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Commercial Photography: 5 Things Your Graphic Designer Wishes You Knew About Photographs

by Deborah Proctor

In this increasingly visual world, where photography is key to graphic design in marketing, we wanted to better understand how to make a lasting impression with graphic design photography. Callie Reger, a graphic designer at a marketing agency that specializes in direct marketing in both digital and print media, agreed to share her knowledge and insight. Callie's work involves large companies with existing marketing teams that tap into her firm's niche strengths, as well as smaller businesses that use the firm as consultants for every aspect of their business marketing strategy.

"Choosing images for client campaigns is OUR NUMBER ONE DAILY STRUGGLE," Callie explained. "Traditional as well as social media platforms like Pinterest and Facebook demand strong photography and  graphic design that is equally about appearance as it is about functionality. Yet, designers rarely get quality client-provided photography."

Callie shared these FIVE COMMON MISTAKES that graphic design clients - large and small - make when submitting marketing photographs:

1) Sending low quality photos taken from their smart phones or pocket digital cameras
"The low quality of these images makes them a poor choice for any application. Ideally, a graphic designer wants a TIFF file, at least 300 dpi, that will facilitate any needed retouching and color correction and still maintain a quality image. JPEGS have been compressed to reduce the file size of the image — retouching can still be done but there is not as much detailed information.  We can always compress an image, but we can't enhance what isn't there."

2) Pulling a generic image off a "Google search"
"Internet images are a very low quality. Even more importantly, though, 
you never know where those images came from - or whether you can obtain a license to use them commercially." You certainly don't want to be the children's facility that inadvertently used the photo of an abducted child on their marketing flyer. (Yes - this actually happened!)

3) Believing that Photoshop can fix EVERYTHING
"Photoshop® is a powerful program, however it has its limitations when working with poorly composed, compressed, or low resolution images. We can usually crop things out and adjust the image but we can't magically reattach limbs or rebuild a structure that has been left out of the shot."

4) Using stock photography where custom photography would be more effective
"When our client does not provide a collection of quality images suitable for different layouts, we can use images from stock photo agencies. However, a generic stock photo, though taken by a professional, may not be an accurate representation of our client's actual situation. Stock imagery might connect with the consumer on the direct mail piece, but not match their expectations when they walk in the door. There is also the risk of creating confusion in the minds of potential clients by using a photo that one of your competitors may also use."

5) Thinking professional custom photography is too expensive
"When the goal is to sell the uniqueness of our client to the consumer, it is often more cost effective to hire a photographer to create a custom collection of images. A professional photographer has the technical skill to use the elements of art and well staged lighting to carefully craft high quality marketing images that will set your business apart from the competition."

When asked to share the one piece of advice she would give her clients if they want a good graphic design marketing piece, Callie replied,"To be seen as a professional, it is important to create a professional first impression...It's worth the investment to hire a professional photographer who will create striking, high quality photography that will translate well to print marketing materials and web applications and  thus attract clients."

We thank Callie for taking to time to share these tips for selecting images for future graphic design marketing pieces.

Thinking about your commercial photography needs? Contact us today for a consultation - we can help you stand out from your competitors and create a lasting impression for your customers.