Geri L. Dreiling, Esq.
I hate having my picture taken, and the thought of sitting for a headshot fills me with dread. I know I’m not alone – many of my clients feel the same way
But cutting corners when it comes to your photo is a mistake. Your image is an integral part of your brand, and a picture is indeed worth a thousand words. The images on a page capture a reader’s attention first, whether the page is on the Internet, in a print medium or part of a law firm newsletter.
For this reason the “Let’s just get a camera — we can line everyone up against the wall and click” method is not the best option for your legal marketing needs. The result of the amateur approach often lies somewhere between a mug shot and the annual school photo.
This week I’ve asked Jennifer Silverberg, an award-winning photographer whose work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Elle magazine, the Riverfront Times and numerous other publications during her 15-year professional career, to share her tips on how to make your shoot a successful one.
Here are four of Silverberg’s recommendations:
- Identify your preferred photography style.
- Research photographers to find the right fit for you.
- Review the photographer’s portfolio.
- Have a pre-shoot meeting to finalize the details.
1. Identify your preferred photography style.
Should your photo be formal or casual? Do you prefer a newsy/editorial feel or the portrait style? Perhaps you want several types of photos that can be used in different contexts as part of your overall legal marketing strategy. These are questions that should be explored before, not after, a shoot.
“The type of photo a lawyer chooses will depend on a variety of factors,” says Silverberg. “It will depend on how they see themselves and how they want their clients to see them. It is important to think about your audience.”
A lawyer who represents corporations may prefer photos that are more formal. A lawyer who represents labor interests may be drawn to a rolled-up-sleeves photo that conveys a sense of accessibility. An attorney who represents tech startups may want an image that is more cutting-edge.
For this post, the St. Louis law firm Carey, Danis & Lowe has graciously agreed to allow us to demonstrate the different photography styles by using some of the photos taken of the firm’s lawyers. The copyrighted images were taken by Silverberg as part of a Legal Media Matters project and may not be reproduced without permission.
This photo is an example of a formal portrait:
This image depicts a more relaxed portrait style:
This image and the photo featured at the beginning of this blog post are editorial-style photos:
2. Research photographers to find the right fit for you.
Taking the time at the beginning to find a photographer whose style appeals to you will go a long way toward ensuring that you’re happy with the final product.
“You’re investing in your image,” says Silverberg. “Photographers have different styles, so it’s important to select one who matches your tastes. When styles and tastes don’t match, it can create a frustrating situation for both the photographer and the client.”
For someone looking for a photographer, Silverberg says, several options are available:
- American Society of Media Photographers – The trade association’s website has a search function that helps you track down respected industry professionals.
- Google search – Try searching for photographers by pairing your geographic location with such search criteria as “portrait photographer,” “editorial photographer” or “corporate photographer.”
3. Review the photographer’s portfolio and Photoshop work.
When reviewing a portfolio, Silverberg recommends asking, “Am I drawn to these images?”
If so, you may have found your fit. If not, ask to see more work or continue your search.
It is also important to ask about processing. For every hour a photographer spends on a shoot, he or she often spends at least that much time, if not much more, polishing the image in Photoshop.Photoshop can erase the dark circles left from late nights preparing for trial, exchange a cloudy day for a sunny one, and get rid of unsightly computer cords and exit signs.
“You want a polished image, but it shouldn’t be overprocessed,” Silverberg advises. “You want it to be an authentic image and not a glamour shot.”
4. Set up a preshoot meeting.
A meeting before the sessions helps in two ways, notes Silverberg: “It gives me an opportunity to have a conversation with the creative team to go over the images and the feel the team aims to convey,” she says.
If the shoot will be done in the firm, a preshoot meeting also gives the photographer a sense of the layout and lighting, which in turn will dictate the type of equipment he or she brings.
Your Image as a Legal Marketing Investment
A photo shoot with a professional is an investment of time and money that adds value to your legal marketing effort. No matter how polished your content is, if your images are amateurish the overall impact of your legal marketing efforts will be diminished.
Now it’s your turn. Whether you’re a lawyer, photographer or legal marketing consultant, do you have any tips to help make a photo shoot a success?
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