The role of photographs when providing an ‘invisible’ service

Trenches Law News   •   September 29th, 2020

As our reputation has continued to grow within the niche arena of telecoms law, we’ve become all too familiar with having our photographs taken to help tell our story. The person routinely on the other side of the camera is Neil Walker, so he was an obvious choice when it came to approaching the next author for our advice-led guest blog…

As an event photographer used to shooting in documentary style, disappearing into the background to capture moments as they really unfold, is how I work on a daily basis.

I almost have to become invisible, if I’m to truly capture someone’s ‘best side’. But the beauty actually lies in this invisibility. It encourages individuals to be themselves. And conveying this authenticity via the power of an image, is one of the best ways for a business to communicate with its target audience.

So, while commercial photography may initially feel difficult for organisations that don’t provide a tangible or particularly visual product, remember this ‘invisibility’ point.

Take Trenches Law – a team of legal professionals and wayleave experts here to support the telecoms sector. How can photographs tell their story when they’re delivering a complex service that you can’t see or touch?

Here are the principles we work to:

  1. Appoint a ‘project manager’

A good photographer will want to ask questions in advance of the shoot. This isn’t about taking up more time than is necessary – it simply encourages relevant preparation on both sides.

To ensure this prep work doesn’t detract from the ‘day job’, it is a good idea to appoint a ‘project manager’ – a nominated contact who can coordinate diaries, answer the questions outlined in this blog, and rally the troops on the day of the photography itself.

This individual may not be able to articulate the exact vision of the shoot, but they will undoubtedly provide a helpful source of information that helps the brief take shape.

  1. Understand the purpose of the photographs

Next, it is important to consider where and how the images will be used. This will influence the style of the shoot and the chosen surroundings. Website headshots will require far more longevity than campaign-specific social media shots which could benefit from being more emotive or ‘one off’, for instance.

This all forms part of the brief, way before we get the camera out.

  1. Demonstrate your personality

Everything has to align, of course, but try not to shy away from the personality of your business. Your culture – from passion to professionalism, and dynamism to diligence – can really shine through in people-focused photographs, which is why different organisations tend to adopt different styles that best reflect what they’re about. Sometimes departments in the same company will do the opposite to each other, which can work well if the traits of the teams are genuinely distinct.

This may also influence if staged or reportage-style shots are preferred. You don’t have to decide only one or the other, of course, as both will be useful for different communication channels moving forward. But looking at such samples of work will help to decide on the level of formality sought.

It should go some way to deciding on location too. Clean surroundings naturally work well as nobody wants to see an untidy desk! But there is a difference between a somewhat clinical environment and a behind-the-scenes-style look at a vibrant office. There’s nothing wrong with either approach, providing it marries up with the wider communications objectives discussed here.

  1. Unpick the story

A picture is worth a thousand words, according to the old proverb. And virtually every story has a people-related angle, so define this and any others which will help to communicate the message your brand needs to broadcast.

There may be other ‘low hanging fruit’ too, which can add context without appearing ‘cheesy’ or forced.  Trenches Law’s services may be ‘invisible’, but network operators’ build plans are not, nor is the work of the teams in the street digging up the roads to lay cables. Think about the wider narrative and try to capture this visually too, if it is relevant.

There’s no harm in inviting other partners or third parties into the photograph too, if relevant. This is often particularly useful when it comes to capturing images for a specific communications project such as a press release announcement. In fact, it is believed that an article accompanied by a suitable image is 94% more likely to engage a reader than one that is text only or uses a stock photo.

  1. Consider what will resonate

While the photographs have to satisfy all of the considerations outlined in this blog, try to also think what will capture the attention of your target audience. What is familiar to them? What are they looking for, in a trusted supplier? What will they expect versus what will make them stop and pay attention? This could influence the brief too.

  1. Be consistent

Your brand will naturally amass more and more photographs over time, and the style may evolve in line with the expansion of your company or your standing in industry. However, try and be consistent – certainly at defined points in time. Images will then grow to become associated with your business and may even be instantly recognisable as yours.

  1. Build your own stock library

While some stock image sites are better than others, try where possible to build your own library. Customers are more discerning nowadays and the same stock team shots tend to do the rounds on corporate websites. This can be a real turn off – not least when a client is looking for a supplier who can provide a personal, honest and value adding service. In short, if you don’t use photos of your actual team, be prepared to explain why.

‘People buy from people’ – cliché, but true. So, if you don’t feature your own colleagues in the shots, some prospective customers may question how personable they are, or even if you truly have the co-workers your website claims you do.

Don’t rest on your laurels either. Even the best library of your own stock photos should be reviewed and refreshed every two years, if not more frequently, if you want your images to continue to capture attention.

  1. Make photos work hard

From optimising photos for maximum SEO gain, to ensuring you’ve ticked the ‘who, what, why, where, when and how’ boxes before you start, a well-shot image can actually work harder for your business than you might initially think.

Hopefully this is helpful advice which, more than anything, shows that companies in the tech sector – and other brands providing an ‘invisible’ service – still have lots of media-rich opportunities open to them when it comes to producing compelling photography. Considering these eight points ahead of a shoot may sound like a big ask, but if you appoint the right photographer for the job, they should cover all of this, as standard, with minimal fuss.

To talk further, why not connect with me on LinkedIn?