Pat O’Connor takes over the blog this week as our guest contributor to talk about why custom photography can’t be beat when it comes to website design.
Custom photography is expensive; stock photography is (relatively) cheap. So why do we almost always recommend that our clients work with one of our trusted photography partners? Because, in the words of our guest blogger and longtime Jackrabbit collaborator Pat O’Connor, “genuine photography allows you to be genuine.”
Introducing Pat O’Connor!
Pat has worked as a photographer for more than twenty years. Jackrabbit has been lucky enough to collaborate with Pat on many, many projects, and we rely on his talent, experience, and creativity to bring both personality and professionalism to our clients’ websites. We trust Pat to turn out amazing photography for our clients, always with an eye towards a website’s needs and Jackrabbit’s designs.
When we recommend that a client work with Pat, the first thing he does is take a look at their website. The quality, type, and selection of photos speak volumes about the level of professionalism and individuality within the company, and Pat uses this as a barometer for where they are on their creative journey. “The web is a wash of companies pretending to be something they’re not, based on stock photography,” says Pat. “You see the same tried-and-true stock images, again and again.” According to Pat, and, in a more abstract sense, to your clients, a smattering of industry-standard stock photos across a website doesn’t tell anyone anything. And that’s where custom photography comes into play.
What is custom photography?
Custom photography involves scheduling a session with someone like Pat, who will come to your office (or other location, depending on the needs of the website and type of personality you’re hoping to portray) and shoot candids, headshots, scenery – whatever best captures the essence of your company. Whereas stock photos will give you an estimation of who you want to be in your industry, custom photography gets to the heart of your office, organization, chapter – whoever you are or want to be, custom photography gives you the ability to shape a persona and, by extension, your brand, in whichever way best suits you.
In addition, when we partner with Pat during or after design, he is able to tailor his shots to fit the size and scope of design. For instance, if we know that our design calls for five rotating banners that span the full width of the page, Pat can get the requisite shots and ensure that there are several taken with a horizontal orientation. Similarly, if we know that we’ll have several sidebars highlighting, for instance, the recreational and lifestyle benefits of living in a particular retirement home, Pat can take a large number of photos like this:
Why we love custom photography
When we begin designing a website, we often ask that the client give us a solid understanding of their content, including imagery. If we notice that a client’s image library isn’t as in-depth or high-quality as we need to supplement the designs we create, we often recommend that they let us reach out to Pat. We then work with him to understand the subject matter, curate shot lists, and provide art direction as necessary. Pat is, above all, a Jackrabbit collaborator, and works with us to understand and shape the design of a site from a photographic standpoint. After Pat completes a session with a client, we, as designers, are better able to create sites that truly speak to the personality of the company.
Okay, sounds great. What do I get out of it?
In short, as Pat says, custom photography gives you the opportunity to tailor your first impression and effectively illustrate what you want your customers to see. In addition, you’re given a vast wealth of options to choose from. The latter benefit is a particular boon to those of us on the web design side, as we’re given a seemingly-infinite array of choices to aid in our effort to visually present all the wonderful things that give your office its personality.
Custom photography also gives you a sharply-focused and high-quality marketing tool, effective regardless of the kind of market you’re in. Some examples here:
By showing your company’s authenticity, you are giving your customers or clients a sense of validity and credibility that is endlessly valuable in establishing a strong relationship.
Show your people
iPhones take great photos these days. So does ye olde digital camera. But nothing can shine a light on your employees and bolster the level of professionalism in your company like a fantastic headshot. Take a look at the two examples below; the quality is crisp and clean, and the subjects look like themselves (and not like they’re posing for a photobooth or taking a selfie in poor lighting). Want to showcase the vibrance of your office? Advertising an engaging office culture to prospective job applicants? Looking to add a little bit of whimsy or quirk? A custom-photographed headshot can infuse all of that personality while still ensuring that the image is professional and cohesive with the look of the rest of the site.
The above-mentioned abundance of photography is also beneficial in the long run. Imagine that your sparkling, brand new site has begun to feel a little tired after a year or two. The great news is that you can keep all the equity and cleanliness of the site, and by simply updating the photos from your library of custom photography you get a look that is fresh and renewed without the additional cost of a whole new design!
Long story short? The overall benefit is twofold, with a million little upsides built in: you give yourself a vast number of options, and you are able to identify, tailor, and express exactly who you are to your audience.
Thanks to Pat for the wise words and insight! Be sure to check out his website.