I was always aware that quality photography and graphic design was an important part of a brand’s identity but in truth it is only since moving to the country and starting to work with more regional based businesses that I’ve truly appreciated just how important it really is.
In Sydney commissioning corporate photography meant hiring a professional to take headshots of company execs, often in boardrooms with lovely paintings in the background and occasionally out in the street in amongst the skyscrapers of North Sydney, North Ryde or the CBD.
In regional NSW however, ‘corporate’ photography has taken on a whole new meaning. Would you believe me if I said some days you’ll find me mustering sheep, watching a tractor working its way across a paddock at day break, picking oranges, helping in a metal work factory (safety gear on of course), inspecting the bottling line in a winery and being a café customer? All in the name of producing meaningful photography, of course!
As much as it’s lots of fun to go to all these locations and witness different industries in action, we actually do it because we’re looking to get an accurate representation of the region we live in and the businesses that operate here. This means photographing the natural beauty of the farm land, the local main street of a town and the sheds and offices we work from. It’s somehow even more important here that the imagery is meaningful, recognisable and engages with the community. But while the audiences for some of our regional based clients may be more localised than that of bigger organisations, I truly believe the same principles apply on any scale.
It’s pretty disappointing to visit a website only to see a group shot of perfectly smiling stock photography people who look alarmingly familiar, no doubt because you’ll find them on other marketing materials around the world. I’d much rather see a photo depicting real people, places and objects – even if they are less than perfect – than be shown another overly stylised, fake stock photo.
Certainly a professional photographer is worth their weight in gold – their technical precision and ability to direct the perfect shoot is not to be sneezed at – but the expense can often be a large one, and sometimes it’s out of reach for small businesses. Especially when your business is starting out, or getting its first website for example, it’s more than acceptable to give it a go yourself. Get one of the more creative people in your team or family, arm them with the best camera you can borrow, pick an interesting location and shoot away. Have some fun and remember your business isn’t just about people; it’s about your customers, your community, your office and your products too.
Recently I’ve had my socks knocked off at the great photos produced by one client in a winery and another at a quarry. The ones at the quarry are a great example, because while pictures of heavy machinery, workshops and gravel aren’t going to win any artistic awards, they paint an accurate picture of what the business does so its customers and prospects recognise in it exactly what they’re looking for.
Regardless of whether you’re a regional accounting firm or a global export business your audience wants to get a sense of who you really are – so show them!
Polly Johnson is an account director at Sauce Communications.