Why I do what I do

It’s January and the beginning of the new working year. I’m not good at resolutions – why commit to something only in January when you should really be doing it all year round?

However, even though I don’t believe in new year resolutions, this year I’ve vowed to do one thing a little differently. In my business, at least, anyway.

I know what I do and the single most important reason why I do it but I have never really ‘put it out there’, nor have I ever specified to my clients why I truly want to help them in their businesses.

I’m a freelance corporate commercial photographer and I service other businesses to make them look good. But why do I want them to look good? Why should I care what they look like anyway? If they hire me and pay me, that’s a job well done, right?

Wrong! This type of attitude means I don’t care about my work, my clients nor their businesses. I don’t nurture them.

My goal to achieve the right results for each client is driven from the desire to see everyone look the best they can in their respective competitive markets. It will be their point of difference and hence, what makes them stand out and be chosen over another business who doesn’t look as great.

I am so over seeing mug-shot-style or selfie profile photos of highly skilled and knowledgeable professionals which don’t reflect the value they’re worth. I am so over seeing poor quality, badly lit and unflattering product photos on e-commerce websites and print marketing material which look like they’ve been taken by a toddler with a Polaroid.

I want to see businesses look GOOD. It’s the reason my profession exists at all!

I advise my clients on personal presentation targeted to attract their audience. I use suitable posing to enhance or disguise features and I employ clear and definite professional lighting techniques to produce glossy, professional photographs to highlight the subject. If the brief gets creative, then that’s when I really come alive.

I love to see businesses flourish and their perceived value increased. I love contributing to their brand and seeing the results the improvements generate. This means my clients’ businesses are evolving and growing and it’s a great satisfaction knowing that I had a part in that.

So, if you made a resolution this year to improve your business, start by improving the quality of your photos. Create a better impression by making yourself, your people, and your products look good. I want you to look good! Your presentation will determine your value and establish the human element behind your business. After all, people don’t deal with businesses, people deal with people.

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“What should I wear for my Corporate Portrait?”

This is one of the more common questions I get asked when a client books a corporate portrait session.

The answer varies but a few important rules don’t. Assuming that you don’t wear a uniform in your business, in which case, there’s your answer, you have to ask yourself two main questions: “Who’s my market and what’s my message to them?”

A profile image gives you the opportunity to connect with your market on several levels and in your photo, a good idea is to mirror your clients and prospects. What do they wear? How do they present themselves?

The philosophy is that we want to see ourselves in the people we do business with. So if you want to communicate with the high end CEO, a well tailored suit, a tie for the gentlemen, a simple neckline and understated jewellery for the ladies, will propel you straight to their office door.

If your business caters for the building sector, for example, the whole corporate attire may be unnecessary but a casual business look would be more appropriate. The gentlemen can loose the tie and the ladies can tone down the suit but one important principle still remains even here: you have to come across as professional.

A few important points to always keep in mind, regardless of what you wear in your photograph, your clothing has to be neat, without creases, it must fit well and be suitable to your body shape and you must feel comfortable in it. Remember that your outfit will also reflect your personality. I can’t stress enough the importance of liking what you wear, otherwise, uncertainty may come across in your photo.

Now, the last and most important thing to ALWAYS wear in your corporate portrait is a sincere SMILE. A good photographer can coax it out of you and will be able to show you and compare different expressions in your photos to choose the best one to suit the final use of your image.

But that’s for another post.

For professional corporate styling, consult a specialised stylist who can advise on what colours best match your skin tone and what styles suit your corporate image: http://mycolourmystyle.com.au/

 

 

Why your younger self might not be doing you any favours.

As much as we are all attached to that profile photo of our younger selves – a few kilos lighter, smoother skin, more hair – the truth is, clients and prospects expect to see a true (…and current) representation of what we look like from our business profile photo.

People’s appearances slightly change on average every three to five years, so if your online profile photo is older than five years, it’s definitely time for an update.

By maintaining a true representation of yourself through your corporate portrait, you guarantee to start the personal relationship with prospects in honesty. There’s nothing worse than turning up to a meeting expecting to see the ‘Bachelor/ Bachelorette of the Year’, based on the profile photo (okay, that may be a slight exaggeration but you get the drift!) only to find someone not quite matching those Greek god/goddess-like features.

Be true to yourself and most of all, be true to your clients.

What your photo should communicate, is confidence. Why be shy of what you look like now? Feel good about how you look and carry yourself with grace. After all, that’s who your prospect will be dealing with in future so it’s best to instil the trust from the very first meeting.

Why I love shooting people and get away with it!

The greatest satisfaction I get from shooting (okay, photographing) people, is the joyous “Oh my God, that looks great!” response I get from my clients about their corporate photos, almost in disbelief. That’s just when they view them images on the back of the camera, even before they see the finished product!

I know most people hate getting their photo taken and that’s why we see either less than average, or no photos at all on people’s online profiles. Because they feel that they won’t look good in a corporate portrait, many don’t see the value in getting a shot professionally done.

I say, have trust in your professional corporate photographer. Chances are, if they’ve been working in the industry for longer than 15 years, they would have been classically trained in the techniques of posing and lighting and began their training and careers in the days when it was important to get it right in camera, without resorting to manipulation in the digital darkroom – Photoshop.

In my job, 70% of my time entails interacting with people to make them feel comfortable about being photographed, 5% is the actual shoot and 25% is post production. Whether the interacting includes a consultation before the shoot, either over the phone or in person, or just getting to know them for the first time when we meet for the shoot, I need to be a people person and help them break away from the preconceived notion of phobia towards the photographer.

Once we’ve had a bit of a chat and they relax into the shoot, I give them some directions for posing and we’re underway. We’ll have a bit of a laugh because that pose feels no way natural, we’ll shoot some more and then I show them the results. For me, that’s when the magic happens. Just to see their faces light up in almost disbelief that the person in the image is them is priceless. At this point I know we’re good and I have a happy client.

Sure my clients look good but the most important thing I can do when shooting people is making them feel good about the way they look which gets me off the hook and then they actually like me.

It’s vital to make my clients feel at ease while they are being photographed. By talking, laughing and having a joke with them, I ensure that they are relaxed and can give me the best version of themselves for the camera.

This client kept putting her shoot off, most likely out of fear that she wouldn’t like the results. After a bit of direction, lots of fun and a tiny bit of effort, she was thrilled with her photos.

 

stilz_com_au_MG_3898

To Stock or Not to Stock?

In our highly visual, modern and very competitive business world, will generic stock photography individualise and most importantly, personalise your company’s image enough to outclass your competition and impress your prospects?

The debate is whether to make use of generic stock photos purchased from global online image banks or rather, have a customised portfolio of corporate and commercial photography of your actual business, staff and products, professionally produced through a commercial photography studio.

Successful companies have known the answer for some time now. When prospects are introduced to a business through marketing and advertising, be it through a web site or printed material, consumers expect to see an accurate and realistic representation of the business. A picture does tell a thousand words. Just how that picture is created and who or what is the subject is vital to establishing the right first impression to do the business justice.

Investing in a personalised collection of photographs for the business will give the business owner creative direction to determine how the company is presented to the public. It also introduces real and actual people, rather than models who have little personal connection with the company.

A common objection to this however, is the misconception that people are not photogenic. This misconception is often due to the less than impressive images people sometimes see of themselves when photographed with an average snap shot camera, or nowadays, a smart phone or tablet. These cameras have limited lighting capabilities, a key element of professional photography.

Another important element is posing and this is an essential skill which contributes immensely to the final result. An inexperienced amateur may not be aware of certain angles and poses that suit a subject best. 

This is where the skills of a professional photographer come into play, initially by being able to make people feel at ease by forgetting that they are being photographed. This results in a much more relaxed atmosphere and much more comfortable subject. Secondly, the professional studios are equipped with the correct specialised lighting equipment. Coupled with the photographer’s skill and knowledge of photographic posing techniques, the subject’s aesthetic features may be enhanced and flaws may even be disguised. So trust that the professional studios know what they are doing and the ‘photogenic’ misconception will be eliminated.

What is the benefit in photographing a business’s actual staff and employees over choosing a stock image of models crowded around a computer monitor or laughing while in deep conversation on a conference call? (How many times have you seen those shots?)

The great benefit is that prospects can already begin to relate with the business and when they meet these people in the flesh at their appointment, they feel like they know the people representing this business already. The friendly, familiar faces (not the generic models) can also begin to instil trust in the prospect that the business is fair dinkum.

Using photographs of the company’s actual people, products and premises also contributes to the company’s branding. Again, prospective customers can identify the people or products as belonging to a unique organisation. Use of personalised imagery also guarantees that no two businesses are using the same stock images in their advertising, therefore confusing branding.   

Taking the time to plan a brief and organise a photographic shoot with a professional studio may be a worthwhile investment for a business to boost the first impression and personalise the company’s image.

Four important tips to achieve better photos for your business.

Upgrading your photos for your business website and brochures is an opportunity to put your business in the spotlight. But what are the important things to consider in planning to achieve results that paint the best picture of your business?

1. What are you selling?

Products or people? Is your business products based or services based? If you sell products, the answer is obvious. If your business is service based, think of marketing your staff who deliver those services; they are the face of your business and should be familiar to prospects even before their initial contact.     

2. Who is your market?

Think of the demographic you are selling to. Gender? Age? Occupation?  Structure your campaign to target your market.

3. What’s your message?

How are you portraying your business to clients and prospects? Do you want to come across as professional but approachable? As proficient but casual and practical? As a conscientious professional?  

4. Who are your competitors and how do they market themselves?

Study your competition, be unique and stand out in your marketplace.

Keeping these ideas in mind can help to set up a precise goal to aim for when planning some new marketing imagery for any business. For further advise and help with some new business photography, contact us on 02 9680 9823 or email francesca@stilz.com.au

Changing Face

2013 began with a big corporate bang, both in the type of work we have been undertaking in the last few months and also the direction in which the Stilz Fotografika studio has been taking.

We recently updated our logo. Very exciting! Here’s the new version.

Basic CMYK

As well as a change in colour scheme, our logo has taken on a whole new look and a mature, corporate feel, leading the studio down a more commercial direction.

We have also stepped up our involvement with our local business chamber, The Sydney Hills Business Chamber, www.sydneyhillsbusiness.com.au. Stilz Fotografika is a Silver Support Partner, documenting (photographing, of course) the chamber’s bi-monthly events. The greatest benefit we get from being a chamber member is building relationships with other local business people.

A popular product which we offer the corporate market is the humble head shot. Of all the sessions we have done recently, one stands out as our favourite, due to the sophisticated feel which this company wanted to go for.

360HR, www.360hr.com.au renewed their web site shortly after the new year and needed updated head shots of the staff, with a classy edge to reflect the image of the company and to fit in well with the new look web site.

These guys knew they wanted to go for a low key image in black and white. Below are the stunning results.

Stilz Fotografika_360HR

Thanks to the ladies and gentlemen of 360HR and to Kellie for the behind-the-scenes organising to achieve this great outcome.