Leave it to the pros

Planit Agency
November 8, 2012

I had the good fortune to be on a commercial shoot the other day for a great client. It was quite the scene. We took one full day to build and pre-light the set and another full day to shoot. We had an entire set built from the ground up, had an incredible actor, wonderful director, amazing props, and equally impressive wardrobe and makeup folks. Everything was just awesome.

At one point during the shoot, I was so amazed by what I was seeing that I turned around to observe other people’s reactions. Instead of faces, what I saw was 10 or so camera phones pointed at the set. That really got me thinking.

What has the digital revolution done to photography? With the advent of camera phones powerful enough to capture high-resolution images, and the availability of professional-grade DSLRs, just about anyone can produce a quality image, right?

Well, not really. Photography is still a fine art.

People snap photos of everything in their day-to-day lives. From what’s on their dinner plate to a concert they’re attending to a new outfit. But the way I see it, these folks are just recording events. Like a stamp that says, “I am here” or  “I exist.” Sure, some of these shots are great, some are even amazing. But most are just snapshots.

Where does this type of photography fit into branded advertising? In my opinion: nowhere. Professional photographers spend their time utilizing light and angles and learning how to get great, dynamic images every time. They know the light quality, the models, the angles, and what will retouch well and what won’t. They understand what reads better in an image composition than to the naked eye. In one frozen moment, they can capture a company’s brand, its essence, and its beliefs.

Professional photographers create memorable, never-before-seen images that connect with an audience.

Marketing directors and business owners shouldn't cut corners when it comes to hiring a photographer to capture their brand for marketing materials. Even if their cousin just got a new Nikon or their nephew is dabbling in photo editing. Sure, they can shoot and edit it, but will it be memorable or just another shade of grey? And is that what your brand deserves?

That’s not to say all amateur photography will damage a brand. It’s OK for brands to host Facebook contests calling for fan-generated photography to help promote their products. Let fans have some room to play with and be a part of your brand so that they feel some ownership and become champions of your brand.

But let it stop there. A brand image deserves more than a snapshot. It deserves a polished image that can translate ideas and capture an audience. Invest in an image that makes people change from observers to active participants in your company by reshaping their beliefs. That’s not an easy task for 1/500th of a second. But that’s the challenge. And an amateur snapshot will never get you there.