“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” Ansel Adams

Anyone can take a photograph, now more than ever before. DSLRs and smartphone cameras are constantly improving, making photography an increasingly accessible medium.

Yet not everyone knows how to read or predict the lighting of a room; or how to generate meaningful visual messages that boost a business’s bottom line.

That’s the value of hiring professional photographers: They are experts in how to help spot potential, define purpose, and produce profits from your ideas or needs. Simply put: they see what you don’t, and know how to spin gold from it.

Professional Photographers See Potential

When you first walk into a room, what catches your eye? Chances are your answer was one of the following. The overall scene or layout of the room, color, people or lack of people, the activity or motion.

When a professional photographer walks into a room, don’t be surprised if they seem distracted. There could be any number of shiny things drawing their attention: the way the light filters in through the windows; what could be moved where to create a more striking scene; or how the paint on the walls is making people’s peepers pop (try saying that three times fast)!

“I love to see something that looks normal to most people, and know the potential it has for an entirely different scene,” Kelly Ann Settle, founder and CEO of Kelly Ann Photography, said. “It makes showing before and after photos to my clients fulfilling when they say, ‘I had no idea my space or product could look like that!’ That’s when I know I helped them capture something magical.”

For Kelly, this magic was recently found in a commercial session featuring gas pumps.

“The clients sent me these initial images they took with their cellphone camera of each pump laying on top of a piece of white paper,” she said. “The first things I noticed were how flat and dull this made their equipment seem. There was no life in this product that we so regularly use in our day to day.”

So how do you bring a gas pump to life, short of animating it into a cartoon? 

“I knew I had to take photos of the pumps upright and all at the exact same angle to make them uniform for the composite I had to create for the clients brochure” she said. “At first I hung them up with a fishing line, but between the pumps tilting and twirling I just couldn’t get it right. So I called my friend & mentor Joe Glyda to brainstorm solutions and he suggested mounting it on a light stand – which worked perfectly!”

With the pumps stabilized, Kelly was then able to focus on the details that make a difference: ensuring that the chrome shined correctly; adjusting the angle to show off the plastic’s texture. The result? Photos that showcased the true quality and usability of this client’s equipment.

product photography gas pumps commercial industrial photographer

“If you don’t know what you’re looking for, you don’t realize what these small changes can do for you,” Kelly said. “And that’s where you lose out on creating something useful and unique.”

Professional Photographers See Purpose

Even if your product is immediately recognizable, like a gas pump, you still need a clear reason as to why a picture of it is worth looking at – let alone taking.

For Kelly’s commercial and corporate clientele, this often means helping them dig past “what they do” to define the expectations and experiences of their customers. Such was the case for a title company, whose staff didn’t want their new headshots to come off as stiff and standoffish. 

“This team helps people buy and protect their homes, so they want to be perceived as approachable and trustworthy,” Kelly said. “You’re not going to convey that standing and smiling against a blank wall in your office. So I coached them through changing their body language with the camera to imitate a comfortable, relatable conversation: leaning forward in their chair from behind a desk to show interest; or tilting their head to show care and concern. We wanted their future customers to see exactly what walking into this office with these people would look like.”

But what does this accomplish? Exactly what the client wanted: if the experience of walking into this office matches the expectations set by these photos, then a culture of approachability and trust is established before the first conversation even takes place.

Group corporate head shot photography executive portrait

The same is true for stock photography, which can quickly become stale if it’s not accurately representing a business’s branding or message. Plus, anyone can use them; and it’s likely your competition already is! In fact, an average image on the free stock website Unsplash is viewed over 600,000 times and downloaded over 4000 times. Curious to know where your stock photos are popping up? Check out Google Image Search, where you can upload a visual file to see what other sites are using it.

After you do that, you’ll want to get in touch with your favorite photographer ASAP. A custom stock library that features your own team members, locations, atmosphere, and more will distinguish your business or branch in the community.

“We recently did a full day of custom stock photography for a local bank, and they wanted content that captured not just their look but their specific locations,” Kelly said. “So in addition to taking photos that incorporated their colors and logo, we also explored their space to capture qualities they wouldn’t find anywhere else; like the knick knacks on an employee’s desk, or the fabric patterns used for their furniture. We also used their employees as models!”

These are the sort of photos that empower not only your customers with knowledge, but your team with ownership and pride.

Professional Photographers See Profit

No matter how or where your people and products are displayed, the reputation they create directly influences and ideally improves your revenue.

We are an increasingly technology-dependent world, and a company’s digital platforms are a majority of people’s first and only experience with their product. For those customers, there is no getting drawn into a shop by something shiny in the window; there is no walking around a store and talking to its clerks. What they see is what they expect to get and that should be what your images convey.

This can’t be more true for the food service industry, which from dine-ins to deliveries can face instant feedback and fallout from (sometimes invisible) patrons.

“I know I’ve chosen restaurants entirely based on their website’s photography,” Debbie Sweitzer, studio manager, said. “Understanding what Kelly does, seeing what it takes to get that perfect shot, tells me right away that this person sets a higher standard for themselves and their business – they’re investing back into it.”

The value of that investment shows in an informal poll, taken last week on social media using the set of photos below. The results reveal that nearly 7 out of 10 people find a dish more appealing when photographed by a professional photographer.

professional photograph versus cell phone photography food photo

Their reason? Presentation!

“The lighting and style and feel of this [professional] photo does it for me. The other has harsh lighting, no texture to the food, the beer looks unpleasant to the eye. This photo says commercial photography and makes me think this place knows how to pay attention to detail.”

“The [professional photo] looks so much tastier and like the drinks next to it. I also like the dark background as the emphasis is not on what is in the background which is what the left is showing me. There is also a glare in the [smartphone] pic on the left that makes the photo look less professional.

Whether it was the lighting or the libations, it’s clear that people were pulled to the professional photo because the scene was set for them to have a fun and filling time! The smartphone photo, on the other hand …

“I couldn’t really tell much about the [smartphone] pic that would make it appealing to order.”

Professional Photographers See It All

When it comes to the value of hiring professional photographers, what you gain is a clear, expertly-crafted, purpose-driven imagery that generates interest and profit. Sticking to smartphones will only take you so far watching competitors with more compelling content soar by your business with their success.

So what are you waiting for? Start investing in your company’s growth by setting up a consultation with us to discuss your upcoming campaign or collateral needs: https://kellyannphotos.com/contact-kelly-ann/