5 tips for using good photography in your marketing

For this week’s blog post, I solicited the advice of two star professionals: my sister, model/actress and professional photographer Kim Anderson; and my brother-in-law,  director/cinematographer (and retired Canon exec) Brent Ramsey.

1. Decide what story you’re telling

Fundamental to your marketing and communications planning is understanding what story you are telling. Whether you are marketing a service or raising awareness about your organization, you have story to tell. Great photos can help tell your story with with emotion, passion and creativity.

2. Find or create good photos that illustrate your story

Maybe you have great photos already, or maybe you need some. Either way, there’s no reason to use bad photography in today’s era. You can find good quality stock photography for free, or at a low cost, on sites like Canva, Adobe Stock, or others. Or you can take your own. The best option is to hire a local photographer and make yourself available to direct what types of photos you want/need. The photographer will know how to frame a shot and find the best light, but you know best the subjects and shots you need. If you can’t afford that option, you can take them yourself with a high-resolution camera or phone camera – just be sure to focus and use proper lighting. Fortunately, thee are tons of great articles online to help you learn good amateur photography techniques!

PS – Make sure you get photo releases from the people pictured in your photos. Keep them on file and you can feel confident using them.

3. Focus on what’s important using cropping and emphasis

Going back to the idea of telling a story, be sure to keep your story in mind when composing your shot. If you story is about human impact, focus in on the face of the person whose impact you’re depicting. Or if the setting is important, pull back to show the person in setting. Look for good light – not too bright, not too dark. Again, there are many great articles about this online. If you don’t get a great shot the first time around, you can always crop it down or adjust levels in a photo editing software. Adobe Photoshop Elements is an affordable option; there are also free photo editors that work well.

4. Organize your photos

Take a little time on the front end to organize your photos and name them according to their subject matter. For example, when I worked at Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, I would use file names like “Early Literacy – child and parent at storytime” and the name of the library where it was shot. That way, when I was creating a PowerPoint or writing a blog post about early literacy, or needed a picture from that particular branch, I could easily find the right picture. I then made these available in a shared folder so that colleagues across the system could access them. They loved it!

5. Make them accessible

As I mentioned above, a share folder is a great way to provide access to photos. There are also many great photo sharing sites, such as Picasa or Flickr. When uploading your photos to a web-accessible site, be sure to use meaningful names, tags, alt text and other meta data if you want people to find your photos. Also be attentive to ADA accessibility issues.


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