Women in Business

Have you ever noticed how male-dominated a lot of business imagery is? And then if there is diversity, it tends to be a rainbow nation of ethnicities and all genders in a slightly bizarre “aren’t we all just so happy to be here with our lattes and iPhones pointing and laughing into the middle distance” sort of a way.

My advice always is to avoid the cliché by featuring your own business and your own colleagues in the images for your website. That way, you’ll represent a natural cross-section of your team.

However there is one area of my own website where I will always favour an image of a female business person over that of a male. The reasons aren’t purely for promoting women in business, but that too is a factor in my policy when deciding which photo should be on the home page.

The thing is, my work consists mostly of corporate portraits, with editorial-style business pictures, conference photography and various other forms of corporate communications photography following in behind, so it makes sense to make my main image a portrait.

Following on from that, for the most part people looking to book me for the work I do will find my website through Google (other search engines are available, but nobody ever uses them) and more often than not it’s marketing managers, office managers and personal assistants who find me. And they’re overwhelmingly female.

So yes, perhaps cynically, I want to make sure that landing on my home page is a comfortable experience for those most often given the responsibility of booking me. Certainly I see no reason why the “hero/ine image” needs to be male, and there’s something to be said for offering a main image to which my core clients can relate.

There is also the practical consideration that if someone landing on my home page sees a male face, there’s a risk they’ll think they’re looking at a photo of me, which if not necessarily upsetting, might at the very least appear conceited. I save my site visitors that particular pleasure for the About page, which when you see it you’ll understand why vanity is probably one of the few vices I don’t suffer from. The reason I feature my face at all is because I believe in practicing what I preach.

This post was inspired by the person who is the latest to be featured on my home page, Hazel, who works for a firm in Bristol. The other week I asked Hazel if she’d mind being featured, and the points outlined above are pretty much how I framed my request. Hazel completely understood and had no qualms about being featured on my home page, which is great because not all headshots necessarily fit, but her company’s portrait requirements work well within the space.

So thanks Hazel! And to anyone out there I photograph in future, especially women, don’t be surprised if I ask you too – I do like to update that page whenever I can. Equally I’ll understand if you’d rather not be featured, but at least if you’ve read this article you’ll understand why I’ve asked in the first place.

 

Anatomy of Photo Delivery

According to my records, I’ve been serving up my images to clients via an online library system for exactly six years. What follows is a little back story and (spoiler alert) why I’m not about to change my setup.

Flowchart showing Tim Gander's workflow for client photography

The way I currently shoot and supply client images goes something like this

 

One of the benefits of my current system is that the turnaround of work is much faster; wherever possible I aim to deliver images within 48 hours from the end of the shoot.

Beyond this, the main benefit to clients is that they have a central image library which they can access at any time and download the images they need, when they need them. The image files are also available at a variety of sizes from web resolution to large print format, which can save the client the headache of having to resize files for different media.

Corporate photographer Tim Gander's old workflow, now obsolete

My old workflow was cumbersome and was prone to delays

The old system relied on building a web gallery which was really just for proofs, from which the client would then choose the files they wanted me to edit, process and deliver, and had the distinct disadvantage that what the client saw on the gallery were un-processed, imperfect images. I also had to await the client choices before I could finish the editing and processing stage, after which I usually had to burn a CD or DVD of photos and post them off. Lots of delay in that system, but it was as up-to-date as things were at the time.

Clients who are still served by photographers supplying images via email or posted disc have the added problem that if the originals are lost, they have to go back to the photographer (assuming they can remember who took the photos) and request duplicates. With the system I use, the client merely has to log back into their gallery and re-download their pictures with no unnecessary delay.

The gallery system allows me to offer simple, set-price packages which suit the majority of my clients. I can also set up reprint sales galleries on the odd occasion people will want to buy prints from an event. I can taylor gallery content to suit the client, removing pictures which have become obsolete and adding new pictures after a fresh photo session. I can set up duplicate galleries with different levels of access security, I can create multiple galleries with different content for different client requirements. It’s an incredibly versatile system which I imagine will serve me well for years into the future. Assuming, that is, no one invents a way of delivering photos via telepathy. Now that really would be fun!

What does the photography client want?

This maybe a dangerous question to ask, but then they don’t call me Mad Crazy Tim for nothing. Ok, so they don’t call me Mad Crazy Tim, but it’s a dull Wednesday morning and I’m struggling for jokes here…

I ask the question because while some of my articles are aimed at those with a passing interest in photography, some at designers and others at the voices in my head telling me to burn stuff, I’m also aware that existing and potential clients sometimes swing by and read these articles, so this time I’m asking them/you the question – cue close camera shot of my screen as I type, á la Carrie Bradshaw:

What does the photo-buying client want?

Hmm, that’s not as sexy as the stuff Carrie asks.

female with brain activity recording cap on.

If only I could read clients’ minds.

You see it’s all very well me putting up a website, getting it found, showing my work etc, but as with any business there are two sides. There is the quality, service and pricing structure I put out there, and then there is what the client actually wants from a photographer. And unless I ask the question every now and then, how can I possibly match what I offer to what you, the clients need and want?

I know many clients want a fast turnaround. They’re keen to get the ball rolling with their project, and waiting to see the results of a shoot can be frustrating. Especially now we all expect things to happen instantaneously through the web. I know when I order something from Amazon, I’m expecting the courier to be knocking on my door within seconds of me hitting the Confirm Order button. To this end, I aim to have the client gallery up within 24 hours. With afternoon and evening assignments the link is often with the client by the following morning. Even Amazon would struggle to compete with that speed of delivery.

And all this speed of service is fine and dandy, but I want to know what clients, either design or direct clients, want even before the shoot begins. How much involvement do you want from your photographer?

I know I’m always keen to speak to designers and their clients at the earliest possible stage. It means I can have input and also see how everyone else’s minds are working before I start taking pictures. I need to know what pictures the designers and clients have in their heads, because the last-minute brief may not convey this. But sometimes (ok, often) I can see I’ve been called long after the creative discussions have happened. Maybe that is what clients want, or maybe they don’t know it would be better to involve me sooner.

What else might clients and their designers expect? Ok, free photos would be nice but let’s stay in the real world here. What I mean is, is there some service, some input or anything else either before, during or after a shoot that clients wish could be done to help them?

This article is essentially a plea for help and information, because designers and businesses will often raise with me issues they’ve had with other photographers, but I know that unless I directly ask for feedback (which I often do) I might never hear good ideas on improving my service. I also ask because non clients have good ideas too.

Of course if I get no feedback at all, I’ll just have to assume I’m perfect, which is what I thought all along…