I have often joked that it is my lot in life to be surrounded by fantastic photographers. In every season of life, photographers and their craft have influenced me.
My dad was my first exposure to life behind the lens. As I was growing up, he always had an at home studio set-up, often asking my sister and I to pose for him. His photography career stemmed beyond the hobbyist realm, and to this day, he has a very successful online stock portfolio and growing photography business. My sister caught the photography bug from him and has been dabbling in the skill for years. In college, while majoring in fine arts, I was surrounded by photography students. My first career move was interning at a photography company as their graphic designer where I ended up working full time after graduating.
To say that these people and experiences have left me with a profound appreciation for photography, would be an understatement, but it has also left with an understanding of the value of professional photography. As a designer, I can tell you that few things will bring down an otherwise solid brand as quickly as mediocre or bad photography. Below is an interview I had with my good friend and professional photographer, Shaye Fitzgerald, discussing the value of professional photography. Before she started working behind the camera, she was developing an eye for style and composition and building a skill set by editing photos. She has been working as a professional photographer at PHOCO for the last 4 years. She and the team at PHOCO are responsible for all the lovely images on this website!
How did you first get into photography?
I would say that I was always interested. Years ago, I had been following Patrick [my boss] on Facebook for awhile, and I asked him for a job, basically out of the blue. Then, I didn’t know anything about what I was doing. I started editing, and that’s when the desire to understand photography started. Also, the creative outlet it provides captivated me, and now I can’t live without it. But the interest was definitely there, the idea of capturing a moment, before I even knew what photography really entailed. It really became a passion was when I started working with PHOCO.
What does your process of working with clients look like?
Usually when someone approaches me about photography for their brand, I love to meet and get to know them first to see if we are a good fit, and I want to learn everything about their brand. I want to know what motivated them to start something, what they want to bring to the community and to the world, what they think is missing, and what they can provide.
When we're meeting, I also want to hear your ideas. I want to see things that you’ve liked, your color scheme, your logo. I want to see everything that makes up who you already are and how you want to raise the bar of your company by adding photography to it. I want to know your desired clientele so that we can reach them properly. If there’s a certain demographic you want to reach, we can fine-tune the photos to appeal to those people. If you don’t have a starting point or ideas for inspiration, then trusting me with that is also really important. Trust that I will deliver a good product and that even if you don’t have a direction, I can help with that.
What is one of your favorite shoots you’ve done for a company?
Rodelle Vanilla that was everything we wanted it to be. I was thrilled and the client is ecstatic about the photos. Another one that went really well was for Waltzing Kangaroo, which was product photography for a restaurant, so we had the atmosphere of the restaurant to capture as well, which was different than Rodelle where we just had the products.
What do you think made those shoots go so well?
Waltzing Kangaroo had their company’s identity nailed down beforehand. They knew exactly what they were looking for, and they are incredibly good at their craft. So when we came in, they had high standards for what they would provide to us to photograph, which is important. They also trusted us with the creative vision, which resulted in these beautiful photographs of, say a lamb pie. It’s an interesting thing to photograph, but they are breathtaking and the pie looks you could take a bite in the photo, which is just what they wanted.
Rodelle Vanilla was looking for an upgrade. They were revamping their website and stepping up their marketing game, so it was nice to bring something to the table that they were “wowed” with because they hadn’t had that in the past. They were upgrading from something that wasn’t doing it for them and we’re providing them with something they can be extremely proud to show as a reflection of their product.
We can work with you where you are to meet your needs. Sometimes we will work with someone who is just getting started, and sometimes when people just desire a more professional appearance, and we can accompany both.
What would you tell someone on the fence about hiring a photographer for their branding?
I think it’s along the same lines of when you’re starting your business, did you settle for creating a logo in Word? Or did you hire a professional because you knew it would be better? It’s kind of the same way with photos. If you snap a few on your phone, or maybe you even have a nice camera, you’ll get an image that probably works. But then you put it on your website, and if your website is really well designed, it’s going to stick out like a sore thumb. Professional photography provides a consistency and if you invest in professional photography, I think it shows every time you use the photos. I think it shows you invested in your product and your company. It is an investment, but one that I think essentially pays for itself.
I’ve had clients come up to me and say that the photography I was able to provide for their brand brings in more customers because it’s beautiful and desirable. I think it’s true that there’s a consistency and cohesiveness that even if people didn’t know that they are looking at this compilation of professional investments on your website, they would appreciate what they are looking at.