.

To discuss your website photography and how I can help, contact me now [email protected], 07767 776839.  All the above photographs are from a bespoke commercial shoot for Silvermere Inn on the Lake, Cobham.

 

 


Five tips on how to look great in your professional headshot photo

April 11, 2018  •  1 Comment

 

The dreaded moment has arrived; your manager has informed you that photographers will be coming in to take staff photos. Or maybe you’ve finally accepted you need to invest in a decent photograph for your LinkedIn profile.

 

If your heart sinks at the very thought, you are not alone. As a commercial photographer I have taken hundreds of professional/corporate headshots and very few people make highly natural, confident, eager-to-be-there subjects.

 

In my experience, the lack of enthusiasm for photoshoots are based on two things.

 

1. People are not comfortable with the actual process itself; with the fear of the experience usually ranging from mild reluctance through to extreme discomfort.

 

2. Worry about how they will look in the photograph. This may be due to the general lack of confidence many of us have with our looks, or sensitivity around a particular feature.

 

If this is the case for you, you’re completely normal!

 

Most people are not super-models or in love with their own looks.

 

So, given that photographs are now an important part of networking and marketing for professional individuals and companies, what can we all do to make the process, and outcomes better?

 

Well first of all, it’s the job of a commercial photographer to put you at ease. It’s not simply my role to set up the perfect lighting and shot. It’s to engage and work with you so you look and feel your best.

 

I’ll listen.

 

I’ll understand what you or your company wants to achieve from the shot – whether the look required is corporate, friendly and approachable, quirky and fun or something else. But I’ll also understand any worries. ‘I hate my teeth!’. ‘I look better from the left!’. Most people will have an exaggerated perception of their own concerns, however, though the lighting, angles and editing, I can ensure that everyone’s delighted with the end result.

 

But what can you do to help ensure you end up with a photo you love? Here’s my five tips for preparing yourself for your photoshoot.

1.  Choose flattering clothes. Most people know the style and colour that flatters them. If you have a feature you’re less happy with, use accessories to distract (if possible). For example, a scarf around a long neck. It’s important to pick the clothes that fit your personal or company brand. If you’re a creative personality known for never wearing a suit, there’s no need to wear one for your photo. However, looking smart and presentable with ironed, clean, smart/casual clothes will be important.

 

2. Make sure you use a professional photographer who will bring with them a mobile studio with professional lights. Getting a colleague or friend to take a picture will never give the same professional outcome that will flatter. So many amateur photographs suffer from bad exposure and if that’s not enough to persuade you perhaps this is - the right lighting can make all the difference to eliminating dark bags under the eyes and complimenting different shape faces.

 

3. Ensure the background does not distract from you. A mobile studio is always going to be far better in terms of the background, or at the very least find a plain, nice, light wall. So many so-called professional shots contain backgrounds of bars/holiday restaurants/other people or objects/unsightly walls or fences. It’s distracting and it’s unprofessional.

 

4. It’s hard I know, but try to exercise a positive mindset before the shoot to love the camera. The photoshoot is happening. You want the photo to portray you as a confident professional who clients trust to handle their business. Yes, it’s a case of stepping out the comfort zone and acting a little. But take a hint from the top models who look right into the lens; imagine something that makes you smile and your personality will shine through. You never know, you might even enjoy yourself!

 

5. Depending on your business, add a creative edge by including a prop or accessory. It can add interest or an element of fun to the photo, portray what you do and make you stand out from the crowd. For example, mine involves me holding my camera. My camera is an integral part of my personal brand. It sums up what I do. I feel happy and natural with a camera in my hands. If there’s something similar that works for you, or even an unusual but complementary business setting, then let your photographer help you get creative.

 

If you follow this guide, your photoshoot will be a painless, even fun experience, with spectacular results. Good luck!

For examples please click on link.

http://www.amandaduncanphotography.co.uk/p188089029

 

 


Ten tips on how to ensure your food photography looks classy, not cheesy

February 21, 2018  •  4 Comments

Ten tips on how to ensure your food photography looks classy, not cheesy

In photography terms it should be simple. Food is an inanimate object. It can’t shuffle around like people, you’re not reliant on weather conditions and you can control the lighting and the setting.

‘Intagramming’ food is now ‘a thing’. Everyone with a phone appears to be capturing meals out or homemade delights for public consumption.

But oh boy, can it go wrong.

If your trade is a restaurant, catering or food supplier of any sort, you need to get your food photography right.

The challenge is, that usually when we judge the appeal of food, we don’t just use one sense. We use smell and taste, we’re likely to be hungry and all our senses will be shouting ‘let me eat you now’.

But when it comes to viewing photographs of food; we must rely on one sense only; sight. Many meals without the benefit of smell, taste and appetite are simply not going to cut the mustard visually.

That’s our first problem.

The second one is that the purpose of the food photography is absolutely key to the photographic style. Think kebab shop pictures vs high end restaurants. Think good affordable, chain restaurant family grub vs Michelin Star artistry.

Depending on the type of food, ambience of the establishment, audience, brand and where the photography is to be displayed; any photographic shoot involving food will require an entirely bespoke approach.

Which is where a seasoned commercial photographer comes in.

An experienced photographer will be able to advise on dinner and glassware. Lighting. Setting. Creative ideas such as showing ovens or chefs. Arrangement of food to show it off in its most appertising light. Working with dishes that may not work well in photography (think enormous portion of saucy curry; it’s the last thing most people want to look at).

So here’s my top ten tips for ensuring the food images on your website or menu make your customers’ mouths water and stomachs rumble;

1. Ensure the presentation is as good as it can possibly be. Clean table and tableware. No clutter or distracting objects in the background or foreground. Food placed carefully and beautifully on a nice plain colour table.

 

2. Think about the choice of dishes you use on your website. Those covered in a sauce will need to be carefully thought out to ensure they are visually attractive. A garnish or sprinkling of a topping may provide a pleasing element and variety to a dull looking (albeit delicious) dish.

3. Ensure food does not look dry or curled up; you may need to be producing food and photographing in quick succession.

4. Use crockery and portion sizes that are accurate and reflect your brand. Bustling family authentic Italian? Use Mediterranean crockery; show the portion sizes you offer, perhaps incorporate other items that support the brand such as olive oil dispensers or a bread and olive basket. Contemporary/stylish high-end cuisine? Use large size white plates. Present the food like a work of art, using the space carefully. Show off unusual dishes and features.

   

5. Get the lighting right. The lighting is crucial with any photography, but especially with food. Allow as much natural light as possible to set off true colours and vibrancy of the food. Check, and be aware of the lighting used in a restaurant setting. Tungsten or fluorescent lights can affect the colour balance in the camera, with unappetising orangey or blue-tinged results.

6. Accessorise in a stylish manner. A napkin here. A piece of cutlery there. Something to add a little creative touch to the scene.

7. Be careful when you hit zoom. A zoom should be a wonderful thing when it comes to food; showing off the item in all its quality and mouth-watering splendour. But you’ll need to know what you’re doing.

   

8. Watch your angles. A shot taken at a slight angle can cause plates to look lopsided and distract from the food. Clever use of angles however can make a tall glass look majestic; a long platter appear endlessly enticing or aerial plate shots look funky and artistic.

9. Photographing drinks or fancy cocktails? Again, artistry, style and lighting is everything. Vibrant colours, interesting background and sparkling clean glassware can make for stunning, dazzling irresistible beverages. Otherwise, it’s just an expensive drink.

   

10. Choose a commercial photographer who has experience in food and drink photography. It really is a specialist skill. Done well it can ensure your food products sell like hot cakes.

If you would like to see my food photography portfolio, feel free to contact me.

Bon appetit!

 

 

 

 

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