By Stewart Gandalf
Today, healthcare brands have more options for photography and videography than ever. For many situations, hiring professionals such as a professional photographer, production company, or videographer is best.
In other cases, you and your team can use a high-quality smartphone camera, affordable software programs, and inexpensive starter equipment to quickly, inexpensively, and easily capture excellent photos and videos.
Determining whether a professional approach, a DIY (DIY) effort, or anything in between is best depends largely on your business goals, desired aesthetic, timeline, and budget.
In this post I share updated recommendations for getting the most out of a professional photo shoot.
But before we get into our tips, here’s why you should start and organize your own image library — if you haven’t already.
Why you need a digital picture library
While you can undoubtedly use stock photos in your marketing materials (eg, websites, social media, brochures, newsletters, etc.), so can your competitors, who may select the same image.
That’s why I always recommend building a library of brand images.
Keep in mind that your image library may also contain manipulated stock photos.
We see this as a low-cost middle ground option that provides additional ownership/property and works to build brand recognition.
Whether you’re using manipulated stock photos or custom images, I recommend building a library of branded images for your marketing collateral.
A custom library:
- Creates consistent branding, quality and tone
- Represents real doctors and staff
- Promotes leading-edge technology and equipment
- Accurately portrays your brand’s story
- Increases conversion rates
- Keep in mind that people are more likely to read through when you break up copy sections with engaging, contextually relevant images. Marketer Jeff Bullas Says Articles With Captivating Photography Receive 94% more views than those without.
With your cohesive image library in mind, here are some of our best insights on planning and executing a successful photo shoot.
19 Creative Director Secrets For Your Next Photoshoot
High quality custom images are invaluable marketing tools. Planning and executing a top-notch photo shoot can represent you and your company as professional, credible, welcoming, and an appropriate choice for healthcare consumers.
Showcasing high-quality, compelling photography on your website, ads, and marketing materials can engage your audience, differentiate yourself from the competition, and tell your brand story.
1. Know your target audience
When planning and conceptualizing your photo shoot, it is imperative to keep in mind your target audience and the demographics you may want to target in the future.
For example, if your target audience is suburban men and women in their 40s and 50s, make sure to reflect that demographic in your photos rather than younger generations and cityscapes.
It’s also essential to review the types of photos your competitors are using and strive to make them better.
2. Determine current and future needs
It is important to consider your current or immediate needs and any future applications to save time and money. Think about how and where you will use new photos in your marketing efforts. Try to treat as many people, places, and things as is practical.
What is your company mission and how do you visually express that concept? What is your brand story and how do you want to share that message with your audience?
Translating concepts into a visual expression is perhaps one of the most challenging preparation steps. The core idea is to identify the benefits and super benefits that consumers want you to deliver.
4. Tell a story
Visual elements communicate quickly and can easily be part of narrative imagery. Which photos show a caring cause and/or people interacting with people? Is there a beginning-mid-end sequence that communicates a storyline?
5. Seek professional help
An experienced, professional photographer brings several benefits.
First, they have all the high-end equipment – cameras, lights, reflectors – and know how to use it optimally.
In addition, a professional will help plan, detect (and avoid) potential problems, and anticipate getting maximum results with the greatest efficiency.
Remember that potential patients are more likely to click away from your website if you don’t have a solid design with high quality photography†
6. Imagine the environment
In addition to the head-and-shoulders “pictures of people,” you should add images that reveal the exterior and interior of your facilities. Seeing locations and environments in the real world reduces the unknown and helps demystify the patient experience.
7. Lighting is essential
Lighting is an important ingredient in creating beautiful, well-exposed photos. When shooting indoors, make the most of natural, diffused light by placing your subject near a window or other natural light source.
If natural light is too bright or not available, try a different time of day or opt for artificial studio lighting.
Assuming you’re working with a professional photographer, they should have professional lighting equipment.
For outdoor photos of signage, facilities or staff, avoid direct sunlight. Direct sunlight is harsh, making your subject squint and creating harsh shadows – instead you can time your shots early in the morning or around sunset.
Many outdoor photographers prefer to shoot during the ‘golden hour’, the last hour before sunset and the first hour after sunrise. These times provide optimal, warm, diffused lighting and make it easier to take beautiful outdoor photos.
8. Be selective
Plan to take lots of photos, confirm they are relevant and attractive, and communicate your needs. It’s better to select one great photo from a dozen options than to be stuck with limited options.
9. Get everyone to sign a photo release
Before your photographer takes pictures, a current and signed “model release”, “photo release” or “personal release agreement” is a must. Simple model release forms are available online, but I recommend talking to your legal counsel about HIPAA or other regulations to ensure your photos can be used as needed in your online or offline marketing efforts.
10. Schedule ‘lifestyle’ shots
Think carefully about how you can illustrate doctors and staff doing their day-to-day work. What are the ‘in action’ service photos that reveal the culture, personality and environment without being ordinary or boring?
11. Add Key Technologies
What facilities, technology, or products help your services represent or benefit to patients? Are these unique to your company, location or market? Is this today’s state-of-the-art equipment that sets you apart from the competition?
12. Streetview Photos
Include photos of the front of your buildings, outdoor signage, and/or a pedestrian-level view from the street. These images can orient a new visitor and are useful to include on a website location page.
13. Take Head and Shoulders Photos
Sometimes the best “headshots” come from a slightly wider composition – with room for cropping. Think about how profile pictures of you and your staff (everyone, really) can come from everyday activities.
14. Vary the wardrobe
Plan to take a lot of photos with about two changes of clothes. Ideally, photos should include lab coats and suits or professional clothing.
15. Hire a hair and makeup professional
A completely “normal and natural” appearance almost always requires careful preparation for both men and women. Have your hair and makeup done professionally. Think of a haircut a day before for men or a make-up / hair salon for women.
16. Remind your subjects to smile
A casual, friendly and welcoming look comes through with a simple but genuine smile. This is always suitable for reducing anxiety, but is especially helpful for medical specialties that can be ‘scary’.
17. Follow these simple but important rules
Tell your subjects in advance not to wear flashy prints or patterns, as well as not to use too many accessories. (These distract with “visual noise.”)
18. Hire a Graphic Designer
A graphic designer can take your high-quality custom photos to the next level by including custom graphic elements (e.g. marketing messages, infographics, charts, statistics, etc.) to promote your products and services.
They can also take average or mediocre photos and enhance them with cropping, filters, etc.
19. Other Simple But Important Tips
Eliminate all visual clutter in the frame. Even a cluttered desk can be a visual and mental distraction from what’s important. You want your business to look its best.
When appropriate, take casual photos, such as casual corporate events or activities.
Images that are “behind the scenes” can be interesting and good fuel for social media.
High quality images are invaluable marketing tools. Planning and executing a top-notch photo shoot can represent you and your practice as professional, credible, welcoming, and an appropriate choice for patients.
If you are looking for a marketing agency and production team to assist with larger projects such as television commercials or corporate videos, I invite you to Contact us†