Having worked as a corporate portrait photographer since the early 1990s I have gained plenty of experience from shooting commissions and also marketing and promoting my services. I recently asked for my new corporate photographers London website to be reviewed on a business forum and received some interesting feedback. On the whole the advice was positive and I took these comments on board. One comment lead me to think about my services in a new way for the first time in over 25 years.
The comment was simply ‘what will the client get from commissioning you’? At first I thought that would be fairly obvious from the website that was full of sample portraits I had spent ages selecting as my best work and sure that anyone in business would simply fall over themselves to commission and use for their marketing. Thinking about it again, I realised that my potential clients needed more information and direction as to the processes in capturing their portraits and to their end uses.
My experience had allowed me to know how to get the best result in the quickest time from any commission but unless I can convey that to potential clients who are totally unaware of my experience then how much work could I be missing out on. The more I thought about this the more samples came to mind on several questions that kept recurring when I was talking to clients about future commissions. The most common was ‘We can’t do the shoot here as our offices are a mess’. When clients say this I quickly reassure them with samples of offices we have shot in and made them look great by being selective in what we get in shot and by blurring backgrounds so that office shapes are all you can see in the portrait photos. But this left me thinking if past potential clients had not raised this question with me, how many commissions have I missed out on?
Another query which often comes up is ‘Do you offer make-up services’? And as before I explain that this is an expensive extra and we can retouch in post production to a very high standard included in the cost of the shoot.
These simple and repeated queries are swiftly dealt with but it makes so much more sense to have the as part of my marketing and clear to see on my website. It could be said that the site might become to wordy and nobody likes to wade through lists of information especially on the internet but that is where good website design plays a major factor in getting your services across in a way that is simple on the surface but all the information is easily to hand if a client wants to find it.
The more I looked into these factors the more sense it makes. lets face it most people do not like having their photo taken. In fact I would go further and say 90% of my clients say that they need to get it done but would rather be doing anything else. So we have a client in a position where they need to get their headshot taken normally for business marketing. They don’t know the processes involved and I now understand that it is better to hold their hand with practical guidance rather than to bombard them with a portfolio of our wonderful headshots!
This leaves me in the position of having to redesign our corporate photographers website to accommodate these findings.
We supply the full range of corporate photography services but on the whole most of our work is corporate headshots. Our clients range from individuals who may want a professional LinkedIn headshot to large corporate companies that might want thousands of staff photographed in office locations all over the world. Within this service we offer a selection of five different styles of headshots.
1. Business social media profile photos. These are mainly for LinkedIn and when clients first approach us it is normally with a vague enquiry that they need to get one done, but they have not really given it much thought past the point of what it will cost. I would normally give them a price and send them a link to our corporate headshots page which has a range of different styles. What is interesting here is that they will agree to the cost but not give me any feedback on which of the styles they prefer. I can see now that this is a area where my attending to their needs and explaining the benefits of what we offer is being lost and it is an area I need to address.
2. London location headshots. This is service we introduced about 3 years ago and was aimed at clients who wanted to show they worked in London and we would subtly feature elements/views of London in the background. These have become popular with individuals who might not have office in The City but often work in London as consultants. We have also seen interest from overseas business people who want to show they also work in the UK financial sectors. The interesting factor with these is that we have had clients who have large numbers of staff and they have requested this service. This is not always ideal as it can mean the client has to arrange the logistics of getting all their people out of the office and this can be impractical.
3. Photoshopped London background headshots were offered this year to get around the problem that faced large offices of people who wanted the London backdrop. It also meant the client could choice the from our range of backgrounds and the headshots would be shot in their offices against a plain wall and we would photoshop in the London views in post production. This process is visible on the site but needs to be better in the way we expalin to potential businesses the benefits of the service.
4. Studio headshots. These we offer if the client wants the ‘studio’ effect with and the benefits of controlled lighting. Many of our clients assume that to get a professional photographers headshot it must be taken in a studio. This really is not the case and we often advise against this style as it is not contemporary in our eyes as we prefer to capture a flattering headshot in a real business environment. Here again I need to explain the benefits of us attending the clients offices with our pro lighting set up. It is less time consuming for the client as we can set up in a empty office and the sitter only has to attend the shoot for approx 10 -15 mins and incurs the same charges as they would if they were to take a couple of hours out of their busy day to attend our studio.
5. Reportage or natural headshots. These are proving to be very popular with start-up companies and clients who like to show an open door to potential business. We have a formula that works very well and allows us to capture very natural and also known as ‘action’ shots of business people going about their day to day work. This looks simple but is in fact time consuming as the photographer is waiting for the natural moments to happen and not able to control the session as easily as posed headshots. Again this is a process I need to explain to clients as it is often assumed these take a couple of minutes to capture and that they have been staged.
This leads to me to the redesign of our current corporate photographers London website. I need to site to showcase our portfolio and I need to be able to get all of the above points as well a pricing, our team of photographers, my role in the company, how commissioned shoots proceed and complete.
Let me start with the team of photographers. There are eight in total and all have the ‘in house’ style for shooting our headshots and corporate events. In the past I have had a page for the photographers with sample portfolios for each photographer. This did not work as at no point did a client request any particular photographer. I feel now that clients coming to our site do not have the time to go over eight portfolios and therefore this has to be changed to showing that we have a great team with strength in numbers and able to cover all commissions on any dates, but also not swamp the client with portfolios of individual photographers.
Pricing is a difficult area as 90% of our competition do not show their rates on their website. Currently we do not display our fees but we need to give the client an idea of pricing structures, how we charge our time, what is included in the quote and what extra expenses will or maybe charged. Then there is post production rates which need to be explained as often clients will not be aware of what can be done and how much it will cost.
Although I still undertake corporate photography commissions my role is now more handling quotes, assigning photographers to jobs and handling post production and invoicing.
This is a simple process of a single commission.
Pre shoot procedure.
Please wear something you are comfortable in and avoid wearing white shirts if you are not going to be wearing a jacket as they appear too bright in the final images and can look washed out.
Please advise us if you have a certain style or background you require for your headshot and if it has a particular usage. Unless otherwise directed we will replicate the style found on our website.
It takes 10 mins to set up equipment and normally 15-20 mins per person for a portfolio of approx 20 images. Within these 20 photographs we will do a variety of poses and expressions so you have a good choice to select from.
Post shoot procedure.
We will email you a full portfolio of preview images with our invoice. Once the invoice is paid we will email a high res image download link.
After you have made a selection of 2 images from the high res please email the original file numbers to us and we will standard retouch the images and return them.
I am currently looking and working with website designers to restructure our current site and interested in talking to any web designers who have ideas and processes that could assist me with my new aims. Past experience with working on photographers sites is not important but an understanding of my aims and creative input to some of the areas I need to address is required.
Please see our client reviews on our corporate photographer London page.