Welcome to the launch of my redesigned and expanded website, which now includes my brand new blog. Thank you to my colleagues and friends for all their valuable comments, many of which are reflected in the new design, and to my web designer, who steered me through the process.
And now, down to business—your business. No matter what business you are in, a website that shows your product off in the very best light is critical to your marketing. More than likely your website is your potential client's first stop when he or she is choosing an architect, a builder, an interior designer, vacation accommodations, a restaurant…. Great photography on your website can clinch that sale, poor photography can make a good product look bad. There's too much competition out there to have mediocre, unprofessional photography in any of your marketing, be it electronic or print.
Let's take the hospitality industry as an example. Here's the scenario: your potential customers are planning a February vacation at a ski resort. They've picked out the location and now they are looking for a place to stay. They google "inns, b & b's, resorts, Jackson Hole, WY, Stowe, VT," or wherever, and click on a link for a website that features accommodations in that locale. A list pops up with small photographs, a brief description of each place, and a link to their individual websites. Out of the places that pop up on page one, only a few have a photograph showing that inn or resort in the winter—the others all have pictures shot in the summer. Your potential clients make a mental note of those welcoming "winter" places first, picking out a small group that all look good and are in their price range.
They go to one of your competitor's websites first, probably the one with that inviting winter shot. Wow! The first thing they see is the opening montage of gorgeous photographs. There is a large, close-up shot looking across a beautiful comforter on a sleigh bed to a window seat with a view of snow covered mountains, an evening shot of the inn taken from the entry gates, which are decorated with garlands wrapped with strings of holiday lights and then a tight shot of an elegantly set table in a dining room that is softly lit.
Next, these future guests click on the individual room pages and like what they see there as well. There are pictures of cozy, smaller rooms, uncluttered and inviting and larger beautifully appointed suites. They glimpse a soaking tub surrounded by glowing candles in the adjoining bath. Clicking on the Dining button, they see a photograph of two places set for a breakfast of waffles with fresh fruit, orange juice, and coffee. It looks yummy. There are even photographs of guests cross country skiing and others with guests enjoying the inn in other seasons. This place is really looking good for their winter holiday and maybe a summer one too. After this impressive photo tour, your potential clients are considering springing for one of the more expensive rooms at this inn.
Now they go to your website for a comparison. You have been in your competitor's inn and you know that you two offer the same amenities, your rooms and prices are comparable, you have a great chef (maybe it's you!), and you have better views from many of your rooms. You hired a company this past year to revamp your website, but you skimped on the photography. On your home page, your potential clients find one small opening shot that shows your place in the summer. They click on the Rooms page and see all wide-angle photos with distorted perspectives and a peculiar yellow color to them. In a few, the view through the windows is visible, but the rooms look very dark, and your potential guests can't make out much of the furniture. In others photos, no view is visible through the windows and the windows and all of the lamps look glaringly bright, but the room details are visible…all of them: including the electrical cords, outlets, trash cans, the old style television, the a.c. in the window, the alarm clock, the telephone. Those things remind your potential guests of deadlines and the mundane, instead of a relaxing vacation. In place of a roaring fire in the dining room fireplace, the potential guests see just a flicker and the breakfast in your one closeup shot doesn't look at all appetizing. The wonderful ambience and intimacy of your place is totally lacking in the photography. No matter how great your website features are, it’s the photographs that will draw in your guests and yours are not. Your inn looks ho-hum at best and not worth the money. You do not get the booking. So what is wrong and how can your marketing photographs get your potential clients to actually sign your guest register?
Great photography is about composition, lighting, styling, equipment, digital post production and most importantly a photographer who knows how to use all of them for the subject at hand. Architectural and food photography is very specialized and not all photographers are trained. Want those close up, magazine style shots of the cookies you serve at afternoon tea? I'll shoot those with my Nikon 105 macro lens so I can get close to my subject and have them almost fill the frame. I'll style the scene checking the placement of plate, cookies, napkin, glass… so it looks perfect for the camera's eye and the resulting photograph. I'll adjust my depth of field to bring the cookies into sharp focus, but pleasantly blur the background. My final photograph may look like it was illuminated with just soft, natural light, but I've actually set up in your dining room, a strobe light fitted with a grid set low and on one side and bounced in a bit of fill from a small reflector on the other. That low directional lighting will illuminate and bring out all of the delicious detail, texture and depth in the cookies and the plating. In each room, I'll find the most intriguing angles, remove the extraneous, supplement and enhance the natural light with my lighting, style and prop. I'll use a variety of camera lenses for varied and appealing effect. And if you want to check in during the shoot, you can see it all on my 17" Mac laptop as I go.
In coming posts, I'll talk more about my techniques and walk you through some new and recent projects. Please be in touch…..