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“I have a buddy who’s a pretty good photographer…”

There are a few things you don’t want to hear when working you’re with clients on a new website. But few can have a bigger impact on the end result than going cheap on photography. Without a doubt, professional photography can be expensive but the results are almost always (I’ll come back to that thought in a minute) worth it.

A professional photographer brings many things to a shoot that you simply can’t get from your buddy / cousin / neighbour etc. Of course they have better equipment and lighting. They also have years of experience with the nuances of setting up a great shot. They understand that the photos will be used online and structure shots to maximize impact. They’ll collaborate with your web and graphic designers so that the shots work well in context, suit the brand look and feel, and fit into the layout of your site. And, very importantly, they know how to communicate with the subject and put them at ease, which makes a huge difference to the end result.

Getting great shots of your team is increasingly important for professional service firm websites and can provide clear differentiation from the endless shots of lawyers and accountants re-enacting their high school graduation photo. These professionals are your stars – the people firms should be doing everything they can to promote. Great photos can do that. A recent article entitled “The Humble Law Firm Website Is Going Way, Way Upscale” in the American Lawyer says:

“Firms are hiring marketing and image consultants and top-caliber professional photographers to make sure their websites and lawyers stand out from one another when prospective clients go online, or search on LinkedIn for legal services, which is how many corporate counsel and others scout out legal help now.”

Now, back to that comment about the investment in a professional photographer “almost” always being worth it. You may hire the best photographer in town but they still need to work to a brief in order to deliver. Your brief should be written in conjunction with the web designer and detail the kind of shots you want, what the images should convey and how they are going to be used. It’s also important to share that information with your professionals before their photos are taken so they know what to expect and what to wear.

New websites can be expensive, but trying to reduce the budget by going cheap on the photography will cost you a lot by turning anull potentially great site into something average or worse.

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