Work it Like You Mean It - or - Why Custom Photography is Worth the Price

Imagery is an aspect of web and print design often underestimated by business owners. In our DIY world where everyone carries a camera in their pocket, there's always the temptation to make do with self-shot photography or cheap stock images.

But here's how I see it: all my clients take their work very seriously. The chef would never "make do" with second rate ingredients. The proprietor would never "make do" with cheap linens. They put their hearts in what they do. Their standards are high. So it's a disconnect for their audience if they choose to "make do" with poorly lit cell phone images or generic stock imagery. It sends the wrong message. If you aren't serious about your users' web experience, how will they know you're serious about your services?

I know, it's not cheap to hire a photographer. Fortunately I can help identify which services are worth paying for (custom photography, of course!) and which aren't (think overpriced web hosting or SEO snake oil), so clients can get the most mileage out of their budget. 

Done right, custom photography is the perfect blend of accuracy and idealism. Accuracy sets the right expectations. For a hospitality client, a beautifully shot photo of the actual staff at the actual check in desk will represent them much better than a stock image showing a smiling model in an unspecific environment meant to express a vague notion of welcome.

When I say your custom images should be idealistic, I mean they should present what you offer in its best possible light. Taking the hospitality client again as an example, the photographer's understanding of lenses, filters, and other nuances of their craft will show a hotel room as beautifully lit, elegantly appointed, and spacious. No matter how gorgeous the actual room is, you'll struggle to achieve the same effect in a cell phone picture.

If you still need convincing, think of it this way: you want to appeal to both the head and heart of your web visitor (or brochure reader, or postcard recipient, etc.). Clear, concise copy with relevant information satisfies the head. But studies show our emotional reactions are stronger and faster than our intellectual ones, and photography more than any other element will set the emotional tone of your site. Have you ever opened a travel magazine to a spread depicting some paradisiac landscape and wanted to crawl right in? Those photos captured your heart. Custom photography for your website can spark the same yearning in your users, connecting with a deeper need and inspiring them to take action so they can be part of your story.


Torrey Douglass