Brand Imagery: Creating a Shared Visual Vocabulary
With the growth of social media has come an increased reliance upon imagery to tell brand stories. For most of my clients, that means pictures of their staff and their offices. For those in the home improvement industry, it is their work that needs to be highlighted. One person’s definition of blue may be completely different than another’s. It is only through a shared visual vocabulary that they can be sure to be on the same page. Architectural photography is a different kind of brand imagery, but just as powerful as the headshots and event pictures I take.
While my preference is to photograph people, I enjoy the creative challenge of taking architectural images every once in a while. These two subjects require different yet similar approaches. Both professional headshots and architectural photography have the same goal – to make each subject look their best. With people, it’s ensuring their authentic personality comes through in their smile and posture. When photographing a kitchen remodel, the colors, textures, details and angles all have to shine.
If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know that I talk about lighting for every photoshoot I write about. For headshots, I approach my lighting needs by the space I am in. If I am outside or in a building with a lot of natural light, I can rely on the sun to illuminate my subjects. Interior shots usually mean I have to bring my own lighting to create the necessary shadows that highlight people’s faces. Photographing in a home is a whole other story. Windows add natural light, which tends to fight with indoor lighting sources in photography. Many times I have to adjust for lighting in the editing process. Also, hard surfaces like countertops, tile, stainless steel and mirrors are highly reflective, not only of light but of me as well. Care must be taken during the shoot to compensate for the shine and for the possibility of my face showing up in the middle of an oven door.
Photographing people usually requires a standard camera lens since I am rarely trying to add particular points of view. Architectural imagery requires more subtlety. You may notice many realtor home images have a fish-eye look, pulling out edges and angles in an unnatural way in an effort to capture the entirety of a space. Home remodelers, craftsmen and interior designers are looking to show the quality of their work while allowing you to feel like you could be in the space. Think Architectural Digest or Dwell magazine imagery. This look cannot be captured with the wide-angle lens. Instead I spend a lot of time moving my standard camera lens up and down, or the whole tripod to varying spots to ensure I capture the essence of the room. Close ups of materials, architectural detailing, patterns and textures are central to telling the story of a home design project as well. People never have me show the texture of their skin in our headshot sessions!
Most of the after-shoot editing I do for professional headshots is adjusting smiles, out-of-place hair, or putting someone on another background. With architectural photography, the color of the space is an important detail that must be true to the design. Color is interpreted differently by the eye and the camera, so sometimes I will take a picture of a color wheel in the space to see how the camera is interpreting the room. This allows me to alter the image later if it does not capture exactly what my client envisioned. I also clone out necessary but not always attractive elements like outlets, switches and thermostats.
A large part of your brand is what makes you different – your personality, your people and your work. I take the time to get to know you, your employees and what you do to ensure those unique qualities shine through in your brand imagery. Contact me here to learn more about how I can help you communicate effectively with your target market.