By Simona Ramos
Associate Creative Director
The march of technology has put a camera in everyone’s pocket. We’re OK with that, but an iPhone camera does not make everyone a professional photographer. In fact, a do-it-yourself approach to a major business photo shoot can waste time, effort and valuable resources.
Investing in quality photography can produce professional results in producing a website or promotional materials. Great images speak to your target audience, set you apart from the competition, and tell your story. To make this happen, here are some of the creative secrets that can help you do a great photo shoot:
Get professional help from the start. An experienced, professional photographer brings a number of advantages to the table. First, they have all the quality equipment—cameras, lights, reflectors—and they know how to use them to your best advantage. What’s more, a pro will help with the planning, spot (and avoid) potential problems, and anticipate how to achieve maximum results with the greatest efficiency.
Conceptualize: What is your business mission, and how do you express that concept visually? Translating a concept into a visual expression may be one of the most challenging preparation steps. At this stage, the core idea is not in “what” you do, or even “how” you do it, but it is in identifying the benefits and super benefits that people/patients want you to deliver.
Tell a story: Visual elements communicate quickly and can easily be part of storytelling imagery. What pictures are useful in showing a caring purpose and/or people engaging with people? Is there a beginning-middle-end sequence that communicates a storyline?
Picture the environment: In addition to the head-and-shoulders “people pictures,” images should reveal the building (exterior) as well as the interior and office. Seeing the location and environment reduces the unknown and helps to demystify the patient experience.
Present and future need: Determine how and where the new photos will be used, and cover as many purposes as practical. Are these images for a website, brochure, flyer/newsletter, direct mail or other advertising? Consider the current or immediate needs as well as any anticipated future applications.
Be selective: Plan to take lots of photos, and confirm that they are relevant, attractive, and communicate all of your needs. Hint: Having many photos allows you many choices. It’s better to select one great shot from among a dozen options than to be stuck with only one choice and no options.
When your photo shoot includes people and facilities…
Have a photo release or else no photo. You’ll want doctor/patient pictures, but… Before you or your photographer takes any images, always have a current and signed “model release,” “photo release” or “personal release agreement” in hand. Simple model release forms are available online, but you may want to talk with your legal counsel regarding HIPAA or other regulations.
Plan your office lifestyle shots: Carefully consider how to illustrate employees doing their job. What are the “in action” service photos that reveal the office culture, personality and general environment (without being ordinary or boring)?
Include important equipment. What facilities, technology or products help represent your services or benefits to patients? Are these unique to your practice, location or market? Is this the current, cutting-edge equipment that sets you apart from the competition?
Take a street view photo. Include a picture of the front of your building, the main outdoor sign, and/or a pedestrian-level view from the street. These images can orient a new visitor and are useful to include on a website location page.
Other simple but important tips: Eliminate all visual clutter in the frame. Even a messy desk can be a visual and mental distraction from what’s really important. You want your business to look its best. Shoot casual shots, when appropriate, such as informal company events or activities. Images that are “behind the scenes” can be interesting and good fuel for social media.
When your photo shoot includes people pictures…
Take head-and-shoulders images: Sometimes the best “head shots” come from a slightly wider composition—with a little room for cropping. Consider how profile photos of you and your staff (everyone, really), can come from everyday activities.
Vary the wardrobe: Plan to take many pictures with about two changes of clothing. Ideally, photos should include lab coats as well as suits or professional attire.
Hire a hair and makeup professional. For both men and women, a completely “normal and natural” appearance almost always requires careful preparation. Have your hair and makeup professionally done. Consider a haircut the day before for men or a makeup/hair salon for women.
Smile: A casual, friendly and welcome appearance comes through with a simple, but sincere, smile. This is always appropriate to reduce anxiety, but is especially helpful for medical specialties that may be “scary.”
Observe these simple but important rules: Don’t wear bold prints or patterns. Don’t over accessorize. (These distract with “visual noise.”) We love iPhone cameras, but use them for your vacation snapshots. No Selfies. They never work well and don’t present a professional image.
High-quality images are invaluable marketing tools. Planning and executing a first-class photo shoot can represent you and your practice as professional, credible, welcoming and an appropriate choice for patients.
Please give us a call if you’re planning new marketing materials and new photography. We can work with you for a productive and successful outcome.