All forms of marketing—no matter if it’s a website, social media posts, digital marketing, or old-fashioned printed collaterals like brochures and fact sheets—perform better with visuals.

Today’s smartphones make it easy to take photographs. Just because you can take photos for your marketing efforts does not mean you should. The difference between a photo taken by an amateur versus a professional is palpable.

Because most people don’t know what they don’t know about taking photos for marketing purposes, I spoke with commercial photographer Elaine Kessler. Elaine is the owner of Elaine Kessler Photography and the 2019 Gilbert Chamber Businesswomen of the Year.

CAN YOU TALK ABOUT USING A SMARTPHONE FOR TAKING MARKETING PICTURES?
“Smartphone photos can be brilliant and useful for some online advertising if you know what you are doing. However, the high definition publication possibilities are limited. High-resolution photos taken with a DSLR are far more versatile than photos taken with a smartphone. Should you want to publish a brochure or magazine advertisement, use in a presentation or make it into a billboard, DSLR photos are more customizable in post-production based on your specific needs.”

IS THERE A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PERSONAL PHOTOGRAPHS AND MARKETING PHOTOGRAPHS?
“Yes, personal photographs are designed to elevate love, affinity, and accomplishment. They generally tend more toward the art of documentation versus the art of creation. Marketing photos, on the other hand, are designed to expand reach and profitability. I often say, when shooting marketing photos, that I am helping my clients make (more) money with great images.”

WHAT TYPES OF PHOTOGRAPHS ARE BEST WHEN YOU ARE SELLING A PRODUCT? HOW ABOUT A SERVICE?
“Product photography should be clean, crisp, clear and creative. Sometimes clean, minimal lines is what’s most creative. Photography depicting a service should be carefully composed and styled authentically but deliberately.”

WITH 80 PERCENT OF ALL DECISIONS INFLUENCED BY EMOTIONS, HOW DO YOU CREATE A PHOTO THAT WILL ELICIT A SPECIFIC EMOTION?
“I create a photo to elicit specific emotions through the use of light and perspective. For more approachable, upbeat, and comfortable images, I use bright and airy light, often with a wider angle lens. For more brooding, serious imagery, I use contrasting light incorporating shadows.”

HOW SHOULD SOMEONE SELECT A COMMERCIAL PHOTOGRAPHER?
“All photographers are not created equal and you have a tremendous number to choose from, especially in Arizona. Photography can be extremely intimate — do research into the photographer’s experience and work and be sure your chemistries match. Do not rely solely on recommendations through social media — always do your own research. In this day and age of imagery theft, feel free to request to view an entire gallery from start to finish to prove that the photographer’s work is real. A phone conversation or face-to-face meeting is also helpful to make sure the photographer is skilled socially and can provide guidance to you and your team with ease and confidence. It helps if you align with their visual style before seeking a bid.”

HOW MUCH SHOULD YOU PAY FOR A COMMERCIAL PHOTOGRAPHER?
“Do not base your decision on price. Always look at the photographer’s work first to see if you like it and it meets your needs. Remember, a poor, inexpensive photo that does not bring in much business is of less value than a more expensive photo that brings in lots of business. If you like their work, pursue a budget conversation. A professional photographer is accustomed to negotiation conversations. While good photography may not be cheap – there may be some room to compromise.”