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Out of Order: Picture this, will you?
July 2015
by Randall C Willis  |  Email the author
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So, I just looked it up on Amazon.com. A Canon EOS Rebel 2000 is only $170. And the Nikon COOLPIX L330 is $205, but there are only three left in stock. But hey, budget might be an issue, so there’s always the Fujifilm FinePix AX655 for $50.
 
And these are just three of the amazing digital cameras available through one outlet. You can find better and you can find worse. You can find cameras with changeable lenses and various attachments. Tripods aren’t too expensive and are even poseable.
 
One of my hobbies is photography, and now that the ice jams of southern Canada have finally relinquished their hold on my driveway, rare is the day that I do not have my camera in tow, pointing blurrily at some poor creature along the waterfront. Of the hundreds of shots I will take in an outing, maybe 50 are worth cleaning up and five or so are actually quite good.
 
The magnificence of living in a digital photography era is that most laptop computers have software to help make the most myopic of us photographic geniuses. In fact, I would daresay that if you pecked at your cell phone or iPad for a few moments, you would find entire suites of freeware designed to make you look like a creative superstar.
 
Facebook pages, Twitter streams, Instagram walls and blogs are rife with images—well-taken and poor, color and black and white—of family vacations, local flora and fauna, entertainment events and lunch plates. And yet, strangely, when I talk to many companies, whether large or small, biotech or pharma, I am constantly amazed at how many do not have ANY photographs of their people or installations.
 
I know that it is trite to say that a picture is worth 1,000 words, but that doesn’t make it any less true. We’re all in business, whether we’re selling a product, a service or credibility (corporate and individual), and a big part of staying in business is marketing.
 
You want to put a good foot forward. But unless you’re selling shoes and socks, you might also want to put a good face forward.
 
And part of putting that face forward is having photographs and illustrations of what it is you do, and just as (or more) importantly, who you are. Otherwise, when we talk about you in DDNews, the article ends up with relatively generic stock image or an imageless pull quote.
 
(By the way, this is NOT a criticism of our editors and art directors who design a damned fine publication.)
 
OK, you might be saying: We’ll get some headshots done of our executive team and have a photographer shoot the front of our headquarters.
 
That’s a start.
 
I have to say, though, that without the signage, I don’t know that I’d be able to pick Roche’s headquarters out of a line-up when set against Novartis, Genentech, Amgen and Sanofi. And unless your CEO sits in a glass case all day, is a static headshot really the best way to highlight who she is and why we should listen to her?
 
I can only assume that your CEO and CFO interact with people throughout their days, so why not have a shot that reflects that? If your vice president of R&D has something to do with research and development, it would be nice to see him in a lab setting.
 
I completely appreciate that for intellectual property reasons, you want to be careful about what appears in your photographs, but I don’t see the harm in your company president standing over a laptop in animated discussion with a co-op student.
 
If you provide a product, can you find an interesting way to show your product in action. DDNews talks to your end-users, so show your system in action and save the generic robin’s-egg blue box with a 6-by-15 footprint shots for your catalogue.
 
If you provide a service, show your people in action (not servitude…that’s something completely different). Highlight your capacity to serve. Show how you think, again, while considering issues of IP.
 
Larger companies may have an internal bureaucracy that precludes someone walking around with a camera, but that’s where the smaller companies can highlight their versatility, their abilities to quite literally shoot from the hip (which should make for some interesting visual angles).
 
If you want, make it an internal photography competition for your employees and have them vote on the best photos (which you then vet through your lawyers before releasing).
 
Whatever you do, make it easier for our readers and your future partners, clients and customers to see and understand who you are as a company and as individuals. I think you’ll see a quick and positive response.
 
(Note to self: Get new photo for commentary. I haven’t looked like that in a decade.)

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