The Magic of the Commercial Photographer

We have all fallen into the photographer’s trap of seeing an advertisement of a product only to meet it face to face with disappointment. So why is that? In many instances, food photography NEVER truly represents the item served. Substitutes are used all the time. Turkeys are painted, ice cream is mashed potatoes, ice is Lucite, etc. That hamburger you just had dropped into a paper bag never could look like it did in the photo.

When it comes to products, the item you’ve just purchased looked amazing in the catalog or online and now that you have it…not so much. Why? Because you’re not face to face with it in the studio. The lighting, camera angle, lens and retouching are never part of your one-on-one experience with the item. Most likely you’re also not viewing it from the same angle as the camera.

Is this a deceptive practice? Absolutely not.

Although there is a tremendous amount of retouching and studio magic in food photography, day to day product photography is quite a bit less deceiving. The image you see is close to 100% of what the item is. There may be a cord that’s been removed or a highlight enhanced but it is what it is. What you’re not taking into account is all the set-up, backgrounds, added colors, depth-of-field, lighting and camera angles involved in the image capture process.

Looks can be deceiving
The Bugatti Veyron Supercar shown here is an amazing engineering feet. 1001 horsepower and the ability to go faster than any reasonable thinking human should go. It was called the Veyron and now has been replaced with an even faster, carbon fibre, Chiron.

So what’s so deceiving about this image? It’s actually a die-cast 10-inch long model. Not your everyday children’s model but a precisely engineered scaled model that was purchased for $200 or so. When a photographer has the desire to photograph something he cannot afford, thinking outside the box comes in handy.

When the time comes to have your products photographed, make sure you get the right person to do the job and make your products look like they’ve just been purchased on Rodeo Drive.

©2017 Wayne Dion / Dion & Company

What Determines the Fee in Professional Commercial / Industrial Photography?

If you’ve shopped around, you’ll find that photographer fees can vary greatly. Some are close to one another while others are half or double the price. Capitalism at its best? Well maybe a little.
The top reasons that determine the cost of the shoot, besides the expertise of the photographer, is time and image usage. How long it will take to set up? Is there travel or assistance needed? How will the images be used, in what from and for how long? Besides the fact that most photographers have a minimum charge, what determines price after that?

When shopping for a photographer you must compare apples to apples. Requesting pricing for a project from someone who is geared towards portraits will be vastly different and lack the kind of experience needed in an industrial or manufacturing setting. Not all photographers are created equal in this industry. A high-level portraitist and an industrial photographer usually never swap places. Personally, my weak points are weddings, families and children. The vision of an industrial photographer is not geared toward these kinds of subject matters. We would rather put in ear protection and safety glasses and get to work at a foundry.

Level of Creativity

Many of my assignments require me to make something out of nothing. A box of parts or a pile of dirt with a machine in the middle. The conceptualization of the final image carries a completely different set of visual problems to be solved as opposed to a wedding professional. While the portrait / wedding studio can make you look great by accentuating your best features and minimize your imperfections, an industrial photographer must conceive how the image will look in any environment imaginable without the controlled setting of a studio setting. Variables include weather, location, surrounding area, available light (or the lack thereof) and scope of work. How much real estate has to be included in the image?

Image Usage and Time

A photo shoot to populate a blog, real estate listing or newsletter will be much more affordable than one for a magazine cover or trade show booth. So, what’s the difference? A photo is a photo…or is it?
An image for a these formats has a limited shelf life and minimum to mid-level impact. The revenues derived can be modest (except MLS). However, the magazine cover or trade booth image has a huge impact on your brand. They are seen by more potential customers and in turn produces more revenue for the client. It also has to be a really great shot. Its use, along with shelf life and time to create, are very important factors in determining the cost of the project.

When it comes to choosing the right photographer for your project, make sure you balance the cost quoted along with the expertise being delivered. Cut corners and you’ll not only have wasted your budget dollars but your company image can take a dip. On top of that, you’ll most likely be disappointed in the results.
©2017 Wayne Dion / Dion & Company

Photographing the Car Show

It’s harder than you think!

It’s summer and it’s car show season. Every rain-free weekend will have a car show and one will probably show up within 30 miles of your home eventually. The shows usually have a theme. Muscle cars, Italian cars, German, etc. Pick a show that interest you the most and go. The owners LOVE displaying their expensive trophies and they can be fun to see. It’s not every day you can catch a Lamborghini Diablo driving down the street. They are the ultimate example of form and function.

Now let’s grab the cell phone, tablet, point-and-shoot camera or your DSLR and take some amazing photos of these amazing machines.

What you’ve pictured in your mind’s eye quickly vanishes after your first exposure. People are everywhere and they are showing up in reflections. These cars are painted and clear coated to the point where the finish becomes a mirror. EVERYTHING reflects in the paint and the chrome.

In some instances, you get folks stepping into your shot or parking themselves right in front of your lens as you are about to hit the shutter. That’s just going to be the hazards of the event.
In all my years of pro photography, I’ve only found a few work-arounds that will produce semi-acceptable images. First, get there early when the sun is low and the color of the morning sky is rich and warm. Second, use a polarizing filter. This will reduce or eliminate a lot of the reflections like clouds in the windshield or reflections in the paint. You’ll never be able to remove the multiple glare spots caused by the sun but that can be done with selective angles or in post-production using “content aware delete” in Photoshop. The cloning tool can work too. The images will never look like you took them in a studio but it’s the best you can do in an uncontrolled environment.

The third solution is to only photograph sections of the vehicles. The attention to the details of a Ferrari, Porsche, Rolls Royce, etc. are astonishing. Close-ups of headlights, tail lights and interiors can look amazing. The design and machining of these parts are works of art in themselves and can make for some cool images.

The best advice I can offer is to go and enjoy the car show for what it is. If you strike up a conversation with one of the owners, maybe you can offer to photograph the car at some other time in a more controlled environment.






©2017 Wayne Dion / Dion & Company





Get Noticed at Your Next Trade Show

The message needs to be clear at 30 feet.

Even though floor space costs are at all-time highs, the elements you need to exhibit have been reduced dramatically since the dawn of the digital age. A full color booth that once cost in excess of $12,000 to produce can now cost less than half that amount. Not only did the costs get lowered but so did the weight. Aluminum skeletons and printed wraps make the haul to the show lighter and the set-up quicker.

So now that you’ve saved a bundle, don’t skimp on the visuals that will be needed to attract attention at the show. Competition is stiff and those who visually stimulate an attendee from 30 feet away will have a better chance at making new connections and landing a new business. The high school science fair is not the look you want!

The smart business owner knows this along with their marketing person, sales manager and the business development executive. Make sure your photographer knows it too. It will take more than someone with great gear. It takes vision and the ability to share, conceptualize and execute that vision. It takes a pro with experience.

The Javitz Center in New York City along with the Las Vegas Convention Center are two of the largest venues for trade shows. People come from all over the planet for shows at these locations. It’s time for you to make an impression.

Here’s an example of a recent booth design that was a collaboration between Grant Marketing and myself. The Javitz Center was the first venue where it would be used. The goal was to attract attention visually as well as tell the story of what they do in one very large image.

Prior to the shoot a site survey was completed to assess the possibilities. Listening to the client is crucial but it’s also a two- way street. They need to listen to you visually. A great client understands and expects this.

At the completion of the survey, it was agreed that only one image was going to achieve the goals set forth by the client. The robotic spray arm in all its glory!

My concept was explained and agreed upon within minutes. This was the shot. The shot that they needed to attract attention. One that would catch your eye, tell a story and lure the show-walker over for a conversation.

In total, six lights were used with three different color temperatures and the camera color balanced for the main spray arm. Quite a complex set-up. The background was made from new air filters that were white and pristine. A blue gel was added to the 2 lights that illuminated them. The actual spray was added in post-production. Atomized paint and cameras have never had a very good relationship.

The next time you’re planning trade show booth development, make sure you get the right photographer to bring your vision to life. ©2017 Wayne Dion / Dion & Company

Stock or Custom Photography?

Creating your online and marketing image

So, you’re about to launch or re-launch your web site. This time you’ve collected more content and purchased a better layout. Hero image holders and links soon to be full of information. Now you need to sprinkle some images around so it looks like a real site and not a simple text blog.

You only have 3 choices. Take your own photos, buy stock images for $20-$50 each or hire a professional commercial photographer for your project. One is free, the second is affordable but the third option can be expensive. You know the old saying “You get what you pay for.” This is true in most instances but the $30 hamburger in Times Square may not fit into that scenario. Hamburgers just aren’t worth $30 no matter where you get them!

Option 1. Taking your own photos is a bad idea on so many levels. It doesn’t matter what smart phone you have. It’s not that smart. If you’re not a professional photographer, you will fail miserably. What you photograph with your phone will never stand out among your competition. There is so much more to the process than clicking the shutter. Lighting, composition, depth of field and aspect ratio all come into play and you may not know anything about any of that. You may have taken some great vacation shots or even some cool nature photos. Well that’s not the kind of imaging you need in business unless your business is selling lakes and mountains.

Option 2. Purchase stock photos online. They are affordable, focused, look professional and are readily available at a moment’s notice. Click the mouse a few times and POW! You’ve got images for your site. Stock is filled with everything from conference rooms to brief cases, board meetings and dental offices. How can you go wrong?

So, what’s the problem with stock? The problem is that it looks like exactly like a stock image. The photos that appeal to you will have the same appeal to many others and therefore appear on many sites. No matter what your business is, people in the same business may have the same tastes and are trying to appeal to the same audience. How will you ever get noticed if you have the same look as your competition?

The reason you’re in business is because you believe you can offer more to your clients than your competition. Better customer service. Better product. More attention to their needs and a better understanding of their goals. So why plop an image down that is not as custom as your business itself?

Option 3. Contract a commercial photographer to create content that is unique to you and your business. A creative that clearly understands marketing, technology and can see your vision. The right individual(s) can give you a whole new perspective on your own business. They can visualize how to sell to your target audience. A perspective you may not have been able to see being so closely tied to your own operations.

Most company owners make the mistake of selling their business to themselves. They will always want you to photograph the new gizmo they just heavily invested in. What they don’t understand is that’s not really the picture they need. That machine or building expansion is what the customer now has to pay for. It will be reflected in their next invoice. GUARANTEED.

What needs to be photographed is the solution that gizmo provides to the customer’s problem. Customers always have problems. You need to solve them. The visuals you use need to show how you solve those problems and not how you spend their money.
Building your company on images not created with your brand in mind will do more harm than good. Yes, you may save a few dollars by using stock but you are sacrificing more than money. You have completely eliminated what makes your company or service unique.
Using stock photography is like having a bad hair piece. Everybody knows it but they just don’t have the heart to tell you how bad it looks.

©2017 Wayne Dion / Dion & Company

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Wayne Dion
Dion & Company
Boston Aerial

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