With the prevalence of internet usage and infusion of social media in our daily life, consumers have become more visual now than ever.
Not only do they count on a website or app to look appealing, they also are more inclined to notice — and judge — if an image is an authentic one or one that is a stock photo. Does the image provoke a feeling? Does the image look real? Is it believable? These are the questions that consumers answer subconsciously. Unintentionally. This is what happens now with visually-savvy consumers.
A content-heavy landing page is no longer desirable. What is enviable are sites with eye-catching images that make the viewer feel something. A connection. A feeling. A desire to buy it, to attend it, to be a part of it. Whatever the business is, the images can make a consumer intrigued. It is then up to the total content of the pages to seal the deal with whatever the business is selling. Without the compelling images and a buttoned-up marketing strategy, consumers will exit the site.
You only have a few seconds to make a first impression.
So if you’re a business owner or you manage a business, take a look at your website and ask yourself, “What does my home page say about my business?” “Does it command my attention?” “Does it look modern and exciting, or boring and dated”?
As an example, I’ve attached print screens of Rice Business School‘s Before and After home page and program page. This was a recent Commercial Photography project I worked on, and I am very proud to be a part of it. I think you’ll agree that the Before and After are like night and day.
These are a few of the rotating images…
Websites have been vital for businesses for eons, but with each year, I believe that Commercial Photography has increased in its importance. What do you think? Can you have a great business without a strong web presence and imagery?
I went back to Houston, y’all! :) This time, I spent a few days photographing the beautiful and prestigious Jones Graduate School of Business at Rice University. (For short, I call it Rice Business School.)
All important projects have goals.
One of my goals was to capture the personality and essence of Rice Business School in an authentic way. My days consisted of attending classes, taking casual headshots of students within each MBA program, capturing images of professors collaborating with students, scouting locations, and sculpting images based on the light. Putting someone in the stairwell because there was “good light” was not unfathomable!
All great adventures have obstacles.
One that surfaced was the weather. There could be sun and clear skies and then a half hour later, it would turn dark, rainy, and windy. And no one would blink an eye… except me, a California girl whose State has been in a severe drought for years. When it rains in CA, it’s reported on every news channel!
No obstacle was too big, however, even when we found out on Shoot Day 1 that there would be no students on Day 3 and few students on Day 2. So yes, I had to photograph a school with limited students. Meh, not a problem! ;) All kidding aside, I wholeheartedly believe challenges are opportunities for growth, so bring them on, I say!
Now take a look.
These are the faces of Rice Business School… the faces of the campus, faculty and students. They have much to celebrate at this school, and I am humbled to be a part of their creative process.
Now that you’ve seen Commercial Shoot days 1 and 2 of Duchesne Academy of The Sacred Heart, I wanted to share a peek of day 3… “The Dry Day”. You can just imagine how I hopped and skipped around campus that morning when I saw the glorious sunshine!
In this blog post of the all girls’ Catholic School shoot, you’ll see students who show self-confidence, curiosity, respect, friendship…
…and beauty from within.
I had the pleasure of flying to Houston, Texas last week to photograph Duchesne Academy of The Sacred Heart, a Pre-K to 12th Grade Catholic school for girls. [FYI: Duchesne is French and is pronounced "doo-shen".]
I was blown away by the tremendous amount of kindness that exuded from the students and faculty during my 3-day visit. There were students who helped put away furniture that we moved for the shoot and did it even after we said they didn’t need to help. People held doors for us and welcomed us with big, genuine smiles. When we asked for directions to a room, there were students who didn’t just point, but rather, they took the time to walk with us.
That may sound small, but I don’t think any amount of kindness is ever “small”. And they never went unnoticed or unappreciated.
The emblem for this school is a heart, which I think is perfect because, from what I experienced, this school is full of HEART. <3
Since I have too many favorites to share on this 3-Day Commercial Photography project, I divided them up into two blog posts:
Part 1: Days 1 and 2, which were the wet days. Yep, it was raining. On Tuesday, there was even a thunderstorm and the darkest sky I’ve ever seen in the day!
Part 2: Day 3, which happened to be the dry day. Wahooo… and there was sunshine!
Below is Part 1. Enjoy!
There are many niches in Photography. I have to say, I absolutely LOVE bringing my Lifestyle twist to Commercial Photography.
When I visited Pinewood School’s Lower and Middle Campuses last week, I had between 15 to 30 minutes per area to photograph it.
For 7 1/2 hours, I was on high alert for all things beautiful: smiling faces, focused students, engaged instructors, good light, colorful backdrops, special moments… Details that represent student life on campus. I was also constantly looking out for things to avoid, like distracting elements on students and in backgrounds.
I had limited time to get the shots that tell the story of the schools and minimal ability to set things up as these were actual students in their classes. It was nonstop excitement. My adrenaline is pumping just thinking about it!
Lower Campus (Grades K – 2)
Middle Campus (Grades 3 – 6)
When you’re a parent, you want the best for your children. Choosing a school can be so hard because we know that a good school is beyond lesson plans and grades.
It was my pleasure to return to Pinewood School’s Upper Campus (Grades 7 – 12) to photograph their new programs, campus changes, and the delightful student body!
Below is a sneak peek of my day there. And if you missed it, you have to check out their football practice photos!
I love buying fresh fruits, vegetables and flowers directly from the farmers. I love hanging out at farmer’s markets and listening to music. I love looking at all the vivid colors, shapes and textures of the produce. And, let’s be real — I love satisfying my uncontrollable need to accept (and devour) any and all fruity taste-tests!
Farmer’s markets are awesome.
And now, after my Commercial Shoot at North Berkeley’s farmer’s market, I was able to talk with some of the farmers and watch them work. And wow — they are not only incredibly hardworking, but also, they are some of the nicest, most genuine people I’ve ever met.
I am so grateful to be reminded of how farmers are the HEART of America!
I am also delighted I had the opportunity to take photographs for a great organization, Ecology Center, and an amazing program, Market Match. Eating healthy can sometimes be a challenge when you have a small budget and this program enables lower income families to essentially “stretch their dollar”, so they can buy fresh and delicious produce at farmer’s markets!
This Commercial Shoot was a dream come true in so many ways: the visual beauty of nature, the people, the program. Love it all.
Portrait Photography is not only about having CAMERA skills, but also PEOPLE skills — specifically, knowing how to make her subjects feel comfortable during a session and guiding them into the most flattering light and positions.
Here is an example from the other day. I had an Executive Headshot session, which is typically 30 to 40 minutes.
The first set of images below were images taken in the very beginning of the shoot. They are nice portraits and, for some photographers, the session would have ended right there.
Instead, we kept going and after some talking (for fun, not about the shoot) and some guidance… the images went from “nice” to “LOVE!”
First Few Shots ==> Nice
Shots Later On ==> Comfort ==> Gorgeousness
Taking aside the difference in the background and jacket, just look at her face. Even her eyes are smiling!
You can’t instruct someone to “look relaxed” or “smile with your entire face”; they do that when they feel at ease with and trust the photographer.
How your subject feels during the shoot ends up being attributes a viewer perceives when they look at the photo.
Just look at the comparison below.
When you look at Image A and Image B, you may feel different things about their abilities, their competency and even their personalities. And they are the same person! That is the power of a headshot.
Who would you hire? Who would you call? Who would you prefer to work with?
That doesn’t mean the last few shots are always the ‘money shots’. Some photographers may choose not to take a single image until their subject is relaxed and ready.
For me, I go right in and start shooting because I think the longer people wait, the more anxiety or nervousness may build. Then I talk to them and guide them throughout their session.
We all have different styles, but the goal is the same.
A change is coming to the corporate world in terms of photography.
Businesses are moving away from stock photography for their websites and marketing materials, and corporate head shots are also getting a makeover.
The new chapter for head shots is to have them look and feel more personable.
From a marketing standpoint, you want to know whom you’re going to work with when you look at a photo of someone. You don’t want to see a person standing or sitting in front of a sterile blue or stark white pop-up background, for instance. Nothing stiff or stale. You also don’t want to see a low quality selfie taken with a phone. There’s nothing professional about that.
This morning, I photographed these two men in the lobby of a hotel.
This is what it entailed: They brought their morning coffee, their smart phones, a newspaper, printed workflows and a pen. Then they chatted with each other across the table.
The result: relaxed and natural head shots.
By the way, this was my other view: a cute little girl playing with my iPad!
My littlest monkey came with me to this super short shoot. (Can you say that 10 times fast?!!) I am the luckiest girl to get kisses during the shoot and get to hold her hand afterwards.
For goodness sake, I am not a morning person. Wait, where’d I put my coffee? ;) Okay, let’s continue…
So why do a shoot at sunrise? For many reasons! Here are a few examples using images from my Commercial Shoot last Sunday…
To get outdoor images without cars and people.
To capture a building’s lighting of signs and storefront. These lights are usually in key places and give an added dimension to photos. They are usually automatic, just like with streetlamps, so once it is bright enough outside, they go dark.
To get even lighting outdoors. There are no harsh shadows or blown-out details from the strong sun.
To capture images of the beautiful day break.
Notice the amazing horizontal light on the bushes? LOVE IT!
To capture animals and people in their freshest, calmest state.
Next time, find out what time the sun rises in your city and bring your camera!