Why there’s nothing funny about your website’s photos

The comic strip wife wants to replace the shabby living room set with all new furniture. Her cost-conscious husband proposes a compromise — why don’t they just freshen up the living room with a new coat of paint?

“Aieeee!” the wife shrieks at his cluelessness. “Then our old furniture will only look worse!”

Hilarious? Not if that’s what’s going on with your corporate website.

outdated COO photo

Is this your COO photo? Let’s hope not.

You freshened up your website with all that beautiful stock photography showing friendly customer service representatives, sleek professionals, and happy corporate customers. But on the website’s “About Us” page, you still have a off-kilter picture of your headquarters that looks like it was taken during the Reagan Administration. Let’s not even talk about the blurry headshot of the COO with a blow-dried pompadour and the grin of an axe-murderer.

Which brings us to the question: Why is it that companies are willing to spend thousands of dollars to launch new websites with the latest SEO and social-media bells and whistles but then go all Scrooge when it comes to spending $1,000 to get  one photo of their building and basic headshots of their four top executives?

The answer is simpler than you think. It’s because the web designer went out and got them the stock photography, but to get the building photo and the executive photos, they’d have to…well, what would they have to do? As it turns out, two fairly unpleasant tasks:

  • Find photographers
  • Schedule their colleagues to get executive portraits

Apparently, they’ll do anything to avoid this.

What’s the real cost?

Here is a page with (near the bottom) photos of three hospitals — the top two photos likely taken by amateurs, the third one clearly the work of a professional. The difference is obvious. (And where would you like to get your medical care?)

Amateur photographerThe top two photos are prime examples of what happens when a marketing group deals with the photograph issue by calling in the IT guy’s wife who “just loves to take photos.” That’s how so many company websites end up with a poorly-lit shot of the reception-area front desk with their (barely readable) logo on it—and the receptionist’s gym bag poking out from behind the desk. It explains “About Us” pages with a headshot of the CEO with his bald spot shining like a search light.

Really, isn’t it time to call the pros?

Tips for finding a real photographer

For head shots, it’s pretty easy. You’ll find photographers by searching under the keywords “(city name)” “photography” and “headshots” (or “corporate headshots”). Ask for their pricing for “onsite headshots with backdrop and lighting” and tell them you want high-resolution digital copies and full rights to one or two images for each executive.

professional photo setupA photo session for four people should take less than an hour.

Two tips:

  • If you are trying to control costs, don’t start adding in photos of lots of other employees or setting up those ghastly, fake-looking group photos in the reception area or conference room. (Group shots are cursed: someone in the photo will quit within days.)
  • Schedule the shoot for a day when the executives are going to be there and dressed professionally (such as the day of a meeting or sales presentation).

For an exterior building picture, it’s a bit more difficult to find a photographer. That’s because most of the corporate photographers, even the affordable ones, fill their sites with dramatic “feature” shots from pricey shoots that required tons of equipment and lighting — the exact opposite of what you are looking for. Don’t panic. These same folks will do basic pictures of your building or lobby (or your company van) if you stress that you want something very simple, with two or three final shots with high-resolution digital files (and full rights). This way you’ll have what you need for trade show posters, brochures, and the website.

To find a good photographer, search under your city’s name and “corporate photography” — plus the magic keyword “affordable.”

I know this all sounds painful and time-consuming, but when you get those great pictures on your website, it will be so very, very worth it.

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