How to [Cheaply] Get Photography for Your Brand
Having beautiful photos for your Instagram marketing strategy and website are no longer “nice” to have, they’re necessary. Often though, businesses and universities think hiring an expensive professional photographer is the only way to get these images. While this is an option that often works well for brands, spending big bucks isn’t necessary for curating visually compelling and “like-inducing” images.
Before diving in, set aside time to thoughtfully envision what images would best represent your brand. Consider the colors that should be included and the feelings you want to evoke from your images. Plan out the products, background, and settings you want to include in advance. Don’t forget models if your images include people — at least some of them should.
Once you have a direction for your images, it’s time to figure out how you will inexpensively obtain your photos. You have multiple options:
Let’s start with one of the most inexpensive ways to get photos: doing it yourself. Be warned: this option requires a lot of work and time on your end. Taking professional photos for your brand requires materials and tools, some trial and error, and persistence. But, with a little work, you can gain a new skill and have the flexibility of taking new photos with each new product, announcement, and season. For more tips, see our sample shot list at the end of this article.
- Photography arsenal: You’ll need a DSLR or a smartphone with a camera that lets you adjust shutter speed, depth of field, and ISO. If you’re photographing products, get started with this blog. Save money on lighting and flash tools by making items on this DIY list.
- Editing: To edit your photos, try Fotor. This software is free and includes the option to edit photos on your smartphone, through their app, or on your computer, via their desktop option. Using software that is available on both allows you to get comfortable with editing on one platform and gives you the ability to edit images that you capture on both your phone and DSLR.
If you’re nervous about where to start, begin by getting comfortable behind the camera and developing your photography style through creative exercises. This list of photography tutorials is helpful as well.
Hire a Photographer
Maybe taking the photos yourself is daunting or you don’t have the time. Many photographers that are just starting out offer introductory pricing and if you’re near a university or college, you can source a photographer from their talent pool, making the service surprisingly affordable.
- Finding a Photographer: This blog is helpful if you don’t know how to find a photographer. The best way to get the contact information for student photographers is to start by contacting a photography professor at the local university.
- Interviewing Candidates: For every photographer you consider, you should do your due diligence and interview them. Check out this list of questions you need to ask. Also consider how professional their communication is and if you think they understand your brand when making your selection.
Before we move onto the next option, it’s important to note a common misconception on hiring a photographer. While some photographers also do videography, if you’re in need of a polished video you should be contacting a videographer instead.
If you need professional photos yesterday, consider stock photos. Keep in mind you — obviously — won’t get personalized photos for your brand with this option and you’ll need to be flexible. While Shutterstock is our go-to source for buying photos, there are — thankfully — multiple options for free stock photos. Read our “Best Of” blog on sourcing stock photography to find websites and best practices. My personal go-to is Unsplash.
Also, please be picky. Stock photos can be almost comically staged and those type of photos won’t be helpful for your brand.
If you have a loyal brand following or a brick and mortar location, there’s a good chance your customers are already crafting photography for your business through Instagram. This type of content is called user-generated content (UGC). UGC is beneficial for brands for a couple reasons. 1. Consumers prefer it, as it seems more trustworthy and reliable to hear about an experience from a fellow consumer as opposed to a company and 2. You don’t have to take the photo or pay for it.
Incentivizing Users to Make Content: Make sure you have a go-to and unique hashtag for users to tag your photos. Offer small giveaways consistently for a steady influx of timely user-generated photos. For example, local coffee shop Peixoto Coffee in Chandler has a weekly round-up of a few UG photos on their Instagram. They give a free 8 oz. drink to the photographers of the images that are featured. Users tag their photos through their geotag or using #peixotoinpics.
This guide is helpful if you’re still having a hard time determining where to start on UGC as well as informing you of proper legal practices.
Sample Shot List and Photography Angles (Education Theme)
1. Students collaborating with each other and professors
- Naturally pointing and/or viewing a computer screen
- Reviewing paperwork
- Typing on laptop
- Actively taking notes (next to laptop)
- Actively taking notes (lecture)
2. Use of technology on campus
- Student using a laptop viewing the school website
- Laptop with school site – hands on keyboard (face not in frame)
- Studying/collaborating in library, campus coffee shop, etc.
3. Photos of students dressed professionally
- Presenting to a class and/or in a meeting
- Shaking hands
- Meeting / conversing
4. Students walking upstairs (from overhead and from foot level)
5. Students being mentored by a professor
- Small group / one-on-one
- Classroom / lecture setting
6. Buildings from more severe angles (looking up at a taller structure, for instance)
7. Silhouettes of students walking hallways or in classroom
8. Photos of recognizable campus spots (2-4 locations)
Regardless of if you’re trying to revamp your Instagram marketing strategy, update the images on your website, or have something to share on your social channels, you need to consider your brand’s visuals. If you decide to ultimately leave the visuals to the professionals, please consider Lucid Agency. Our agency offers professional photography as one of our services. Contact us and our team of professional digital marketers will tailor and implement a thoughtful content plan for your business.