How to Take Great Business Photography: Don't

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In a previous post, I wrote helpful hints for business owners wanting to take a crack at doing their own business photography.

While this DIY approach can be great for people familiar with photography, who simply need SOMETHING to post on their social feeds, or a business who simply can't afford to do it any other way, it does present some challenges you should think about before you drop money on a camera and reach for the shutter button.  

Saturation of Photography

The fact that anyone is now able to reach into their pockets, grab their phones, and take pictures that are "good enough" has led to EVERYONE posting pictures that are "good enough", making it difficult for a casual level of photography to really separate one business from another. Remember that as a business, we're not taking pictures simply to take pictures but to communicate distinct things about our business to people, and it's easy for what we're trying to say to become lost in the noise of everyone trying to market their businesses in a similar way.  

No matter how great you think the iPhone picture of your restaurant's signature hamburger is, chances are people have seen a thousand pictures just like it - and chances are, better - making the marketing effect of the picture negligible. It's just another picture in a sea of pictures. To really leverage photography, it has to be high quality, creative, and authentic - with an eye towards marketing rather than simply creating a great picture. 

Photography is "Another Thing"

Business owners need to fulfill an immense amount of responsibilities every day, all day, in order to keep their entrepreneurial machines running.

Being the person in charge of photography is an added responsibility (and one that people frequently underestimate), and this typically leads to an inconsistent implementation in a social media marketing campaign. Especially when working with social media, great photography needs to be an everyday tactic in marketing and branding, but a lot of business owners find themselves unable to keep up with the constant need for new and better pictures. 

You're Not Good At It

This might seem brutal, but the reason there are professional photographers in the world is that photography is both a skill and an art. While it's never been easier to pick up a camera and take a picture, the ability to take a good picture requires skills and creativity that some people simply don't have. It's easy for the ego can say "I can do that as well as anybody so I'll just do it myself", but in practice that may not be the case and could reflect poorly on a business. 

Anyone can learn and become better at photography, but "photography student" might not be something people have time, energy, or motivation to add to their list of duties. 

What the Solution?

The suggestion I give to people looking for business photography most often is to simply hire a photographer. They are readily available, have a range of services and skills that can fit different budgets, and having someone come into the business who can take, edit, and upload dependably great pictures can save time and energy for other responsibilities. 

Things to Look For

1. Portfolio - Because a photographer can take great landscape or portraits doesn't mean they can do great business photography, so look for people who have business photography as part of their portfolios. Look for creativity and whether or not their style of photography can represent your business well. You'll also want to see if they have multiple examples of great work - having one good looking great headshot on a website doesn't really indicate their ability, so look for multiple examples of work that could be applied to your business. 

2. Cost - Be careful about buying cheap simply because the price is at the low end of your budget, and just because someone is expensive doesn't mean they will produce exactly what you need. Look around, do some research, ask for reviews. 

3. Customer Service - If the photographer doesn't respond to e-mails, is late with delivering photographs, or doesn't listen to your needs as a business owner, hiring a photographer can become a painful process rather than one to make life easier. 

On the flip side, finding someone who is great to work with and overdelivers can be a giant relief.