Your portrait is a critical part of your branding strategy.

Busy business owners often question the need to have a great public relations portrait of themselves. But in today's incredibly connected and visual culture often the face of a business owner or key employee is the critical first impression potential customers will experience.  When people take the initiative to look for products and services they want to know about the companies with which they are considering doing business.  Most people browsing a website to research a purchase drill down into the site looking for clues that will tip their decision in one way or another. The more important or costly the purchase the deeper they will drill for visual and written information.

They are mostly looking for some sort of human connection that will resonate with them.  A look, an attitude, a gesture or a genuine smile.

The image above is of the CEO of an international hotel chain. The image is warm and welcoming.  Almost playful. The environment symbolizes an archetype of a palatial and well appointed hotel lobby. Altogether the elements combine to create a distinct visual marketing message. It supported their brand for a number of years.  And it did so in multiple media.

Businesses have an opportunity to augment and nurture a brand identity with every piece of advertising they create. But they only have the opportunity to make a positive first impression with the materials they put in front of potential customers the very first time someone clicks on their site or opens up a brochure.  People respond to faces.  They unconsciously infer ideas and attributes to the company that the people pictured represent.  It's powerful marketing.  And it's powerful because it's authentic.  It's human-to-human marketing.

Using a well crafted image of a CEO in company advertising implies a promise or warranty of the value proposition. In a way the executive is giving you his or her assurance that they product or service will be good.  Portraits are part of the brand strategy.  And it may be the part that works best. Images of your people are multi-lingual and they work hard 24/7.

Professional photographers would be wise to consider the potential value their intellectual property adds to the expression of a client's brand.  If we accurately add up the primary and secondary value of a well done and enduring photograph it would be a simple task to justify our charges and to ask for the ample time, and "buy in" we'd like to have to create exceptional work.


Being out where the photos are is a good strategy for taking photos.

It's been a great weekend to be alive and to be a photographer.  At least for me, here in Austin.  Belinda and I celebrated our 27th wedding anniversary,  I watched Ben run well in a 5K race.  I shot a wonderful job on Saturday evening for a long time and very appreciative client.  Belinda, the dog and I had a long walk this morning and breakfast all together at Trianon Coffee House.

Then I headed downtown to see what the Austin Art Festival was all about.  I expected to be underwhelmed but I went away feeling really positive about the art I saw and really happy to live in a town that lives its art.  The city blocked off several major streets and a bridge for the art festival and artists from all over the U.S. were there.

I strolled around with a camera and made candid images of people that I found interesting. I think the gentleman in the image above was one of the artists who had a tent in the show.  He was taking a break in a section set aside for food and refreshments. He was engaged in conversation with a friend but he looked up at me.  I raised my eyebrows and my camera.  He gave me a small nod and went back to his conversation.  I shot ten very quick frames (not hard to do with an a77 on continuous high), smiled and walked away.  When I looked at the images later this afternoon I was very please with all ten in the series.  This one seems to catch him just as he's about to speak.  And I like that.

I made the image with a Sony a77 camera and a 55 to 200mm Sony DLT zoom lens.  I tend to keep the aperture of most of my lenses near wide open and shoot in aperture priority.  The aperture was f5.6 at 1/800th of a second.  ISO 400. I like the contrast the man's hat makes with the bright area behind him and I love the tilt of his head.

I used the camera's black and white function, which I think is pretty darn good, but it always needs just a bit more contrast and a bit more black.  Reminds me of Tri-X, if I go ahead and add in a little grain.