Short answer: yes.
I’ve been a photographer for 22 years. I have seen countless images: thousands that I have taken, tens of thousands my father took, images created by art directors, stock galleries, other professional and amateur photographers, untrained picture-takers, etc. As the technology for image capturing constantly improves, the barrier to entry for taking decent pictures lowers with every new smart phone launch. Most of us pocket a camera that is better than the first digital cameras from Kodak and Canon.
The phone camera is designed for the picture-taker. Auto settings allow the most novice creatives to take what might seem like a good picture. And that is what you see most of the time: pictures. We flood the internet with them: pictures of our families, our meals, our vacations, our pets. Tons and tons of pictures. Our eyes and brains see and process innumerable pictures every day. We scroll and make unconscious decisions and snap judgments based on these pictures. (“Cute dog!” “Oh, delicious-looking burger!” “Gorgeous beach!”)
With photography, the intention of the story creates purpose and drives composition. Framing, sharpness, focus, lighting, and narrative are important and crafted with intention; the composition then becomes a photograph.
This is the important distinction between a picture and a photograph. Don’t get me wrong, I take plenty of both every day. Outside of work, I don’t carry a DSLR around. I take a lot of pictures, and they’re great. I have plenty of amazing pictures of my kids and wife, my dog, my hometown, places I’ve visited, experiences I have had, food I have eaten. But I know what my intent is for these pictures, and that is for me to look at them on my phone, to text someone, or to share on social. The audience for these pictures is finite and well-defined (me, family, friends). These pictures have a limited currency; they age well only because they become history or memory, but are only valuable to me personally. And that’s the only return I expect from them. Pictures are distinguished by their transient nature, the fact that they are taken without much thought, and the ways in which they are easily produced in high volume.
This is where I draw the line in the sand.
To me, photographs are purposefully different from pictures. When I am behind a camera working for a client, I take photographs. I expect a return on my investment of time and expertise, as do my clients. A clear intention drives the composition of a photograph. The client has business-related or economic goals for the photographs we compose and shoot. The purpose might be to distinctively showcase a new associate, to capture a mechanical process and communicate the qualities of that process to a prospect, or to highlight capabilities of a piece of technology or a team of people. With photography, we capture (and create) moments that evoke feelings, tell an intentional story, and build confidence in the viewer. Regardless of the subject, we want the viewer to think “I need to have that.”
The old saying goes: “First impressions last a lifetime.” There is biological, psychological evidence that proves this adage. As humans, we are programmed to make decisions about our surroundings and interactions using our own assumptions and experiences – through the literal lenses of our own eyes. And this is why the photograph is so important.
We are pummeled with thousands of images a day, each time viewing, processing and judging in less than a second. If a prospect finds their way to your website, I guarantee they will judge your company and quality of your products on the images first, rather than the words.
When I work with a company on messaging, part of my process requires them to list the words they want associated with their brand. Most conversations yield a similar word list: trust, quality, expertise, precision, transparency. These same qualities should be applied to your images.
We work with brilliant manufacturers who make complex, innovative machines; I call this machine “the million dollar box.” They have invested significant resources developing, building, and testing this million dollar box. Yet when it comes to sales, the opportunity they have to showcase their million dollar box is often squandered on mere pictures, hastily captured with the engineer’s iPhone using whatever lighting was available in “portrait mode.”
Properly lit, professionally framed, and expertly executed photographs of that million dollar box send a very different message than a carelessly snapped picture. The professional photograph communicates all the similarly branded words we established earlier: quality, precision, expertise. Lots of people and companies understand the importance of this, and that is why people like me are lucky enough to make a living photographing these million dollar boxes. They understand the importance of their images in the crowded visual marketplace we all currently inhabit. If you’ve put the hours into creating that amazing product or service, and you are cutting corners when it comes to your visual marketing, then you’re stopping just short of the finish line.
Here at Hayman Studio we have helped hundreds of clients capture quality photographs of their products and services. Each time striving to capture the quality, trust, honesty, qualities, capabilities and story of their offerings. We have the multi-generational experience, equipment, and creativity that make this possible.
When it comes to marketing your products and services, are you going the distance and giving yourself the best shot at a good impression? In a world overwhelmed by pictures, we’d love your image to be a photograph.
Below are some images. Can you identify which I took as pictures and which I took as photographs?
If you want to highlight your business, people, products or capabilities with updated photography, call me at the Studio today, 717-843-8338.