“A picture is worth a thousand words.” It’s not one of the most quotable phrases for nothing. It’s because it’s true; especially these days. In our pixilated world, we spend 50-75% of our day consuming media. At some point, we go into overload-mode, stop reading and just look at pictures. It reminds me of library visits in elementary school. While free to roam, we’d flip through encyclopedias (yes, the big hefty books with slick pages and gold-leafed edges) that had millions of words. But it was much more fun to flip through and look at the pictures; there were just too many letters on the pages!

In the marketers’ realm, photos have the ability to help your brand rise to the top or, at its worst, make your brand simply look unattractive.

Here are some simple rules to provide your creative team (or if you’re in an agency, a production manager) when choosing a photographer. Make sure they have a portfolio that reflects these ideas.

1)       Depth of field. Pick a viewpoint and make sure there are objects in the background and the foreground. This will give the photo depth – 2-D vs 1-D.

2)       Lighting. The last thing you want to do is take a picture of the sky when it’s overcast and gray. Your photo will have “dead” space. The reason outdoor fashion spreads are shot at the crack of dawn is that the light is coming in from the bottom and illuminating structure (cheekbones, etc) and not beating down causing shadows. If you’re taking photos inside, don’t just turn on all the lights you can. Instead, the light needs to be strategically placed so that it is highlighting the subject you want your audience to focus on.

3)       Subjects. A photo of a swimming pool during the summer with no people is rather dull. It doesn’t represent what the pool is used for – swimming and having fun. Yes, it takes money to hire talent if you don’t want to collect photo releases from every person you take a photo of, but it’s well worth it. Action shots invite the viewer in while shots of inanimate objects aren’t that interesting.

4)       Balance. If you want to take a picture of a building, don’t just stand in a position where you can fit the entire building the frame. Your photo will have no detail. Your viewer’s eye wants to focus in on something and a photo from 100 feet away will not be interesting enough. Choose an angle and focus on part of the building that makes a statement – maybe it’s the entrance with a tall stone column or an interesting geometric walkway leading up to the front door. Or maybe it’s an American flag waving right in front of the name on the building.

So, what is a blog post about photography doing without any photography? Well, while I found a lot of good examples of what I’m talking about above, but I didn’t feel it was right to call out a complete stranger’s photo. So, if you need advice or a referral to a photographer, just drop us a line.