Unless you are pretty good as a photographer yourself, taking your own images is a bit like heating up a ready meal. Your camera has automatic settings: a pre-chosen colour scheme, sharpness, depth of field and exposure, which are all designed to create what the camera manufacturer thinks is appropriate. You just press the button, and it’s job done.
However, like putting a ready meal in a microwave, someone else has already decided on your presentation, your seasoning, and your colours (among other things), to suit their tastes – all you are doing is pressing ‘go’ and you’ll have a hot meal, or in this case, a photograph.
This automated, ‘ready meal’ image of spaghetti is too yellowy, not bright enough and generally flat looking.
Do you know enough about photography to overcome these limitations and produce an image that’ll encourage people to buy your spaghetti?
Photography is not about simply buying yourself a professional ‘oven’ to cook in, either. You can have the most expensive kit in the world and still get very average images, while the simplest cameras have created amazing wall art. It is all about the person behind that camera.
A good photographer knows the effect on sales that different lighting set-ups can have, and also knows which settings will produce a particular optical effect.
Additionally, they will know what compositions are more attractive, and which colours are likely to be most appealing to your audience.
It’s about having the imagination to see past the obvious, and the ‘done for you ready meal’ approach, to create something truly eye-catching.
You need your customers to engage on an emotional level with you and your goods. Very few of us actually have unique goods and/or services – It is how others perceive us that counts.
Consider a meal at your favourite restaurant: See in your mind’s eye the flickering candle glow on your neatly laid table, the light reflecting in the glittering cutlery and sparkling glasses. Imagine looking down to see the neat arrangements of perfectly cooked ingredients, your nose tingling with the waft of herbs and spices; your favourite music playing in the background (not too loud though, so you can still chat).
Well, here’s the thing, those meal ingredients are the same as those in your microwave dinner – the difference is in the culinary skill and the presentation. It’s similar to why you’d hire a professional photographer.
Deciding to buy from you isn’t really about your goods at all. Instead, buying is really about how people imagine themselves feeling while using your products, and how that would affect them emotionally.
As another example, I used to sell new homes. If you bought the house off-plan, or when it was a shell, it was several thousand pounds cheaper than buying the finished product. To me, this stage is the equivalent of goods pictured against a plain background – You can see what is on offer, but not how it might relate to you and your lifestyle.
If, however, you bought based on the decorated show home, you will have paid the full advertised price.
Which, do you think, got me the most sales: off plan, or decorated show home?
What’s more, I sold more and sold quicker if I went in and altered the positions of furniture, along with adding extra cushions/ornaments/flowers or kitchen equipment etc., to achieve the more aspirational look my potential buyers were looking for.
It was exactly the same show home as before, so why did it sell better? It was because I was creating a ‘picture’ that I knew my target buyer would respond to.
So, describe your ‘picture’ to your photographer. Tell them about your brand messages, tell them about you and where you want to be, tell them about your favourite customer, and tell them why you love the products or services that you’re offering. Those things are the ‘ingredients’ from which your images will be created.
A professional photographer isn’t just a finger on a button. They are artistic people; thinking people, people with active imaginations and people who know what appeals to others in photographs. Your narratives will spark new creative ideas that’ll be unique to you, and these should help you to stand out above your competition.
By all means, tell them what you like; but not as a directive. For example, saying ‘I want you to use white backgrounds, front lighting and strong colours, and to copy this style that I’ve seen here…’ won’t get you the best results for your business.
Try saying instead, ‘My target market seems to be drawn to bright images with plainer, uncluttered backgrounds. I think they like this style that I’ve seen here. However, I’m open to all ideas that will help me stand out.’ Doing this will get you what you need for your market, but with a little unique sparkle.
And remember, a professional photographer is a chef of light and ideas. Supply your ingredients and then let them cook!