The Big Picture: Why Photos Ensure Web Credibility
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Did you know that while it takes an average of 60 seconds for someone to read about 200-250 words, it takes only 1/10th of a second for our brain to digest and understand an image? The average internet user spends only 10 seconds or less on a single webpage, and only 5.59 seconds reading written content on a website's main page. In general, web content (e.g. websites, social media, press posts, and blogs) with relevant images gets 94% more views than content without relevant images. That means if you've got ANY page on your website that's all words and no pictures, only 6% of visitors will stay on that page and actually read it. In other words, your potential clients would rather SEE what you're all about than READ what you're all about.
Raise your hand if you have ever submitted a budget for creating new marketing materials and heard groans from your partners. It's not an easy task to get partners to agree to spend money on marketing, because if you're doing it right, it's a long tail game with hardly any immediate gratification. You must spend weeks, months, and years in your marketing workshop to build, update, and repeat the messages that create and strengthen your brand. And what works and what doesn’t work to bring in new clients isn’t always trackable and can sometimes seem randomized and unpredictable. So, it can be difficult to get the powers that be to write a check for something that isn't as black and white as other company expenses like coffee for the breakroom.
But we all know that marketing is the only thing keeping more work coming in, because marketing, in a nutshell, is every single written, visual, and verbal message about your law firm that reaches the eyes and ears of your potential clients. Building your firm's brand and promoting its great reputation through the marketing materials you create (such as the firm's website, advertisements, press releases, and social media posts) are what bring existing clients back to the firm, and gets those elusive new clients to call.
In our 15 years of taking photos for Chicago's top law firms, here are the most common requests we've gotten for marketing images:
- Professional Headshots: We can all agree that first impressions matter, but as times change and we do so much more of our work virtually through email and phone calls than in person, sometimes the first and even the only time you will "meet" someone is through their photo. Think about how many people you work with closely over email, such as vendors, clients, or fellow ALA members, whom you have never actually met in person. Your only interaction with them visually could be the avatar of their face that pops up in their email or on their Linkedln profile. Now imagine that this is a potential client's experience with your law firm. They're on your website for the first time or reading a blurb about a founding partner in a local magazine or blog. You're going to need a photo of that attorney that in only 1/10th of a second can portray knowledge, experience, confidence, and warmth. A personal first impression that leaves a viewer feeling like they have met this attorney in the real world.
- Group Photos: Just like a headshot doesn't only show the world what your clients look like, photos of practice groups are a way to portray stability and assurance. A great group photo shows the firm's strength as a team and its solidarity. To a client, it's a great visual message that they're not getting the knowledge and experience of just one person, but that a whole team of professionals.
- Action Shots: Photos of attorneys in action are also a great visual representation of what your firm does for its clients. Peppering your website with images of your attorneys conferencing with each other around a boardroom table, pleading a case in a trial, or researching and analyzing documents will plant the seeds of service in a client's mind, helping them picture your people working hard for them.
Now that you understand why photography is such an important part of a law firm's marketing plan, how do you choose the right photographer? With so many photographers to choose from, it can start to feel like comparing apples to apples. Here's a quick list of things to look for and questions to ask your photographer before booking:
- Specialty: Does the photographer specialize in headshots? And do they have experience with corporate headshots for large groups? Sometimes photographers are known for wearing many hats and accepting any gig that keeps them shooting. Some can shift from one photography category to the next pretty seamlessly, but others have trouble, so make sure your photographer has experience specifically in headshots for companies and that they can prove their experience in their portfolio. If all you see are photos of weddings on their website, be careful of trusting them with corporate or commercial photography; they may not have done much of this.
- Skill: Check the photographer's portfolio. Do the headshots in their portfolio reflect skill in posing and coaching so that everyone looks their best and most relaxed? Make sure their portfolio shows both consistency in skill and a range of looks to prove that they have listened to each client’s needs and crafted an image for their use that flatters them best.
- Licensing: Sometimes staff headshots and corporate portraits can fall under a "commercial photography" category. Talk to your photographer before your session to make sure your shoot includes licensing to use the photos however you need. Standard copyright law assigns the copyright to the photographer, so a license needs to be prepared in order for you to use, publish, or alter the photos after they've been taken. Ask your photographer what the license would include and make sure there are no hidden fees for you to use, publish, and place the images in marketing pieces, or if there is a fee, that it is reasonable and understood beforehand.
- Organization: When putting together a group headshot, the hardest parts are scheduling time slots for each individual, finding and prepping a room for the photos, and figuring out how to get the people who can't be there on that day also photographed. Ask your photographer if they will help you make a schedule for the day, so each person is photographed quickly and easily, and keep workday disruption is at a minimum. And does your photographer have a plan for getting matching photos for stragglers, people who call in sick on photo day, or when you add new staff in the months and years ahead?
- Personality: Talk to your head shot photographer before booking them and introducing them to your staff. Make sure they're friendly, professional, and can put people at ease, because their interaction with the photographer will show on their faces in their photos. We've actually heard a surprising number of stories from clients who switched to us from past photographers because they didn't present themselves professionally or they made people feel uncomfortable in one way or another.
- Price: Don't be surprised or discouraged if you find a wide range in photography pricing while you're researching photographers for your project. Photographers price their services on a lot of factors, including their own costs, skill level, time, and availability. There isn't much of a set industry standard or rulebook for pricing, so just make sure all of the options in the package are spelled out ahead of time, and ask how the pricing will change if you add or remove people from the shoot or change the scope of the project.
Michelle Kaffko is the founder of Organic Headshots, a Chicago photo studio, and has been a portrait and commercial photographer for 15 years
Organic Headshots is a Chicago photo studio specializing in staff headshots, corporate portraits, and professional marketing images since 2005.