Photography is a Method of Communication

This image shows the size of the client’s product relative to a coin.
This shot was intended for European use.

Photography is a method of communication. Photographs can give someone technical details of a product or make a poetic statement. English is the same way: you can get an auto repair manual or a collection of sonnets. Obviously photographs are different than written text. Photographs can be examined much more quickly than a text that had the same level of information. Photographs are also much more attractive to the eye than text. So the content and the quality of any photograph a business uses can be critically important. Often the photographs will be the only part of a business communication that gets read, or the photographs will help bring the viewer to the text. Photographs are often the most important part of a business message.

The graphic nature of this image makes it effective at almost any size.

This image features the technical aspects of a studio while still giving a sense of the size.

A good business photograph has certain characteristics. First it tells a simple story. If you try to show too much in one image you end up showing nothing. You are an expert on your business; the viewer is not. The viewer can’t make out fine details of a 4X6 inch image on a screen; they will not work that hard. Second a good image is suited to the size that the viewer sees. I have a friend who is a fine art photographer. His images look good at 16X20 inches, they look fabulous at 30X40 inches, and they look lousy on my monitor. The monitor is just too small. So review the images as the intended viewer will see them. There are also technical details about the way that the color is recorded and the size. If you have multiple uses for an image you might need multiple copies of the file. It is best to specify your needs when you begin a project. Finally a good business photograph looks good in the final product. If your picture has pools of inky blackness where your subject is, it won’t work. Often a product or a space has to be lit very carefully to appear natural on the screen. Natural light is almost never the best light.

This uses an unusual angle and six lights to feature design and quality.

Because photographs are so important to your business communication it is often best to hire someone who makes photographs professionally. As digital cameras have become more common people feel that they can do this in house. And clearly, there are occasions where this will work. However a professional brings more than just creativity to the table. A good professional is a master craftsman, who brings a larger toolkit and more experience. I teach photography online, so I have worked with photographers from Oslo to Cairo. I can tell you that amateur photographers have very little lighting equipment. This is a great limiter, if you can’t control light you can’t make photographs, only take them. Second, making photographs requires different skills for different kinds of images. It has taken me a long time to become skilled using a microscope and it has also take a long time to become skilled photographing interiors. There was really no overlap from one to the other. If a photographer has skill at shooting weddings that does not mean that he/she has any particular skill at shooting architectural interiors. When you choose a photographer it is important to examine a portfolio. If you are going to make printed pieces, brochures and so on, be sure to examine such pieces done by the photographer. An online portfolio does not mean that the photographer can create files that are suitable for your print needs.

A good photographer should be willing to go anywhere for a shot!

Photography is a service business. A good photographer will work with you to create effective images for your company. A good photographer will have experience with situations similar to yours. The photographer should be a team member rather than some one you call after the project is designed. While this may add to costs, it can affect the value of the entire piece in a very positive way. You should look for a photographer who will give you a chance to be part of the shoot. You, or your personnel, have expertise the photographer should value. A photographer may also add considerable value to an image in post-production. Photoshop, or another program, may add a lot of time, and costs, to an image, but it can also make or break the image.

It is important to know that different photographers run their businesses in different ways. It is important to know exactly what you are buying. One photographer may sell you the image and allow you to use it in all ways for as long as you would like. Another may sell an image with specific rights for specific usages or a specific time. Just as it is important to know what kind of files you are buying, it is important to know how you can use them. Don’t make assumptions in this area. I spend time with each client discussing the details of the job before we begin. - John Siskin

John's web site:
John's blog:
John's classes:

-An Introduction to Photographic Lighting

-Portrait Lighting on Location and in the Studio

-Getting Started in Commercial Photography