Is a Photo is worth a Thousand Words?

The importance of photography can not be understated.  People look at images way before they start to read.  In fact, if they don’t like the images, they probably won’t bother to read whatever else is on the page, unless the title or content is deemed valuable to them.

No matter what type of business you have, whether it be a product or service, photos can make or break your advertising efforts.  While every photo doesn’t have to be an award winning photo, they do need to be relative and engaging.

A series of photos should be able to tell your story without words.  Should be able to take you from what you offer, and how it can benefit the viewer.  Photos can be used for explanation or instruction.

What can a photo accomplish?

Photographs can instill emotion, emit love, rage, interest, desire, and pretty much any emotion you can think of.  That is the power of a photograph.  So make sure the photos you select take your audience where you want them.  You want your photos to enter into the viewers subconscious and show them how what you offer will enhance their life either by making it easier or even instilling fear (fear of loss).  “Act now before there gone”.  “We only have 30 spots left”. “30% off through Wednesday”.  “loose that weight with our product”.  A photo needs to convey the story to the point that brings people to act and hopefully act on your offer.  You can do that with photography and back it up with words (your copy).  But again if the photography is not engaging, then they probably won’t read all that wonderful copy you painstakingly wrote, or paid a copywriter to write for you.

What is the Difference between a Photo and an Image?

A photograph is an exact historical duplication of an instant in time or a raw reproduction of visual matter.  An image can start with a photo and then be manipulated to contain an endless array of effects, layers, colorations, text and most anything digitally imaginable.

I received my first camera when I was about 15.  My friends were never surprised by the presence of a camera in my hands.  Spent years developing and honing those skills, shooting everything from parades, events, weddings, auto shows, beach models and most everything imaginable.  Later I started photographing commercially for industrials and product photography.  I like commercial and product photography because you can take as much time as you need to adjust lighting, angles, depth of field etc.  I always liked the fast pace of wedding photography because you “had to get that shot” and you had to get it within seconds (or less).  Lots of photographers won’t shoot weddings because of the stress involved, and of course there are those who thrive under the pressure and make their entire business by photographing weddings.  The two main reasons people shy away from wedding photography is the pressure and the brides mother!  I always explained to the brides mother that she hired me to shoot the wedding so let me do what you hired me to do (in a nice way).  The wedding lasts but a day, the marriage (and photos) last forever.  Ok, the photos last a lot longer than some marriages, but you get the point.

Photography for Print

If you are including your photos and images in a piece of collateral that is to be offset printed, then you need to make sure they are saved in CMYK (Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black) color space and not RGB (Red, Green, Blue), which is what monitors use.  Huge color shifting may occur if you send out files for print in the wrong color space.  Also, the resolution needs to be high enough and have enough density to be able to reproduce without jaggies.  Technology has advance greatly but still can’t create something from nothing, so make sure you have high resolution images in your files.  300 PPI is generally applied and changing the physical size of the photo at the same time.

Photography on Your Website

Photos for your website is quite different and requires a whole different approach to the process.  While photos for print needs to be big in file size and high resolution, photos for your website and on-line use need to be just the opposite.  They need to be small in resolution and highly compressed so they load quick.  With today’s monitors and graphic programs doing such a great job on compression, you can safely save your images in pixels.  This is measured in PPI (Pixels Per Inch).  Set your image size in inches, and as you do that, you will notice that the pixel count will change along with it.  Set it to a lower resolution than you would for print (72-96 ppi) and save for the web.  View compression rate and resulting file size and if your program has a preview, like a current and after compression is applied view, use that.  If it looks good on your monitor, it will probably look good on most.  There is a science to using compression, so don’t over do it because if you do, your images will become blurry.  If you are doing it yourself, commit to a lot of trial and error.

Where do I get Photos to use?

There are lots of stock agencies that have photos for just about any subject and they are reasonably priced.  While this may be less expensive than hiring a photographer, they just don’t have the personalization that you may need.  Most people can spot a stock image and it looses a lot of traction for your story right off.  However, there is a place for stock.  Say your business is a vacation spot on a beach somewhere, there are thousands of images of people walking, playing, jumping etc. on the beach.  You want to invoke “the happy feeling”, “the get away”, “the carefree life” … You can use stock images for this type of advertising and be just fine.

There are also many free image sites where you can pick up images at no cost.  Some require you to acknowledge the photographer in your copy (generally underneath an image).  These photographers rely on you giving them credit to grow their business.  Photography is a costly business in that today’s cameras are in the thousands of dollars, the lenses are in the thousands of dollars and then you add in lighting, portable battery packs, tripods, ball heads, and a ton of ancillary equipment necessary for operation.  Not to mention the massive computers and software programs and 3rd party filters and effect plugins needed to manipulate photos to get them just right.

How Stock Photography Works

I was a stock photographer for awhile and can tell you from experience that getting images that are accepted by these agencies is a lot harder than point and shoot and sell!  The business model goes something like this.  You find a subject matter that you want to photograph, you go set up and do the actual shoot.  If you need lighting to highlight a particular part of the scene you set those up.  In all, you may have a half a day in the shoot.  Next day, you get them on your photo database and select which ones you want to work with.  Then you eliminate even further to just a few.  Then you take those few and work them in your image editing program (Photoshop).  Do the cropping, adjust hue, saturation, colorization, remove artifacts and things in the image that are distracting and just don’t belong.  And after an hour or so with each photo, you upload to a stock agency such as 123RF, Fotolia, Shutterstock, Getty Images,Depositphotos, Adobe Stock, Dreamstime and others.  I am a stock contributor to the above sites and have sold images world wide.

After uploading, you need to assign keywords to each photo and submit.  Then you wait for the agency to review your submission.  There are a lot of reasons why they refuse your image.  Among these are poor quality, wrong focal point (in their opinion), oversaturation, over filtered, out of focus and my favorite “we already have too many images in this category”.  You just spent hours or days preparing your image only to have them denied for submission.

Is Stock Photography worth it?

Then, one day, you get an email saying “Congratulations” one of your images has sold!  You get really excited and you go to the acct area of that agency and find that you made $.25 for the sale.  I have invested over $20,000 in photography equipment, spent days shooting and getting my images accepted, sell one and make a quarter!  Needless to say, it was disappointing.  But at the same time it was rewarding in that I realized my talents had merit and was accepted by the very critical eye of the stock agencies.  It did make me a better photographer because it made me hone the craft to perfection.  Because that is only what they will accept.  So if you buy an image from a stock agency, know you are getting a technically perfect image to use.

Should I do my own Photography?

If you have a decent camera, depending on the subject matter, and you don’t have budget for a pro, you could do it yourself.  But keep in mind some of the things we talked about earlier.  You need to tell a story and you need proper lighting.  And like anything else, sometimes hiring someone who knows what their doing will carry you further faster!  And you may find that hiring is actually less costly when you consider the return on investment because professional images will help you outsell “not so good” images.

Look at your budget!

Of course you could do your own and get by until your budget allows to buy or hire a pro., but again, if people view photos before reading your content, you will be hurting yourself from the beginning.  Resist the urge.  Also resist the urge to have your friend “who has a camera” to take your all important photos.  Owning a fancy camera does not a photographer make!  I have seen soooooo… many people fall into this trap.  Your friend does you a favor and takes photos for you for nothing or for $50.  Hands you a thumb drive and says here they are.  You open them and find none to be what you expected.  Are you obligated to use them?  Yep, probably, unless you want to hurt their feelings and damage your friendship.  Is it going to help you?  Nope.  Remember the importance of good imagery in your advertisments?  You are trapped and the only way out is to apologize to your friend the best you can and say something like “I decided to go a different direction”.  There, I just saved your friendship.

You Should Capture Emotion in your Photos!

“Every picture tells a story” (lyrics by Rod Stewart).  But it is not exactly accurate.  A photo is a split instance in time.  Perhaps 1/60th of a second.  In that short timeframe, all physical emotions are froze.  It may not be true to the moment.  A person could be between gestures, finishing a sentence, taking a breath, blinking their eyes.  (A blink of the eyes takes approx. 1/3rd of a second).  They may be wearing what looks to be a smile or a frown or the light may be too bright and they are squinting.  That is one reason why professional photographers take 3 shot bursts (another reason is camera setting bracketing).  Pros know that this 1/60th may not be true to the moment.  Novice photographers, snap the shutter and say “got it”.  A photo does act to sort of capture time, but here is where a series of photographs make more sense.  At least when shooting live beings.  Because in a second of time the face can move all over the equator.  Your subject can go from a worried look to a half smile to a fake smile to a genuine smile etc.  And the more people in your scene, multiply this times as many people that are in the shot.

The Power of Photography

If you are photographing matter (physical substance), like a coffee cup or still like like a vase of flowers.  You have no emotions within the subject, so you have to create mood.  You do that with lighting and other items in your shot.  You create the mood with focal point, depth of field, bokeh (blurring out the background) and lighting.  This mood is what creates the emotion.  Emotion causes response.  Response can convert to sales.  Sales equals income and hopefully profit!  Yes, photography is powerful.

TrendStrategic offers professional Photography.

Our Photography business goes by the name of NewLine Photo.  I have taken down the galleries, but photos are in portfolio. For awhile I was a member of the Kansas Professional Photographers Association (KPPA).  If we are going to be working for you in other capacities, then it makes sense to have us do your photography.  Because at that point we know what you are wanting to accomplish and we can incorporate that theme into your images.

Give us a call to talk about how TrendStrategic can help your business grow!