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Photographs to Avoid in Your Marketing

You have a great idea for a marketing campaign and all you need is a photograph for marketing it. You grab your phone and shoot a quick picture. Or you search online looking for a photo without a big watermark on it. There is an abundance of pictures to choose from but sometimes your choices might be slightly off. 

Using the wrong photograph for your marketing may communicate a completely different message than you originally intend. Or, just make your message really unclear. In this article you will learn what types of photographs to avoid in your marketing.

Avoid these photographs in your marketing

Don’t use images that are too busy, out of focus, or low resolution

You really like a particular photo your friend took with their phone. However, if it is too busy or too fuzzy, it is just hard to see. People may not get the message and may even get irritated because of the lack of quality of the image. This will reflect poorly on your company and will give off an unprofessional vibe from your viewers first impression.

Make every photograph you use online and/or in your printed marketing clean and clear. Images need to be in sharp focus right at the area of interest.  Peoples eyes should be in focus or a wine bottle, the label, sharp focus. Your photographs should also be simple and not cluttered. If there is too much going on in the background it will detract your viewers eyes from the primary point of interest. In this case, the message you are trying to get across could be lost or ineffective.

Finally, your photographs should have the proper resolution for your uses. You may have gotten photographs from other people and did not realize they sent you a low resolution image. Or maybe you’ve sized and reused an image so many times you’ve lost track of the original. Really small images will look pixelated in your presentation when you go larger than what the image will print. Common rule of thumb: pixel dimensions ÷ 250 = largest size in inches at which you can print. Contact me for a more detailed explanation, I love to geek out on tech stuff like this.

Don’t use a selfie, snapshot or your pet as your business portrait

I know some of you are saying “hey I’ve seen some good selfie’s”. That may be true, but most of them look like exactly what they are, a selfie. If you’re trying to be taken seriously as a business person, don’t do it. Keep in mind using a selfie or a snapshot in your social media posts is totally fine, because it is the casual side of your business. However, using a photograph for marketing on a business card or on your About Page where you are representing yourself as a professional is not the best impression you want to give. Get a professional headshot for that part of your business.

Don’t use a portrait that is outdated, poorly photographed or too casual.

You may have had a professional portrait taken 10 years ago. If you’re hair or clothes look out of date then people assume you’re out of style. Not just in your wardrobe but in your business. An outdated business sense may not be what people are looking for. People want to do business with people who are sharp, innovative, and serious to work with you. Plus, they may be pretty surprised when they see you in person and you’re 10 years older.

Bad lighting can actually distort what you really look like. Your portrait should be properly posed, composed and lit. The correct lighting will flatter you and make you more recognizable. It should be even and soft with subtle shadows.

Too casual! What are you lazy or just arrogant? Always consider who is looking at your image and what message you are sending them. If your ideal customer wants to hire a top notch carpet cleaner a casual look may be okay. However, a serious pose and a professional presentation will make you more hirable.

Don’t use images that are copyrighted

There are photographs are all over the internet and social media. If you use another persons photograph for marketing you better know you have the right to use that image. There are many stock agencies online that offer royalty free images. However, if your organization has events it is worth the investment to hire a professional photographer. Just be clear what you want.  Photographs of the event itself can produce great images to market future events. You are selling the experience. People should be happy and having fun. While you have a professional at your location ask them to shoot details of your venue and/or organization. This can include products, the exterior of the building, the grounds and people. All of those images can be used in multiple campaigns. Use them on your social media, blogs, printed marketing, trade shows and more.

Have you seen really bad photos in peoples marketing?  We would love to hear about it. The more we know what does and does not work the better. Please share your stories.


If you need help marketing yourself or your business with professional photographs Contact Us Today to see how we can help you. We are available for your next event.
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Gina Cinardo
Gina Cinardo
I'm Gina Cinardo, an enthusiastic portrait photographer specializing in helping driven professionals become branded online. Wether they want a fantastic headshot or just photographed being in the moment. I make people look polished and amazing in their portraits. With over 25 years’ experience as a photographer I understand the importance of the first impression. I get so much joy seeing people feel good about themselves and succeeding. IIf you’re ready for a portrait that showcases you as an expert at what you do call me today.

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