More brands are connecting with customers through digital channels now than ever before and there has never been a more important time to have great photos for your organization. But how do you take the best photos using your own resources and when is it best to go pro?
Our October panel shared tips and information on how to do photography right, getting the most from your budget when you hire a photographer, and how to make sure you are following copyright laws.
Panelists AJ Greisen and Addie Peck who together run A&J Photography, Maison Engel of Maison Meredith Photography, Steph Shanks of Steph Shanks Photography, and lawyer Erin Ogden with Ogden Glazer + Shaefer stressed the importance of planning and communication to get results.
The following are some event highlights:
Ask yourself tough questions
Put thought and time into your intention to get images for your brand that get noticed. Ask yourself: What will the purpose and intent will your photo serve? How will the image relate to the platform you intend to use it on? And how does it relate to the needs of your clients?
Think about photo permission ahead of time
Copyright law protects the creative expression of ideas. That means photos are owned by those who create them.
If you take your own photos, no worries about obtaining permission. If not, get written permission. This can range from formalizing a written contract with a photographer to messaging the owner of an image to get their OK to post — but be specific. Know who owns what, where you are given permission to post and whether the photographer will retain portfolio rights.
If you’re having an event where photos will likely be taken of people attending, make it clear ahead of time that photography will happen and make sure people know how to opt out of being photographed. It is your responsibility to manage that process, not the photographer you hire for the event.
Getting your best shot
Great lighting can make your photos stand out and best reflect your brand. Images taken indoors show best when taken near a lighted window avoiding having light directly behind your shot. Outside, look for shade or a cloudy day to get the best results.
When you find the light that best reflects your brand, stick with the same spot for each shot. Vary images by switching up the backdrop. You can purchase a neutral styling mat or use a variety of backgrounds such as tagboard, wrapping paper, wood or even a clean box to make images look different in the same place.
Adding negative space can also enhance an image by creating room around to highlight the subject. See Social Squares on Instagram for a great example of this. This is easily done by using the grid lines in your phone, found under settings. Place the subject in the middle or on one of the grid lines to create negative space.
Inexpensive tools that will up your game include a selfie light and tripod. For videos, a microphone and gimbal can be handy. Apps like the free Snapseed can help with photo editing. And cloud storage solutions such as Google Photo or a similar service can free up space on your phone.
When to hire a pro
There’s only so much that you can do on your own, and it is sometimes most effective to hire a professional to get the right photo. Get the best bang for your buck by thinking through what photos you need, how you will use them and then talking this through with the photographer as a first step in the creative process.
Be clear about what you want to accomplish, share your vision and even provide sample images that convey the tone you seek. Create a shotlist and don’t forget to think about evergreen images — photos you can use again and again — that you can have done during the shoot.
If you’re a non-profit organization, ask if a photographer has a non-profit rate.
The bottom line: Know your brand and vision as well as photo intention and plan ahead to stretch your budget. Have the conversations when you hire, itemize and prioritize your photo needs, and get in writing what you own and where you can and can’t post. Communication and planning solve a lot of these issues.
Non-profit Spotlight: Madison Public Library Foundation
The Madison Public Library Foundation builds better libraries by raising funds to provide needed resources to people in our community. The organization emphasizes equity and access by funding projects that benefit people of color and underrepresented people. Two current events are the 10th annual Ex Libris 2020 and the perennial Wisconsin Book Festival , each virtual this year.
Although Ex Libris is sold out, you can still participate in the silent auction. The Wisconsin Book Festival continues with events through the year live on Crowdcast or after the event at the festival website.