photos

By Jenna Cyprus

It’s been said that a picture is worth a thousand words, but some pictures tell a story that goes deeper than words.

When a professional photographer publishes breathtaking shots of nature, remote civilizations, or animals in the wild, those images evoke strong emotions. Even people who have no connection to the subject being photographed, the image says everything – and more that can never be put into words.

If this level of photography is possible, why do so many business owners insist on using free stock photos, or having their friends take their product photos with a smartphone?

Having a smartphone doesn’t make someone a photographer

The camera technology in today’s smartphones gives people the false impression that anyone can be a photographer. The truth is, anyone can take a thousand shots of their dinner, and a few will turn out great. However, a professional photographer can take just three shots, all of which will be better than the best shots taken accidentally.

The reason photos taken by a professional will always be better than ‘accidental masterpieces’ is because the photographer’s intent and experience is what captures the scene. Everything from the angle to the lighting is crafted intentionally.

Stock photos aren’t the answer, either. Most stock photo websites license the works of amateur photographers with decent skills. However, many of the photos are taken without intent, which makes it difficult to find images that accurately convey a specific message.

Stock photos aren’t designed to add value to your website

If a photo has the potential to deeply move an audience, there’s no reason to settle for a photo that doesn’t do exactly that. There isn’t a single person on the planet who would claim to have been deeply touched, moved, or inspired by a generic stock photo.

Stock photos aren’t designed to move people emotionally; they’re designed to grab the consumer’s attention just long enough to be purchased. In other words, stock photos exist to make the photographer money, not to support your website.

One industry filled with examples of poor photos is the real estate market. Some sellers post photos to property listing websites that make Craigslist ads look good. Take these bad photos for example. With photos of bare corners, fisheye lenses, clutter, and reflections that distort the whole image, it’s a mystery that any of these homes sold.

On the other hand, listings like these provide between 20-30 high quality photos of each property. The benefit? Visitors can browse through listings and view multiple angles of the property before contacting an agent. In this case, high quality photos save both the prospect and the real estate agent time.

Professional photos will add value to your business

If you want kind of imagery that moves people toward purchasing your products or services, you need to hire a professional photographer.

As explained by Noel Bass, photographers take their job seriously. They invest in the right equipment to take the best quality photos, even in dark environments. It’s a mistake to hire a friend to take photos for your business.

“Just because you can make an online business from home, that doesn’t mean it should look like it,” says Bass. “Everyone’s business model should include at least one professional photoshoot in their expenses. Too many small businesses forget to do this and end up trying to hire a photographer with the change in their pockets, when their profits aren’t where they hoped they’d be.”

It’s understandable when a business doesn’t allocate funds for photography; they don’t always realize how important it is. If you don’t have a photography budget, and aren’t sure how to create one, the best thing you can do is change the way you view money. If you’ve been able to create a budget for other business assets, you can create a budget for photography; you just have to convince yourself it’s necessary.

Change your mindset regarding money

Rather than seeing money as something you need to hang onto or begrudgingly let go of, think of money as a resource available to trade for anything you want.

By shifting your perspective of money, you allow yourself to value other people’s skills and time. You’ll no longer see professional photography as something you can do yourself. When this shift happens, you’ll be able to create a budget for anything.

Jenna Cyprus is a freelance writer from Renton, WA who is particularly interested in travel, nature, and parenting. Follow her on Twitter.