A picture is worth a thousand words


That’s right – a picture is worth a thousand words. A thousand swear words. 

Sourcing a great photo to accompany a media release, social media post, website blog story or brochure copy has instigated many a ‘bloody hell’ at HMC HQ.

That’s because many companies simply don’t prioritise their photo library, which results in only inadequate, unpublishable, embarrassingly poor pictures on file.

This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make as an organisation. Great photography plays an important role in helping you build your brand, tell your story and cement your reputation.

I find it ironic that companies don’t prioritise keeping an updated and quality photo library, when every day, all day we live in a visual world. The vast majority of us prioritise visual imagery in our personal lives, so why not at work?

How many photos have you taken on your phone this week? Selfies, a beautiful sunset, your dog, your kids, your cat… your kids – you get it.  And why?  Because photos are important to you.  Sharing a great photo brings moments and memories to life in a way that written and spoken words can’t do alone.

A Getty Images photographer who spoke at a PR conference a few years ago said their research showed a media release has a 45 percent greater chance of being picked up if you send a great photo along with it. Plus, who reads anything on social media that contains screeds of writing and no image? No one.

Some of the worst photos our team has received over the years include ones like a moment from a farmer field day that is nothing but the backs and bums of 40 women.  Or, a few times a month, we receive the classic ‘head and shoulders’ shot against a dirty white office wall amidst very poor lighting. 

Another common one is 10-15 people in a straight line, all in fig leaf poses taken so far away you can’t make out any faces. These photos do not tell a story, people. They only serve to increase the monetary value of the HMC office swear jar.

It’s never too late to get started developing your company’s photo library. So, if I’ve convinced you it might be worthy doing, here are a few tips to get you started.

Start with the professionals
Build into your budget some resource to get at least one professional photo shoot done each year. Sit down with your photographer and plan the shoot really carefully to maximise their time and capture important shots you know you’ll use throughout the year.

Having professional photography at your fingertips will increase the professionalism of your brand and take your communication to a new level.  The image quality alone sends your audience a positive message.

Invest in equipment
Most organisations can’t afford to call in a professional photographer more than a few times a year. So, it pays to invest in a great office camera. We bought a Canon digital camera a few years ago and I’m continually amazed at the great photos and videos it takes.

Categorise logically
Once you start building up your photo library, you need to be able to find photos quickly when you need them.  So, ensure you categorise them in a logical way. You might find filing them by year is a good place to start, and then perhaps by project or location. Change file names on each picture so you can easy skim through your files without having to actually view each image. This will save you heaps of time.

Refresh regularly
When you find you start using the same few photos again and again, it’s time to refresh. Getting into a regular routine – annually, semi-annually, quarterly – of gathering new photography will help keep your imagery updated and relevant to what’s happening in your business.

Make photography second nature
The best advice I can give you is to make corporate photography second nature. Every time you have an important event or milestone, photography should be a priority not an afterthought.  It should be built into your budget, not a ‘nice to have.’


About Author

Heather Claycomb is director of HMC Communications, a Hamilton-based, award-winning public relations agencys.