“The clothes make the man”

It’s an old saying that gets to the heart of the truth: Appearances matter a lot. From the clothes on your back to the sign in front of your business, people are always judging.

We know this instinctually. We fill our homes with mirrors so we can check how we look to others. We spend hours thinking about our businesses logos and what they say to potential clients. So why wouldn’t we agonize in the same way over the photos on our websites?

The Power of Images

We’ve known forever that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” Think of the defining images of World War II: the raising of the flag at Iwo Jima and the returning sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square on V-J day. The triumph of a hard-fought campaign, the relief of the torture of war.

We use images as shorthand for entire eras, like the image of a migrant mother and her children at a camp during the Depression, and as shorthand for feelings, like the images that people post in social media comments to sum up how they feel about a post.

Why are they so powerful? We’re hardwired for it. You have to learn language, so your brain has to decode things you write and hear before you can understand them. There’s a barrier between you and comprehension. Even if you’re really good at getting past that barrier, it’s there.

But images? No one needs to be told what a picture means. You understand what you see immediately.

The Mistakes Most Companies Make

Few firms devote the resources they need to get the right photos for their website and marketing materials. Most just make it the job of someone on the staff: “Hey Jim, after you’re done laying out the flagstone for that patio, be sure to take a photo of the finished product.” Does that laborer know how to compose a photo? Does he know what kind of lighting will make the picture pop? Does he even have a camera, or is he using a smartphone?

There’s a reason quality cameras cost thousands of dollars. And why people take photography classes as well.

The fact is, the images on your website play a huge role in the sales process. Bigger than your tagline, content, product packages and probably everything except your prices. People want to see themselves in your photos. They want to be inspired by your vision. They want to picture your service improving their home in the same way.

You’ll never get that quality with amateur photos. Composition techniques such as object balancing and leading lines can make any project look great, if you know how to use them. Lighting can turn a drab scene into an eye-popping one, but you need the know-how and equipment to make it happen.

Quality photographers are more accessible than ever. The price of good photography equipment has come way down over the years, and professionals have to compete with the semi-professionals on price. There is absolutely no excuse for taking photos yourself in this day and age.