If you’re a business owner or sole trader then almost certainly you have had to consider the possibility of using advertising photography in some way to help boost sales or brand awareness. Advertising photography is clearly an important aspect of promoting and marketing a business, but it is also a solution fraught with a range of problems and challenges.
Not only that but any cursory search online will inevitably result in a wealth of sites offering advice on how to go about advertising photography, yet much of this information conflicts. For example there are businesses, marketers and sole traders who swear by using in-house solutions rather than professional photography services.
Perhaps if the company or business just happens to be a photographic studio then this sounds like a good idea, but for anyone else the chance of being able to create advertising photography that really sells is somewhat farfetched.
Let’s not forget that advertising photography has been around for decades, but the concept has changed in that period of time. It has had to, simply because of the wealth of advertising and marketing messages to which we are all exposed on a daily basis. When there were only a handful of photographs advertising products, businesses or brands it was reasonably easy to achieve success simply because there was relatively little to compare it to, and little competing with it.
But today so many companies are distributing so many advertising messages that there is a huge amount of competition. Every image has to compete against hundreds or thousands of other images, and so its chance of making an impact is very much diluted.
But the problem doesn’t stop there, because if you do manage to capture the interest of consumer, the image then has to achieve much more than simply portraying what the product looks like. This is the real difference in advertising photography today compared to photographic marketing of even a few years ago.
Today every image has to communicate so much information and so many ideas and often in just a fraction of a second. Sadly a photograph, no matter how good, that simply includes the product is often not enough. Advertising photography is different from photography, yet often business owners tend to focus only on the word photography, perhaps assuming that any photograph of a product is, by default, advertising photography.
However the truth is that it is not. A photograph of a product is simply a photograph of a product. It always will be, and is unlikely to be anything else.
So what has to be done in order to turn a photograph into an advert? Essentially it’s about communicating something, saying something to the consumer. It may even involve communicating grand concepts or stimulating emotional responses in the consumer, and it is only by achieving this that advertising photography can really be accepted as being distinct from merely a product photography.
But how do you communicate concepts, stimulate emotional responses or otherwise actively engage the consumer on a much deeper level than merely one of retail?
The first challenge is to make sure that you fully understand the consumer. Only when you have a crystal clear understanding of who your target audience is can you begin to understand how your advertising photography needs to be tailored to target them effectively. This is another shortcoming many business owners fail to appreciate.
Advertising photography doesn’t just mean coming up with a bland please-all solution that will appeal to everyone. Many of the leading names create advertising messages which specifically target different parts of their target audience so that they’ll have more impact. If you’re targeting 30 something professionals then your whole approach needs to be different from an approach that would more effectively target teenagers.
But whilst it’s easy to see how advertising photography needs to take into consideration the target audience and understand what are the most effective ways to market your products to them, appreciating what the tactics and tools are that will achieve this is quite another matter. How do professional photographers create a photographic image that sells a product rather than merely showing people what it looks like?
To answer this would require many years’ of experience, and reams of article content to even scratch the surface. Far better than trying to blunder through the process in house is to make use of a professional photography studio and a photographer who has years of experience creating images that sell rather than merely creating images which show what things look like in an unimaginative way. Advertising photography is about selling, and it’s important to make sure that the camera is your marketing friend and not an impartial outside superficial assessment.