What is a lifestyle shoot when it comes to your small business?
Product photos on a plain white backdrop are great for selling an item online. Potential customers can see the item clearly and make an informed purchase.
But, is that enough?
What about that initial feeling when they first visit your website or open up your Instagram? That can't be under estimated! It's the excitement and enthusiasm that drives sales.
What about the way you caption your photos and the words that describe your company's values? You're building an emotional connection with people that creates lifelong customers.
Lifestyle images connect you. They show a sweater wrapping you up by a cozy fire. They show your glasses when you set them down to enjoy breakfast after reading the paper. They show you on date night, escaping the kids. They show you in your earth-friendly t-shirt on your favorite hike.
What story connects you and your clients?
How will they use your signature product in their daily life? Or do they invest in it for special occassions?
Dig deep. Put yourself in your customers shoes and then show them with photos.
You'd be surprised how little prep you need to do for an in-home session. Catherine and I picked 2 spaces to create images. First up is the office. We created 3 different looks inside one small space!
We wanted some fun and colorful photos with match her previously created office flat lays. These all go together to support her marketing company, Bright Planning.
Bright Planning has a vintage flair with a cool logo and uses strong primary colors like blue and red. We moved a desk in front of her favorite bookshelf and created a beautiful mess with other beloved books from around the house. As you may have guessed, Catherine is also a writer outside of her marketing career. She and her partner, Brandon, are literary souls with many many books floating around their home.
The vintage typewriter is a nice touch too!
For the next look, we cleared the desk, changed shirts to create simple workspace portraits. Less styled images for Catherine's portrait.
Next we simply changed direction for images (in the same room!) of Catherine on her chaise just enjoying the quiet space. The hat beside her holds family memories so its a nice touch to personalize the portraits.
That's 3 different looks in one small room!
We wrapped up with a relaxed, lifestyle portrait on her screened in porch. We shot in just one corner so we didn't have to move a thing for these photos in preparation.
In-home sessions are some of my favorites because they reflect you, your favorite things and often where you work!
Don't make anything harder than it has to be. Running a small business is already hard, don't let stress and overwhelm add to that (unnecessarily).
How do photos of your service, product, team, store make a difference?
One less thing to do.
We all know social media is important these days... and why is that? Because it's FREE marketing. Images showing off your business on a consistent basis introduce you to your current and future clients.
Consistency is key because it keeps you at the forefront of customer's minds without nagging them via commercials or ads.
We all know how sophisticated the iPhone camera is getting. The images I can take using that phone blow my mind.
At first, that was a real bummer for me and fellow photographers. We've worked really hard to run a business that Apple could seemingly wipe out by the time we hit iPhone 10.
Is the really the case though?
Probably not. Photographers & all of our crazy equipment serve a purpose and can bring something to the table that iPhone (or Samsung, etc.) cannot. Let's get into it.
Understanding how light hits your subject cannot be "guessed" by an iPhone. The way light affects your subject from behind, the side and head on. The way light changes from room to room or sunrise to sunset. The different colors of light and how to edit appropriately... We plan shoots around the time of day, we choose locations based on how the lighting will affect that location, we know when to use artificial lighting, we're ready for all circumstances!
1. Styling food. Hot food, cold food, whole food, cooked food. It all acts differently and not everyone is equipped to manage it (melting ice cream? boring filet mignon with no interesting shape? how to incorporate ingredients into final dish image?).
2. Styling products. Some products are MADE to be photographed! They look good from every angle, they are simple in design and size. The colors are so perfect with this backdrop! How about those fidgety products that are wrinkly or super flat or boring colors, how do we bring those to life? Styling learned from trial & error plays a big role in successful photos.
3. Posing people. Creating flattering angles, accommodating for shyness, group photos with everyone smiling + eyes open. Creating those company portraits is no easy feat and we work to make them uniform, approachable and flattering.
There are soo many great programs and apps to edit out there, you can really do a lot from your phone or computer with little investment. What about when something completely unexpected happens? Someone in the group shot blinks so much that you never find a photo with everyone's eyes open. No phone app can fix that. Glare on sunglasses... in 780 images? Yikes. Professional editing software to the rescue!
Building a relationship with a photographer after 1-2 sessions is priceless. We hear your requests, your concerns and we adjust for them with every shot. We note your brand colors, the style of your company, the feel of your Instagram feed + Facebook page + website, the energy you put out into the world and the relationship with your clients. Believe it or not, that's all part of our preparation for a shoot and it produces results.
Under beautiful lighting with the perfect backdrop, the iPhone is your BFF. It will do all the work and you can create magic. And I hope you do! Photos are an important part of life so keep snapping' pics! But. What about when the only time you can shoot is just before dusk and you don't have enough light to use the new Depth Effect? Or at noon when everyone has shadows under their eyes?
Someone once asked me how did I know that I was ready to take on paying clients and I said it was when I knew I could produce good images in the crummiest setting. Unfortunately, we don't always have control over locations, timelines, models, products, props and that's when it's important to have the equipment and know-how to still produce results.
The strange obstacles we come across in every session and are unpredictable. Ruthless reflections on products, unprepared collaborators, delays in must-have-shot-lists, equipment failure, chaotic environments, strict timelines, boring products that need oomph, crazy prop requests, creativity slumps. With experience tackling all of these hurdles, we become more and more prepared for the next one!
An iPhone isn't a problem solver, a photographer is.
I'm not trying to convince you to hire me, I'm trying to convince you that investing in a professional when you're ready will be worth it because they're prepared and can't be replaced... just yet ;)
Purple is one of my favorite colors found in natural food. So many vegetables rock this vibrant hue to catch our eye. The purple in this cabbage became more and more intense as I peeled away layers; what started as a dusty purple-grey, ended in a deep eggplant tone.
Blueberries and blackberries have purple hues hidden within them and are not simply blue or black. The stalk of beets are a deep fuchsia that contrasts the greens perfectly.
The shades of purple in some of our favorite fruits and vegetables run vivid and appetizing.
With such a strong color, it's only fitting I chose a dark neutral for pairing. A mottled slate complements the vibrant purple tones instead of competing with it.
If you're interested in more purple and slate, give these IG feeds a try:
Similar color combinations if this one isn't doing it for you!
Navy & slate
Royal blue & slate
Purple & pale grey
Equally important is that all these images are cohesive. Even though there are two distinct concepts, there is still one brand for one business. My shooting and editing approach ensured that she'd get the best of both worlds and the collection would still blend.
For this small business shoot, we had a lifestyle approach (natural setting, candid feeling / not traditional headshots in a studio). We incorporated wardrobe changes, portraits, product shots, lifestyle shots and some environmental shots so she had a well rounded selection to build her website.
I can't wait to work with Sarah again (fingers crossed) as she continues to grow her business and services. Photography should grow with you and your business needs!
We live in a time where it's impossible to have no stance on important issues. That may sound harsh to those of us who live in the grey, hate drama and prefer to avoid yelling matches via Facebook but I really believe that the political climate and a generation of brave souls calling out authority has created a movement. I get it, I'm not plastering my opinions all over social media because I'm not interested in debates throughout my day either. And I do believe some things are private. But let me try to convince you of how this can work for you.
You don't have to be loud, you don't have to start arguments, you can ease into your stance in ways that make YOU feel good. These are the ways that will make your CUSTOMERS feel good too. Embrace the world of 2017 and let's look at some examples of those who are speaking out in their own way.
My hubby works in food & beverage. He works within the hotel industry which is not known for "green" practices. However, he puts a lot of energy into promoting and supporting local farmers and sustainable food options because he believes in that. He's able to marry his current job with his beliefs and stay involved in the community. He's been hired because of this involvement, his bosses love it. He's able to order from local farms and give them a seat at the table. Can you tell I'm proud?
I have a great friend who is a social media consultant. He is incredibly engaged on social media platforms and within the community, a well-known guy. He also has a strong liberal stance that he doesn't shy away from, continuously standing up for minorities on some platforms yet keeping it more subtle on other platforms. He chooses when and how to use his voice to speak his mind and (hopefully) educate others.
Fox and Fir Design creates fun graphic tees and stickers. Each design benefits a cause, often environmental. Proceeds are donated accordingly. They believe in small + consistent steps to fight climate change, their whole brand is built around it. You better believe they're attracting the right folks as customers.
The Cartorialist is a lovely artist/illustrator who's work is often inspired by high fashion and it-girls. She recently created a limited print of artsy boobs (you read that right) to support Planned Parenthood. These are tumultuous times for PP and she wants to speak out + raise money on their behalf. Her entire brand isn't built around it but she used a one-off opportunity to do what feels right.
Those are just 4 examples and there are many more. You'll start noticing it as you keep an eye out for it. Smalls businesses + entrepreneurs are being heard. They're attracting the right customers and repelling the wrong ones because of it (a Jasmine Star-ism).
Baby step into it or scream it from the rooftops, either way just go for it! Be silly with it (my IG stories for example) or write a thoughtful post on your Facebook page or keep it only on your blog. Grow your business because you're a unique individual with somethin' to say and, trust me, there's someone out there who agrees with you and will applaud your bravery.
(Photos from a dreamy event designed & hosted by Lucky Penny Creative)
© Chelsea Lane Photography 2013-2017
All rights reserved.