How much is great imagery worth?

in Musings

A couple of months ago Andy Hockridge of Imagemaker Studios took a new set of profile photos for me. I got great feedback about the photos and what they said about me and my business and it reminded me how powerful good imagery is. (Much as it pains me to admit it, sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words.) So I asked Andy if he would like to write a blog on the importance of good photography. Here’s what he had to say… 

When we think of value we usually think of cost…how much? Increasingly these days businesses and marketing professionals miss the value of great photography, thinking only of the cost and not the benefits. Also, with the proliferation of image libraries and digital photography providing ever increasing millions of images we do seem to think of photography as ‘cheap’ these days.

Usually when a business begins to think of images to help them promote themselves they often turn to the image library industry. After costing out 10 – 15 stunning photos the realisation dawns that they can’t afford it. This is because at this stage the business is paying two people for the privilege of using these pictures: the photographer gets (if they are lucky) 50% and the library takes the rest. And,  if you’re using a licensed image, you may only be able to use the image for a set period of time, a set print run and only in certain territories. Most people go for royalty free pictures because there are no restrictions, however they can be more expensive in the short term asthe business soon realises that:

  • Ÿthe pictures they want are being used all over the globe by their competitors
  • Ÿthe cost was far more than they expected or budgeted for
  • Ÿthe images are not really suitable for their individuality.

At this point a business may start looking for a photographer. Don’t get me wrong here, some businesses start this way and get it right, but the majority struggle. This is because they don’t fully understand the process, the value of individual imagery and how it can benefit their business.

I have hinted at it already…benefits. The benefits are numerous, the downside, there are none. How can having bespoke, tailor made, custom imagery of your business not be beneficial?

By choosing the right photographer and explaining your issues properly, a portfolio of images can be created that speaks volumes about your business and its individuality. However choosing the right photographer here is paramount, they must understand the power of photography to create messages, they must understand that they are making images not for the client but for the client’s potential clients, the photographer should understand the client and their individuality and have solid ideas about how to effectively use the medium to illustrate these characteristics to the audience.

When we talk about the value of bespoke imagery, this is rather harder to quantify because it means adding a pound sign to the process, not in cost but in profit to the client. How do we measure how much money those pictures have created for the client that they did not have in their account before the work took place? It’s not really possible without very in depth customer research but some companies have done this and have proven the idea. The attached value of great imagery is somewhat enigmatic because photography is only one part of a larger marketing process, a part of the sales jigsaw, unless we ask the customer what swung their buying experience, ie, was it the photos that convinced you to buy?

Great photography should be thought of as part of the marketing and branding mix but regardless of whether it was bought through a library or commissioned on a bespoke level it should reflect the character of the business truthfully. People respect the truth, they admire companies that don’t underestimate them, they buy from companies that are honest. If your photography is honest and truthful your customers will see this and trust your product or service. How much is that worth?


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