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What “Non-Professional” Photographs Can Do For Your Site

You don’t need professional formal photographs on your website. You know the type of picture I’m talking about:  the perfectly focused, perfectly lit staged shots that show off the military crease in the pants a model is wearing or depict a manicured office waiting for clients.

That type of professional picture has its place, and a couple of my clients use professional-photographer-created images very effectively.  But, clients on a budget that doesn’t include a photo session don’t need to worry that their site is going to suffer.

Photographs on your web pages should be engaging and tell a story.  That doesn’t mean that they have to be picture perfect.  Use the tricks of professional marketers and emphasize pretty women, cute kids, and adorable puppies if you want to amp up the effectiveness of your informal photos.

One of Sequel's Cow Palace fans

One of Sequel's People

For example, I love this picture taken of one our dog Sequel’s fans at this year at the Cow Palace show. The focus isn’t sharp and there’s too much going on the background.  But, I’d use it in a heartbeat to help tell the story of the crowd-pleasing day at a  dog show. (See more pics in Sequel’s People gallery online.)

San Francisco pro photographer, John Ater, has a two-sided business card.  One side displays a studio shot he spent all day perfecting for a major retailer’s billboard campaign.  The other side is an iPhone picture of people on a bus.  The home page of his website displays an informal shot of kids on the street.  His point is that many types of photographs can be compelling and technical perfection is rarely required.

Mark Rogers is a professional photographer who specializes in non-posed shots.  His forte is pets, but he shoots for businesses and even weddings.  It’s just that when Mark hires on as the wedding photographer, he’s clear that his love is for informal action shots and there are only so many staged “mother-in-law of the bride” wedding party photos he can handle.  He does great work capturing the personality of his subjects and feel of an event.

And, a feel for your business is exactly what you want to show on your web pages.

The best professional photographers — the ones whose work I like best — tell a visual story.  Their equipment, experience, and artistic skill give them an advantage, but the magic is in capturing of the moment, the composition of the scene.

So, take out your point-and-shoot camera or phone, and see what you can do for your website. Perhaps pictures you already have can work for your business!  (My favorite client photographer is estate planning attorney Julia Wald.  Every month she uses her vacation or around town shots for her newsletter.  Check out how she tied the idea of leaving a legacy through estate planning to her trip to Egypt and the legacy of the pyramids — lots of her clients write in with praise!)

Sure, if you’re busy or don’t have a feel for appropriate shots,  you can engage a professional photographer or even your webmaster to take some pictures for you.  But, you need to explain to them the story you want to tell. Talk about out what views, places, or events will tell your business’ story.  Experiment.  Have fun.  And, let me know what happens!

By |2012-04-24T07:23:38-07:00March 25th, 2012|Tips and Resources|0 Comments

A Shout Out for a Year-End Photography Workshop Deal

Photographer John Ater

Photographer John Ater

Earlier this month I had an awful lot of fun being educated in the basics of taking pictures by professional San Francisco photographer John Ater. I had bought a Groupon for a three-hour workshop which was limited to 10 people, and right before its expiration I signed up for a Saturday Chinatown group shoot.

Ten of us showed up at Portsmouth Square for a talk, a walk, and shutter-snapping practice.  The workshop was set up to let us experience looking at the streets with the eyes of a photographer. The day was a satisfying mixture of professorial tips, individual hints, and photographic assignments… all strung together in a very informal, non-stop four-hours that covered about four blocks of territory.

John doesn’t teach how to use your camera and its features.   In fact, nearly all the class shots were taken on the cameras’ automatic settings.  Rather, John leads you to explore framing what you see, leaving spaces, and looking up and down and all around.

Most of the students showed up with digital SLRs, but John is no equipment snob.  One of his first commentaries is about his two-sided business card.  One side features a model in a department store photo shoot.  The other is an iPhone-snapped gritty city picture of people on a bus.  (Guess which one I felt was more compelling.)

John advertises the workshop as a three-hour experience.  Ours lasted over four, if you count the 30 minutes or so we gathered in a tea house and swapped photographs and commented on each others work.  That unwinding show-and-tell finale made me want to keep snapping and figuring out how to play with the images I saw.

John is offering a better-than-Groupon deal if you purchase a workshop directly from him before December 31st.  You can buy an unlimited number of workshops for just $60 each.  My Groupon was a half-price $75 and the experience would be worth the full rate of $150. I think this direct deal is a good buy.  I am happy to report that I received a certificate for another workshop as a Christmas gift!

So, if your shopping for yourself, your professional life, or for a friend, I recommend John’s photography workshop deal.

By |2011-12-27T17:04:08-08:00December 27th, 2011|Tips and Resources|0 Comments

Photoshop Done So Well, It Needs a Disclaimer

Roger Arvid Anderson photographic show as envisioned by David Wilson

One of my clients, the sculptor, photographer, and artist Roger Arvid Anderson, had a fun reason to add text to his website recently.

Visitors to his site who were reading a proposal for a Star Spangled photo exhibition were contacting him saying that they liked the photos of his show.

The mock-ups that seemed to show visitors strolling through galleries of Roger’s photographs were being mistaken for actual photos.  So, Roger asked me to add a disclaimer under the first of these Photoshopped pictures to say that the images were digitally manipulated.  Check out all the photos yourself!

Nice to have to such quality work on his site that we needed words to tell people that what their eyes were seeing wasn’t real.

Roger is an art photographer who still uses black and white film. He relied on photographer David Wilson to digitally create  such a realistic gallery.  I have worked with David for a couple of clients, and always appreciate his clear, interesting images. I recommend him whenever you need a professional to capture (or create!) a perfect image.

By |2010-11-21T16:06:36-08:00July 28th, 2009|Sample Clients|2 Comments