The Acquisition of Photography for Your Business

In our previous post we discussed the value of photography. Today we will talk about about how you can acquire quality photography for your business.

If you need images for your business’ use, you can follow one of three avenues:

  1. Take your own snapshot – Do It Yourself
  2. Use a stock photo
  3. Hire a professional photographer to create custom images (which only you will have)

The type of imagery needed and your budget can help determine which is the best course of action, of course, but there are a few considerations to keep in mind as you make decisions for your business.

Snapshots vs Professional Photography

William Morton, IT Manager and Staff Photographer for Camera Ready Cosmetics Studio portrait of photographer William Morton

Hopefully everyone can see a clear difference between the images above. The first image looks more like a dreaded driver’s license photo, or the “Employee of the Month” you sometimes see posted in a grocery store. The second image is clearly a studio portrait showing a person “in their environment,” and illustrates what they do.

The examples below show the view an audience member may get at an event versus what a professional event photographer can capture.

photography from the audience professional event photography by William Morton Visuals

Stock Photography

Many businesses consider stock photography to be an affordable option, as stock photography prices have dropped significantly over the last few years. If you want a generic image of a telephone or a computer, or a random customer service operator, then stock photography may work. However you won’t likely find images of your employees, and it’s even less likely you’ll find images of your management team. Likewise with any public relations events – stock images won’t be of your event, or your people.

Stock photography is also pretty recognizable. It usually features ridiculously good looking models in perfectly pressed clothing, always in solid (and usually bright) colors. For this reason it’s less believable. And recent studies have shown that customers are 1/3 more likely to purchase based on an ad showing a real person rather than a stock model.

Stock photography is, by definition, stock – meaning anyone and everyone has access to use the same images. This can cause confusion, and embarrassment, when the same model shows up in ads for your competition. Don’t think it can happen? Check out this article on Stock Photography from the American Society of Media Photographers. It’s not just the small businesses – even giants like Dell and Gateway can use the same model in the same outfit and the same setting for Back To School ads during the same month. Oops!!

Dell and Gateway use the same stock photography model for competing ads

The girl pictured above is one of the most popular stock models in the world. See just a few examples of how often her image is used in advertising and you can start to see some of the confusion that could arise if your competitor is showing that she “switched to X brand” after your ad had run.

Hire a Professional Photographer

A professional photographer can ensure that you have high quality images customized to your exact needs, and images that only you will have. We have previously shared 10 Reasons to Hire a Professional Photographer, which is a great start. Key points are that a pro will have the experience and the means to ensure that your photo shoot is successful and meets your needs, on time and on budget. The pro knows how to make you look your very best, both photographically and with professional retouching.

The photography portfolios on this site show a variety of photography now available in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, including commercial photography, corporate portraits, and event photography . Another valuable resource that we recommend for photographic talent nationwide as the American Society of Media Photographers’ Find-A-Photographer database. The ASMP site allows you to search by geographic location as well as photographic specialty – and features many of the best professional photographers in the country.

Have any questions? Please feel free to give Morton Visuals a call (toll-free) at 888-239-6213, or email us. We’re happy to help! Have any comments or suggestions? Please feel free to comment here. And of course please feel free to share this article on your social media!

The Value of Photography to Your Business

I recently had an opportunity to do a presentation on business photography for my Farmers Branch Chamber of Commerce, and I decided to focus on the value of photography for the business owner. In the first of two parts below we’ll talk about the value of, the need for, and the types of photography relevant to most businesses.

How Prevalent are Photos?

Some basic numbers, which will be quickly outdated (if they aren’t already):

  • Facebook has 1.5 billion users, 2/3 of whom use it daily
  • 56.5% of the US population are on Facebook
  • Facebook has over 400 billion photos, with 400 million being added every day
  • Every day 1.8 billion images are posted online
  • Instagram has amassed 400 million users, 40 billion photos, and adds 80 million photos every day
  • Instagram has grown so quickly that Facebook just bought it for $1 billion.
  • YouTube has more visits each day than Facebook, and it’s the #2 search engine in the world (behind Google)

[Update 2/10/2017: Some new, updated stats are available. Internet Trends 2017. Stats & Facts in the U.S. and Worldwide]

Why Are Photos So Popular?

Life moves at a much faster pace today than in decades past. Our shorter attention spans are likely born of our information overload. The advent and pervasiveness of smartphones and mobile devices have changed the way we not only receive information but also how we communicate. We want immediate gratification. We don’t want to leave voice messages, so we text – allowing responses even if someone is in class or in a business meeting where they can’t talk. Business is now about information availability and speed (and ease) of transactions. And of course “a picture is worth 1,000 words.” I believe that this last point is the key. We don’t have – or take – the time to read anymore, but rather take in our information in imagery. Thus the rise of the Facebook meme.

Types of Photography

More to the point of the presentation, there are many types of photography of benefit to businesses.

  • Portraits represent people
  • Advertising represents a product or brand
  • Marketing and P.R. represent events
A few of the types of photography offered by William Morton Visuals.

What Can a High Quality Image Do For You?

  •  Put a face to the name
  • Change you from an impersonal corporation to a friendly neighbor
  • Show your style (see our prior blog post on Does Your Image Represent Your Company Culture)
  • Personalize your business
  • Illustrate what you do and how you do it

studio-setting business photographyComerica Bank manager photographed by William Morton Visualsbusiness photography by Morton Visuals for First Bank annual reportoffice group portrait of Labrum Wealth Management

 Other benefits include:

  • Highlighting key moments of events for marketing next year’s event
  • Public relations: awards presentations, community support events
  • Social media content – build your brand
  • Entertainment, particularly at events
  • Take-home advertising for ongoing marketing

Do images affect sales?

According to MDG Advertising, 67% of online shoppers rated high quality images as being “very important” to their purchase decision, which was slightly more than “product specific information,” “long descriptions,” and “reviews & ratings.”

Recently Sports Illustrated magazine released their annual swimsuit edition with three different covers – and they weren’t the first to do this. The magazine industry well knows how important the cover image is to that month’s sales on the newsstands. National Geographic photography is famous for the power of their images, a driving force in their success.

Images are king in social media. Aside from the fact that more and more social media channels are primarily image-based (Instagram, Snapchat, 500px, Flickr, etc.), statistics show that even text-based social media channels show a significantly higher ROI with the inclusion of photography. Adweek reports that SHIFT measured 5 times the engagement on Twitter postings with pictures vs text-only tweets.

In our follow-up blog post we’ll discuss the acquisition of photography and how important that process is to businesses. Until then, please feel free to share this article via social media, and add any comments here!

White Seamless Doesn’t Have to Be Plain or Boring


Morton Visuals photographs fashion models on white seamlessOf all the photography commercial photographers shoot, the white seamless background is the most common. It’s definitely a fashion photography mainstay. A white cove, or “cyc” (short for cyclorama) in a larger studio, is booked at our north Dallas rental photo studio 20 times more often than any other studio, and provided seamless papers in varying colors are only used about 10% of the time. Why is this so popular? Quite simply because it’s easier to drop out the background in your images if you are dropping the subject into a print layout. Catalogs and the like will often feature text wrapped around a subject, and current design trends favor a subject blending in with the page rather than being constrained by a box. Likewise a baseboard on a background wall would be distracting when the focus of an image is on a model or clothing.

Carolina Guanabara by William Morton. Makeup/Hair/Styling by Mary Erickson.Since fashion and catalogs often show an expressionless model “just standing there,” as some describe it, some feel that a white seamless background looks plain. There’s no color, no texture, and essentially nothingness. If the photographer doesn’t light the white background it can look like a shade of gray (as pictured here). This example shows the model “in a box,” which a designer may not want in the layout as compared to the example above. But either way you still have a subject. And a subject doesn’t have to “just stand there.” You can always concentrate on bringing out the model’s personality and featuring it.

Below are a few examples of images we’ve captured on a plain, boring white seamless background. The background of these samples have been adjusted so as to not “float in midair,” so that you can see the image frames. Adjusting for the effect of the top image (of the two young models) in this post is easily achieved in processing. As you can see, once the photographer has built rapport with the subject or subjects, they can collaborate to create some fun, interesting images.

 

Cassie Kociemba jumps for joy (on white seamless)  The St Johns get interactive
Tony Mandarich shows a little humor with his girlfriend on a white seamless background

What can you think of doing with a “plain white background?” Anything that ties in with your job, activities, or interests – or anything that is “you” – can help make your images much more dynamic. And dynamic images sell!

Have some ideas? Leave a comment! Want to talk about how Morton Visuals can help you look dynamic? Give us a call! We’d love to show you what we can do.

Models/Talent – How To Prepare For Your Photo Shoot

Preparing yourself for an important photo shoot can be a daunting task. Many models or actors try to crash diet before the shoot, spray tan, or try any number of other “quickie” fixes at the last minute. Below are some great suggestions from renowned Makeup Artist Mary Erickson.

Most professional model knows by experience about what needs to be done before a photo shoot. If you do not have a lot of modeling experience I suggest you look over the following list of things that will help you for this shoot and in the future. The more of these guidelines you follow the better your shots will turn out.

  1. 72 hours before your photo shoot, avoid the following items (these items can give you oily skin and swelling):
    • Red meat
    • Alcohol
    • Caffeine
    • Spicy foods
    • Retin A and Alpha Hydroxy creams (causes skin peeling that will show with photo makeup)
  2. Drink lots of water, carry it with you everywhere you go, and keep sipping.
  3. Exfoliate your skin at least once a week and also the morning of the shoot.
  4. Have your brows professionally shaped and then keep them up by plucking the strays every few days. I will Pluck strays the day of the shoot but may not have time to shape your brows.
  5. It is a good idea to carry your own mascara to the shoot with you. Some make-up artists use mascara with the same wand on several people. This can spread infection very quickly. Unless you know the artist and know that she only uses disposable wands, it’s best not to take your chances. I do use disposable wands!
  6. Dark roots will look even worse in photos. Refresh your hair color a few days before your shoot. If you do not color your hair, try “shades” or a toner just a shade lighter then your hair to make it shine. If you need a trim, do it before the shoot.
  7. Fingernails and toenails should be one length, well manicured, and the polish should be colorless or French, unless this shoot calls for color.
  8. All traces of makeup should be gone from your skin. All eyeliner and mascara should be gone. Your face should be clean and product free when you arrive.
  9. Do not over condition your hair before a shoot. Do use your regular styling products to make your hair behave, as chances are the hair stylist will not be wetting your hair and not be able to use gels, etc. Your hair must be dry before you arrive at the shoot.
  10. Avoid dry lips by putting Vaseline on your lips before bed and the morning of your shoot.
  11. For body (lots of skin showing) shots, be sure you get rid of tan lines by visiting a tanning booth a few times. Also get rid of unsightly body hair.

If you are paying the artist, feel free to give advice on how you want to look. The photos are yours and you will have to live with them. If it is a commercial shoot or a shoot that someone else is paying for its best to keep quiet on makeup and hair. Chances are the artist knows what the photographer and art director want. It may not be what you prefer but normally the person paying for the shoot likes to make ALL the decisions. If you are new at modeling is a good idea to go ahead and let the artist make the decisions, even if you are paying her or him. In most cases they will know what will look better in the photos – they are dealing with lights, backgrounds and lens filters that you probably are not familiar with.

Mary’s website is full of useful information, especially for the aspiring or “up & coming” makeup artists – check out her Q&A page! And if you want to gauge whether or not she knows what she’s talking about, check out her resumé!

San Diego makeup artist Mary Erickson

Color and Light in the Photography Pro Speaker Series

Morton Visuals‘ owner William Morton was one of the featured speakers at the Pro Speaker Series held at San Diego City College’s Career Technology Center on Saturday. Organized by Tony Amat of A/R Event Photography and Thom Hiatt of TBC Creative Multi-Media, this third edition of the series featured three primary speakers. A great turnout of about 70 enjoyed the seminar, complete with lunch provided by NIK Software. Photos below by Johnakin Randolph for A/R Event Photography.

William Morton, Jane Mitchell, and Tony Corbell of the May 28th Photography Pro Speaker Series seminar at San Diego City College.
William Morton, Jane Mitchell and Tony Corbell pose for a group shot after the seminar. Photo by Johnakin Randolph.

26-time Emmy® Award-winning broadcast journalist Jane Mitchell, author of One on One – My Journey with Hall of Famers, Fan Favorites and RisingStars, opened the program. Her new book chronicles a selection of famous athletes’ stories. As described on her website, “No one else has interviewed or done in-depth personal biographies on this particular collection of athletes.  For some, the One on One program is the only in-depth and comprehensive story on their life.  As the television programs have become a part of the sports archives and landscape in San Diego, this book, with Jane’s unique experience sharing their stories, serves as a little slice of history beyond the replays of the TV shows.”

William Morton speaks at San Diego City College during the Photography Pro Speaker Series seminar
William Morton by Johnakin Randolph.

William Morton presented a segment on “Color – Get it RIGHT!” William identified the three major segments of a digital photography workflow and the importance of properly managing your color throughout the entire image-making process. With tools such as the X-Rite ColorChecker Passport, you can calibrate your camera to ensure that the initial image capture renders accurate colors. Then tools such as the Datacolor Spyder3 Studio can take you the rest of the way through the process, profiling your monitor and your printer (for each ink/paper combination). Once everything is profiled you can start a new image-making session with a known good color target to ensure that you start with (and maintain) good color.

Tony Corbell was the day’s “keynote speaker.” Tony’s accomplishments are extensive, and he has become a well-known photo educator. He has written articles in every major photographic magazine in the U.S., Japan, the U.K. and China. He is currently one of a select few Approved Photographic Instructors from the Professional Photographers of America…and he’s the biggest Beatles fan alive. Tony’s presentation on light was all about understanding the quality of light and utilizing light in all of its forms. He definitely kept the audience’s attention throughout, with many of the students seeking him out afterwards to pose for photos with them.

Lorenzo Gunn was on hand to showcase some of the beautiful photo books from Burrell Color Imaging, Phillip Abel was showing off the cool toys from Mamiya America Corporation and promoting their awesome MAC on Campus program, and Matt & Matt of Bongo Bytes were on hand to show software and lots of cool gadgets. Many thanks not only to all those involved but to all those who came out on a Saturday of Memorial Day weekend. It seemed like everyone learned a bit, and hopefully got some inspiration as well.

William Morton Judges SkillsUSA State Competition

William Morton of Morton Visuals photography in San Diego was selected as a judge in the 2011 SkillsUSA California State Conference  in San Diego yesterday. SkillsUSA is a partnership of students, teachers and industry working together to ensure America has a skilled workforce. SkillsUSA’s mission is to help its members become world-class workers, leaders and responsible American citizens.

In the photography category, contestants demonstrate their ability to use digital SLR’s, image editing software (Adobe Photoshop) and professional studio lighting. Students perform on-site photography, portrait studio lighting & posing, process and print digital photos and submit two 11×14 or 16×20 mounted & matted photographs in advance of the contest to be judged and displayed at the competition. Contestants are evaluated on their mastery of entry-level job skills. William, along with Professional Photographers of California (PPC) Executive Director Roger Daines, PPC President Phillip E. Abel (Regional Manager with the MAC Group), and industry expert Lorenzo Gunn of Burrell Color Imaging, interviewed 22 finalists from all over California in order to select two student photographers to go on to the national competition in Kansas City this June. This challenging process took approximately 5 hours, with the entire judging panel agreeing on the photographers that were the best choices to represent California this June.

SkillsUSA logoSkillsUSA serves more than 300,000 students and instructors annually. The organization has 13,000 school chapters in 54 state and territorial associations. More than 14,500 instructors and administrators are professional members of SkillsUSA. To learn more about this very worthwhile program, visit http://skillsusa.org/about/infoform.shtml.

Helpful Wardrobe Suggestions for Headshots

Since these questions come up constantly, my favorite makeup artist Mary Erickson put together this handy list of considerations when preparing for your headshots.

  • Bring shirts with a collar as well as different necklines.
  • Bring at least 6 different tops to choose from.
  • No sleeveless shirts for headshots, they can make the arms look big and skin below the face takes the attention away from the face.
  • No solid white.
  • Solids usually work best, stay away from patterns and busy prints.
  • Bring a lint brush or lint roller, fuzz will show on dark colors.
  • Make sure your clothes are pressed and clean – very few photographers have irons or extra time. Photo retouching on soiled clothes will usually cost extra.
  • Stay away from clothes with big buttons or ornaments that shine and compete for attention.
  • If you wear earrings they should be small studs. Keep jewelry at a minimum, because anything flashy will distract from you.

Mary’s website is full of useful information, especially for the aspiring or “up & coming” makeup artists – check out her Q&A page! And if you want to gauge whether or not she knows what she’s talking about, check out her resumé!

William Morton Slated For Professional Speaker Series

William Morton - Professional Photography Speaker at City CollegeWilliam Morton, owner of William Morton Visuals, has been selected to speak during the third photographers’ Professional Speaker Series at San Diego City College on May 28. William reports that he will be the “opening act” for the renowned Tony Corbell, a very popular speaker in the photography industry.

William will talk about “Color – Getting It Right!” In the world of professional photography, accurate color is a MUST. His discussion will include color calibration of your camera, monitor, and output as well as how to ensure that the color you’re capturing with your digital camera is accurate.

Shooting since his days on the Junior High School yearbook, William has 20 years of professional experience. Currently a local Board member and past-President of the American Society of Media Photographers (San Diego) as well as an Instructor for the Panasonic-sponsored Digital Photo Academy, William has also spent 5 years training portrait and event photographers for a national franchise. William’s current focus is on commercial photography and corporate events.

Internationally recognized Tony Corbell will be the featured speaker at this event. Tony’s presentation is titled “The Power Of Light in The Digital World,” and understanding and controlling light quality is at the core of all of Tony’s presentations. Attendees will learn how to see a unique perspective and not be afraid to push the limits of their experience and talents. Tony has been teaching lighting concepts, theories, and techniques for over twenty years and his week-long workshops on the topic always fill to capacity. In the past couple of years alone, Tony spoke to over 9,000 photographers worldwide on the topic of light control.

For those not familiar with Tony’s pedigree, Tony has photographed three U.S. presidents, 185 World Leaders, 65 Nigerian Heads of State, about 600 brides and grooms, a couple of NASA astronauts and lots of famous and not so famous faces. He has spoken at over 400 seminars and workshops nationally and internationally. He is the recipient of the highest honor from the Wedding and Portrait Photographers International with their Lifetime Achievement Award and achieved the status of Photographic Craftsman from the Professional Photographers of America. In 2005, Tony received the “Photographer of the Year” Award from the International Photographic Council of the United Nations and the PPA National Award from the Professional Photographers of California. Tony was also invited to join the prestigious Camera Craftsmen Of America in 2007, one of only 40 members worldwide. In 2007/08, Tony spoke to over 8,000 photographers in 36 cities including London, Glasgow, Dublin, Toronto, Mexico City, Sydney and many more U.S. cities. 2009 will again be busy with Tony traveling to London, Germany and many other cities discussing lighting and image editing. Tony also say’s he’s the world greatest Beatles fan..

Organized by Tony Amat of AR Event Photography and Thom Hiatt of Twin Bees Consulting, this event will be held in the auditorium of the Career Technology Center at San Diego City College, from 10am-2pm on Saturday, May 28. Lunch is included! Tickets may be purchased from the Twin Bees’ website at http://www.mytwinbees.com/professional-speaker-series/.

William Morton Takes DPA to Balboa Park

William Morton led a Digital Photo Academy class in Balboa Park this weekend. The class, titled “Composition In The Field“, is a fun photo safari for the students. The idea is that if you were dropped out of a plane at any place in the world, you would be able to create good, interesting images there. This month’s trek included the beautiful buildings of Balboa Park, along with a variety of flowers in the Botanical building – a few of which are shown below. Each student is challenged with capturing images that illustrate six rules of composition, including:

  • Rule of Thirds
  • Leading Lines
  • Symmetry and Patterns
  • “Primary Point of Interest” Isolation
  • Cropping and Framing
  • Viewpoint and Perspective
Flowers in front of the Botanical Building at Balboa Park
Rule of Thirds
The colonnade of the Spreckels Organ Pavilion at Balboa Park
Leading Lines
The Casa del Prado at Balboa Park
Symmetry
A very colorful flower in the Balboa Park Botanical building.
Primary Point of Interest
The San Diego Museum of Man rises above the trees at Balboa Park
Cropping
(Rule of Thirds)
Palm trees tower over Balboa Park
Viewpoint/ Perspective

William rotates around various locations in San Diego each month. Last month the class explored Old Town, and the month prior to that found the class in Little Italy. To check on the location for upcoming classes, visit the DPA page for San Diego. Note that a variety of photography classes are offered each month, in 24 cities nationwide, all taught by professional photographers. Call or check it out today!

William Morton Teaches at Tri-Community College

William Morton poses next to a poster advertising his Location Lighting class
William Morton and the Location Lighting poster

William Morton of Morton Visuals was invited to present a seminar at the Tri-Community School of Photography in Covina this weekend. William put together a 3-hour class on Location Lighting – Taking Control of Your Color. The 57 students learned new techniques to identify the ambient color cast in a location, match their lighting, and effectively neutralize all color casts in their finished image. Additional time was spent showcasing recent photo projects and examining both “behind the scenes” images illustrating how the images were captured and lighting diagrams explaining how the effects were created. Maintaining an accurate color balance was an underlying theme of all. Afterwards William reported that he was pleased with the turnout and the great questions posed by the students, even during breaks and afterwards. The students of Tri-Community were enthusiastic, and hopefully everyone left with a new idea (or three) to try themselves. Thanks to ASMP colleague Ramon Purcell for the company on the long drive, as well as the photos shown here.

William Morton teaches about Color Management at Tri-Community School of Photography
William Morton teaches about Color Management at Tri-Community School of Photography