Why pay for a professional photographer?

Ade captured by Elisha Miller. ELM Photo Studio

Ade captured by Elisha Miller. ELM Photo Studio

Why pay for a professional photographer? I have an I-phone or my friend’s uncle has a good camera - he can do it. Better still, why pay hundreds for a photographer when we can spend £200 on a camera and get the intern to do it? He did GSCE photography at school, perfect.  

In today’s digital age, everyone and their dog or cat is a photographer. Take a look on Instagram and you will see image after image of fantastic locations, people, wildlife and creativity, most of which has been captured on a mobile phone, processed by a computer for all to see.

So why do we need you, I hear you ask?

Social media and the Internet is an amazing thing, we can share our lives and interests and project how we want others to see us. This is absolutely sensational for the individual, to be seen and heard, someone to look up to and follow. But is it real? 

For small or large businesses, social media is a great marketing tool that, with perseverance, can help push sales at a relativity small price. But to do this, what do you need? Good information and more importantly great images. An image can say a thousands words is the quote; what about never judge a book by its cover? 

Lewis Taylor captured by Elisha Miller, ELM Photo Studio

Lewis Taylor captured by Elisha Miller, ELM Photo Studio

Your images may say what you want them to say, but is it the truth?

Is the cover of your book (company) a fabricated lie? Did you use stock to show how dynamic your brand, offices, and people look. Are you using your actual staff or a model/actor to be the person holding the phone saying “call me”?

Don’t get me wrong, using models and actors to push your business forward has clear benefits, but if you were a law firm, would you use images from stock to show off your extensive statute collection, a stock image of someone busy working away at a computer, happy chaps shaking hands in a great location with the logo “deal well done!”. Everything looking all perfect, fantastic, great job, people will look at this as a dynamic and successful company, then they go over to the about us page and what do you see?

I can tell you, you either see nothing, because no one likes their photo being taken, or you will see snapshots that someone took with a mobile phone, a half arsed selection of Facebook dross that quite frankly is embarrassing. Or you told your secretary to get a photographer, find the cheapest one you can get, “we want it done quick and cheap”. So you end up with cold, out-dated, black and white images of grumpy staff, or staff looking off into the distance laughing for no apparent reason, the angry looking SEO, the uncomfortable looking lawyer who portrays nervousness and cant wait to get the heck out of dodge, the over enthusiastic intern with a great big fake smile wearing way too much makeup.

Stiff, uninterested looking staff, that all look like they have been sat there for their high school photo. You don’t care, you’re the boss, your reputation will outshine this stupid website and these unimportant images that you only had done because someone in marketing said you have to in this day and age. 

Fatos captured by Elisha Miller at Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth

Fatos captured by Elisha Miller at Gunwharf Quays, Portsmouth

Now I am your dream client, looking for representation, and I have been told there are three of four top lawyers in town, all come highly recommended. I go on their websites to see more about them as I am out of town and have not got the time to meet in person.

Ooooh this looks fancy, website is high end, the imagery is eye popping, what they describe in their bios sounds perfect for what I want, lets go to the meet the team page to see who will be dealing with my multi million pound merger, or going to work closely with my fragile father on his criminal case.

What do I think when I see the top lawyers face, looking resentful having been told to sit for his photo, the face only a mother can love, the team working alongside him all have similar monotonous looks.  As the client, what will I be thinking, was all this flare and fanfare of a website about your company a lie. if I were to judge this book by its cover alone, I am in and you are hired, but when I look deeper within the pages, I am not going to request the services of someone who looks like he gets the same reaction as the child snatcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, everyone running to the hills.

Yes I want professional, but I also want someone I can relate to. You may be scaring away good clients before you get to introduce yourself in person and the best bit is, you will never know unless told about it.

So guess what, I am telling you. 

D Coventry, Corporate Headshot captured at ELM Photo Studio, Portsmouth

D Coventry, Corporate Headshot captured at ELM Photo Studio, Portsmouth

What do you look at when you go to your company website? You have a great marketing strategy, you website has been put together at great expense and more importantly time, you have invested a lot to get it just right, you go to the meet the team page and what do you see? 10 or more images, all different, looking like a Facebook convention of lost souls, some smiling, some grumpy, some wearing outlandish or out-dated outfits. One is holding a glass of wine whilst another is sat on a deckchair in the sun.

You put £1000’s into creating your brand, your company logo. You spent hours and hours perfecting the tone and content of your website but you left the most important bit, the thing that will perfect the entire look and ascetic, you went cheap on your imagery.

Think about it, did you really put your trust in someone, probably your intern, with a mobile phone to take their own images of themselves and your staff or you just asked your staff to hand their best shots over, some may be many years old, all of differing colours, quality and some have also been put through the wringer, i.e. Photoshop so you can no longer see who the person actually is. 

Are you that half arsed at everything you do in life and business? Do you just not care about your image or even your staff? Is your company run by a group of misfits? Are you not as professional as the rest of your company suggests, or are you as the company owner or director not that bothered? 

Louis Bernard, Professional Headshot captured by Elisha Miller at ELM Photo Studio

Louis Bernard, Professional Headshot captured by Elisha Miller at ELM Photo Studio

Do this for me: Go onto Google and type your name. See what comes up!

Now if you have got a name like mine, then over the years, images have become more feminine in nature and I have to look through a few before I get to me. But here I am, my last three headshots, nothing to be embarrassed about, it is clearly I and I am not doing anything I shouldn’t. 

Elisha Miller Google Search

What comes up in your search? What images do you see of yourself, and are you happy with the selection? 

Whenever you post something on social media, your blog, that paper you just submitted to be published, there is a record of it out there and normally there is an image to go with it, is that the image you wanted to be shown or did you just leave it to someone else to select an image they took of a search of your name? 

Do another search, this time on LinkedIn. Search your company and select people from the menu to show all that currently work or have worked for your company. Take a look at the smorgasbord of faces and other interesting images that pop up, looks like a buffet at your local tapas bar, doesn’t it?! All different, some appetising and others you wouldn’t feed your dog. One or two may stand out from the rest, and if they do, ask yourself why. Look at those images and decide for yourself why are they more noticeable than others, then ask yourself is this for a good reason or not.

Take all the good ones and put them together and you will see a pattern. Those are the ones that were done professionally, capturing the essence and personality of that person. Can’t find any? Then you have answered the question in the title yourself. Only found a couple? See the sentence before.

You may look and all the images are consistent, but drab, lack colour, someone clicked the convert to black and white button to hide the fact that everyone’s skins tones are different and it is easier to hide the imperfections that make us human than spend 5 mins in post-editing to correct the issues. But you all look miserable or angry, not someone you want to work alongside. They were done on the cheap and the photographer was inexperienced, you gave them less than 5 minutes to capture the face of your company. What does that say about you? 

Kira captured by Elisha Miller at Notting Hill, London

Kira captured by Elisha Miller at Notting Hill, London

I am not saying that you all have to look stuffy, eccentric or like something from the clone wars, everyone is different and this should be portrayed in your images for your brand and your individual company.

If your company is fresh, bright and airy, have a clean white background to fit your ascetics. For a more serious, business/corporate style, then go for professionalism and look-ability. If you own a small muffin business that loves pinks and greens, go with a more cheery approach.

What you are looking for is consistency, something that matches your style and the brand you strived for so long to perfect, do not let your staff images or the image of you detract from that in any way.  

You want to show that you are all confident, capable and strong, yet approachable and have a kindness about you; this is what we as headshot photographers get from you, consistency, style, and the expression to match your company needs. 

Still not convinced, get yourself a headshot captured professionally and you will not only see the difference - you will feel it! 

You should not be asking yourself, “Why pay for a professional photographer?” You should be asking, “Why have we not paid for a professional photographer already?”