I Tell Stories

March 30, 2020

David Hurcombe - Architect, Apex Architecture.David Hurcombe - Architect, Apex Architecture, Bath.David Hurcombe - Architect, Apex Architecture.

David Hurcombe - Architect, Apex Architecture, Bath.

The business image you choose to show to the world is unique. It is an image of you that looks like you but bears no resemblance to who you are in private life. It conveys business only messages to potential clients and employers alike. I believe you should therefore have taken some time to consider “how” you want to look in those images and pieces to camera. To kickstart this mindset, you should have been asked (by any portrait photographer worth his or her salt) “how do you want to look?” what message do you want to convey, what personality and qualities do you want to come through?

The single most difficult question to ask my clients is “how do you want to look?” To some, that question had never occurred to them. To others self-consciousness can all too easily cloud their judgement.

Jake - Chef/proprietor of the Pig & Apple CafeThe Pig & Apple cafe Jake - Chef/proprietor of The Pig & Apple Cafe at Humble by Nature

I tell people that commercial and editorial work is about telling stories. It could be your story, it could be that of your employees, your facilities, your estate, or your processes. Many often forget the story of their customers and how you and your business solve a need that they have.

All of this can be usefully reinforced by visually connecting with your audience regardless of whether you have met in person.

So often I see the exact opposite of this. On LinkedIn the go to business connection platform there are thousands of anonymous silhouettes. There are just as many up against the wall or car park hedge shots by photographers happy to pull the trigger for the price of a networking breakfast. Whilst the individual images may be perfectly serviceable, I can’t see that there has been much thought of how that shot fits in to your corporate approach, I could of course be wrong.

Paul SmithPaul SmithPaul Smith, Forest of Dean Independent Financial Advisor Paul Smith - Independent Financial Advisor

When you are thinking about portrait media for business, as well as the considerations we’ve already discussed, you should calibrate your mindset. These images are first and foremost assets of the company. Like any other asset, they need to be sweated to repay the investment. This should mean that you are already thinking about the platforms they’ll be used on, how long the assets will live, the corpocracy of the image set and how they will help you stand out from your competitors. I believe passionately that after we have achieved the primary task of representing you (and that means that your friends and relatives would also recognise you) they should be different!

Tom Bull - Severn CiderTom Bull - Severn CiderTom Bull - Severn Cider Tom Bull - Severn Cider

I constantly tell people that the hardest thing in photography is to do something different. When I photograph music, I get followed around by other photographers like the Pied Piper. Rather than explore their own angles, some find it easier just to watch and copy someone else. Those of us who have original ideas will know that we just have to get used to it.

There is a real opportunity in this preparatory thought process to produce something different and distinctive – to begin to tell your story.

Dan Warren - Free Range WebFree Range Web, Bristol

Dan Warren - Free Range Web, Bristol

Free Range Web, Bristol Luke Doulton - Free Range Web, Bristol

Enforced absence from anything is always a time to take stock and reflect. As we sit in the middle of one of the worse health crises the world has faced in recent times, many of us find ourselves at home with spare time on our hands. If you are self-isolating, you may not feel like doing very much. Many of us though are self employed and either the orders have dried up with customers concentrating on other things or our business revolves around social interaction, rapidly becoming a fear inducing word.

Pete Bell - Bell GroupPete Bell - Bell GroupPete Bell chair of the Bell Group, Forest of Dean business. Pete Bell - Bell Group

The priority of course is how we can survive. But savvy business owners and company executives know that we will come out of this and so we need an eye to the future as well as to manning the pumps. The business landscape may look different at the end of all of this. There maybe fewer competitors with the reinvigorated market looking less crowded. It may be that a pool of previously employed people are now looking to begin on the road to self-employment. In any case when things do restart there is likely to be fierce competition for that “new” business. Who knows? No one it seems.  

Service, quality and difference, as ever will be a discriminating factor and the image that you portray to the world is an integral part of that. Do the right thing and make it interesting.

The photographer David Broadbent


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