Let's face it - 2020 was a shit show of a year for most of us. Businesses shut down, people dying, politicians playing politics. The world had hidden behind this façade of Instagram influencers and Tik-Tok dances for far too long. We all needed to face the music. Covid -19 taught us to remember our humanity. Well, some of us. It took a toll on us, but it's time to push forward.
If you're an artist or content creator, business owner, chef - hell, even if you walk dogs for a living - the bottom line is you will require photographic representation for your business at some point. Let's get right into it.
1: You just started your business
So, it's February of 2020 and, your set to launch your online boutique business. You're super excited that all your hard work, planning, and efforts are finally about to come true. You have been taking photos of the items and people seem to be interested. Then Covid-19 hit - now you feel stuck. You know you need to get back on it but that spark to push your business just isn't there. Clients have told you the reason they aren't buying the items is that the photos just don't draw any attention.
There are two very important messages here:
- Business depression is a real thing, and we won't go into detail about it. But understand that just because your business isn't producing doesn't make you any of those nasty thoughts that you've had about yourself. It's important to talk to someone about how you're feeling - since your business can directly affect your mental health. If you need help visit https://www.nami.org/help
- A picture is worth its weight in gold. For an online business, photos are how your clients determine value in what you're selling. Despite the many DIY videos you've watched, the money you've spent on lightboxes and setup - without the proper experience or expertise you're wasting your money.
Try supporting a local photographer who has the skills to do what you need. Here are some tips to help you:
- Make sure to get a portfolio from them.
- Whatever you do; understand that often what you pay - is what you get. A student's price may seem great at $20, they may even produce top-notch photos, but can they tell you how to resize the image for social media? Can they explain the copyright process to you? Ask these questions, go with your gut.
- Choose the right photographer based on your needs and not just your wallet.
2: You need to rebrand
You already have a business and it's going well. But you've outgrown the photos you took for your website back in 2010. Your products have changed, your business has evolved. But your photos have not. Your business may have become more refined now it's time to showcase the quality and craftsmanship of what you can provide. Meet with a professional who can address your business and your needs. If your someone who provides a service, consider a branding photographer.
3: Because Covid-19 isn't going away just yet
I will admit, I am optimistic about most things in life - but covid be damned, we will get through all of this. But let's have a reality check. What if this is the new normal? Running your business remotely for the long hall, not being able to go to a studio for photos, and pretty much that antisocial digital life that we have all been living since smartphones began anyway. If that was the new life we all have to live it would be tough.
But here's something that might shock or surprise some of you: It's not 1985 anymore. Photographers can travel to you.
There! I said what no one seems to want to say. Studio photography is not easy, but many studio photographers know what to bring to any shoot where they'll be indoors. So if you have a product that you don't feel comfortable with sending to a photographer t get photos of, ask if they offer travel product photographer services. It's not unheard of but, bear in mind you will probably pay a fee for the travel time. You want a professional headshot? They can bring a popup backdrop. There are endless ways for a photographer to handle your needs. Find the right one.
4: Spot the stock
This is a game I like to play whenever I visit a website for something that looks cool. I call it, " Spot The Stock." The game is simple: go to any website offering a service. You can also choose a business that sells a product but, it's particularly bad in a business that provides a service.
The objective is to see how many stock photos they have on their website. Then go to another business in the same category and find a business that has the same stock photos.
Didn't take long now, did it? Here's the kicker: Your customers are doing the same exact thing. They may not even recognize that they are in fact mentally eliminating a business because the photos are the same, they saw someplace else. Many people will assume that your business is copying the other business especially if they came across your website after. There is a time and place for stock photos. But they could give people a false impression of what you have to offer. You never want to misrepresent your business, so hire a professional who can take the right photos. Flatlays or sometimes called lay flats are a good option for product photography setups.
5: Content creation
Professional photos are an asset. They can be scaled down for prints, used in social media posts. They can be featured in blogs or posts -they provide endless options for you. A Really good photo can change just how well your business does. When trying to find a photographer - have a clear plan for what it is that you need, your goals, and expectations. A good photographer will also ask you a crap ton of questions - especially a branding photographer. You want to make sure that the person entrusted with showing your business off understands your needs.
As a professional photographer and web designer, I cannot lie or sugarcoat things with my clients. I am upfront and honest about what works and what won't work. I spend many long nights researching my clients' business, their competition, their market segments, who they are, their goals - I could go on and on about the care I put into my clients. Find people who are going to work twice as hard to see your success through. Build a team of skilled craftspeople. I don't just mean hands on professionals but skilled designers, photographers, web developers, software developers, engineers, IT support professionals to invest your time in. Build a community of doers and get shit done.