Your business is all about you
Not in an egotistical way, but any SME business owner knows that they are the “face” of their company. It’s unavoidable really – we create:-
- the business idea,
- the hard graft to get it going,
- the risks you take,
- the people you meet
These things are all down to you
So on their websites and print and social media, why do so many hide their “true” face away – when they could say so much with a great photo that shows them as they really are?
When I say “hiding”, it could be that they do have a photo, maybe even a professionally taken photo, but it’s not really doing them any favours.
Many are stuffy, awkward, uncomfortable, slightly scary and have the same appeal as a pass-port photo, whereas the “real person” may be warm, welcoming and great fun to be around.
This portrait of me is an award winning selfie I took in 2007 – I won a canvas print of it, have it on my wall to scare off burglars!
So when we’re looking at their “About us” or “Our Team” page, we see these scary photos and think seriously about whether we want to talk to them… maybe check the next company on your Google Search and see if they are any friendlier!
Would you call me if you thought this is how I really was?
That’s what happens – that’s the damage a bad photo can have on potential new clients.
The Real You…
Well I use this shot instead – I obviously prefer the dark, moody shot above, but this one’s more like the guy who turns up with camera and lights. I love the lighting on it, the brick texture in the background (on Dock St. in Leeds) is pretty cool but I hope it tells potential clients that there’s an element of fun working with me – which is very important, as that’s exactly how I work.
You may actually be that stern, slightly scary person in your photo – and it may well work for you, it depends on your business and personality.
The chances are, in my experience of photographing many business owners, that you are nothing like this “old-fashioned-business-man” personality, but for whatever reason your photo just doesn’t do it justice.
It could be any of these reasons…
- not enough time on the shoot – you just weren’t comfortable
- constantly distracted – happens if you shoot at your desk, people call, barge in… you never get settled
- didn’t really like the photographer – perish the thought, but they may not have been the best “people person” and wound you up
- no story or context – shooting on location can add a lot to your shots, tells the viewer more about what you do
- poor photography skills – could be one of a thousand things, but it just doesn’t work as an image…
- the most popular – you hate having your photo taken, and it shows!!!
BiY Members We’ve Helped…
So how to get around these obstacles… ?
Well here are a few of the BiY Associates we’ve helped in 2013 – have a look at the video, it’s 3 minutes long and has music played by the Chicago Blues Brothers, so check your volume first![tube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vV1ied_hju4&list=UUNt-MdklYRJZerUfAtuX10A&feature=share[/tube]
Prep for the shoot…
Each of these shoots were different – but have the same roots where we’d chat about:-
- what business they were in – what made them different to everyone else, their niche if you like.
- what their strap line or USP was – Paul’s the “ideas man”, Claire “keeps you out of jail” etc.
- where to do the shoot – Gayle does “secret shopping”, so why not use a shopping area like Leeds’ Victoria Quarter
- anything business-specific photos they are after – e.g. shots of them presenting, or meeting clients
- the “look” they are after – usually suggesting something formal to wear, something less formal… maybe just a few different scarves or ties to add variety.
How effective shoots work…
So after we’ve come up with the location, look and general theme – it’s shoot time… and no one is a natural at this straight way… well except Claire Turner… and Louise Turner… must be the surname!
So here’s how to prepare…
- Book enough time – we’re only talking a couple of hours, or maybe 1 if you’re really busy.
- Don’t have a hugely busy day ahead occupying your mind – if your mind is elsewhere, it shows in the photos
- Turn the phone off… if you can… great photography is all about “raport” and a call can break that in an instant.
- Get a photographer who’s work you like – ask for recommendations, then check out their portfolios. Recommendations will filter out any “duds”, and portfolios will show you their skills
- Ideas – if you’ve seen a shot you like, send a link to the photograph! We’re a creative breed, and love to share and develop your ideas!
- Use a variety of locations – be prepared to move and change, it totally transforms the dynamics of the shoot and you get lots to choose from. A walk of 10 feet may be all that’s needed…
- Chat a lot – about anything… preferably things what evoke nice thoughts, as that will reflect in your expression.
All that said, the “look” is down to how the photographer lights, shoots and processes the photo – and the “feel” is down to what he/she says to you!
Firstly, hopefully you’ll enjoy the experience, despite your initial misgivings.
Then you’ll go away with :-
- your own personal library of great photos
- new shots to update Linked In, Facebook and Twitter with
- pride of place on your website – remember, it’s all about you after all so show your face and make people WANT TO PHONE you
- more people clicking on your linked in profile – great shots get more clicks
- great shots to send to the press when they write articles on you
- increased “perception” online – poor shots damage, great shots enhance.
- your personality captured and seen by everyone
- a visual story – if you’ve use locations and props cleverly, you can say so much in a photo
To finish – here’s a collection of photos of people just like you, business owners and directors, who all said “I hate having my photo taken” and felt unconfortable at first, but by the end of the shoot actually said they enjoyed it – and now use the photos to promote their business.