Professional photos are a necessity for every business, but many owners don’t want to pay for them. There are other priorities that they’d rather use the money on, or they assume that the smartphone in their pocket can do just as good of a job.
I’m here to give you a wake-up call: your lack of professional photos is actually costing you money. According to MDG Advertising, 67 percent of consumers say the quality of a product image is “very important” in selecting and purchasing the product, and they value the image more than seeing the product’s information, long descriptions, or ratings and reviews.
What images do people see when they find your business online? Are they the kind of images that would make them take the next step and fill out a lead form? If the answer is no, it’s time to hire a professional.
If you haven’t worked with a professional photographer, I’ve got four suggestions on how to start the process and get quality images for your venue that will drive business.
Decide on what images will work best
The first step to upgrading your venue’s photography is to create a list of the images you’ll need to sell your space. Think about the questions you get from clients who are looking for a private event space to guide your list. In general, venues should have the following images for their website, social media posts, print pieces, and other types of marketing:
- Your venue and private event spaces
- A look at the entrance
- Setups for different event types and sizes
- A look at the spaces during an event
- Both Day and night
- Any outdoor spaces if applicable
- The view from your spaces of your city, grounds, or other visual interest
- The bar
- Main courses
- Buffet setups
- Decor and atmosphere
- Setup for a DJ, photo booth, gift table, and other amenities
- Seasonal and holiday decor options
- Decor and amenities that are unique to your space, such as a game room, themed rooms, artwork, or furniture
- Your staff
- Setting up for an event
- Serving appetizers
- Serving the meal
- A team photo
Select and contact professional photographers
Once you have a photo list ready, it’s time to find the right photographer to capture the look and feel of your venue. Start with an online search that includes your city or state and terms such as “restaurant photography” or “event photography.” If you’re on friendly terms with other restaurants in your community that have professional images, ask for photographer referrals. Also check the photo credits for local food, lifestyle, and travel magazines and blogs for suggestions.
Make a list of possible photographers and take a look at their website and online portfolio to get an idea of their photography style and if it fits the style you’re considering for your venue. If a photographer fits your vision, contact them via email or the contact form on their website, and include the list of images you’re looking for to give them more direction on how much work the photo shoot will take and what the work will cost. Contact more than one photographer so you can get a good range of what kind of budget you’ll need when they reply with a quote.
Working with the photographer
You’ve chosen a photographer who will be a good fit for the style of photos you want and fits your budget, and your photo shoot date is on your calendar. Keep a few things mind for the day of the shoot.
The photographer will photograph the list that you’ve previously discussed, but they’ll also have a few ideas after seeing your venue in person. Trust them and let them take photos that are off the list. They might see a detail that you missed or an idea you hadn’t thought of when you created your list. Give them some creative control and you’ll receive some amazing images that show off the character of your venue, menu, and staff.
When the photographer takes photos during an event at your venue, give your client a heads up or get approval in advance in case they need to deal with internal red tape. That way they can inform any photographers they’ve hired that there will be a second person present taking photos for the venue and not the event itself. Alternatively, you can check with your client and their photographer to see if you can use their images. Make sure you get these approvals in writing! Also let the guests know that they may be in photos taken that day that may be used in your venue’s marketing efforts. Common ways to spread the word to guests without being too intrusive include signs at the entrance to the event, in emails sent by the client to guests prior to the event, or a reminder from any event speakers or hosts who address the attendees from the stage.
Using the right resolution size for your marketing efforts
When the images are edited and ready, the photographer will give you the digital photos and may provide you with different image sizes and resolutions, depending on what you agreed upon in your contract. It’s important to use the right image resolution for the right marketing tools.
Image resolution refers to the density of the image’s pixels. High resolution images have more pixels and appear more crisp and detailed, which is why they’re used in print publications. Printers need more resolution to replicate detailed images on the page. Images with low resolution have fewer pixels and lose detail, which is fine for your computer monitor — it needs fewer pixels to display an image.
If you’re using images for your website, social media marketing, your profile on review sites like TripAdvisor, for social media or blogging influencers, or anything that will be viewed on the Internet, you need at least 72 pixels per inch (ppi). This is a standard measurement based on how a computer monitor displays images.
Not all of your marketing is going to be done via the web. You’re going to need some printed materials to promote your venue, such as signs, banners, or flyers. You might also be approached by print publications — local newspapers, regional lifestyle magazines, or industry publications like Seated — and they need larger resolution images. The standard for print publications is 300 dots per inch (dpi).
To find out what resolution your image is on a PC, start by right-clicking on the file. A window of options will appear; click Properties in the window. Another window will appear and it contains the image’s information. Click the Details tab to view the resolution and size.
Mac users should open their image with the Preview tool, then click the Tools option from the menu bar. Select Adjust Size, and a window will pop up with the image’s resolution and size.
Quality images = more sales
It takes some time, research, and money, but a set of quality images that provide customers with a visual look at the options and atmosphere that your venue will provide is a great investment. These images will show your work and your venue at its best, and will attract repeat and prospective event customers, who count on professional-looking images to help make their purchasing decisions. Once you start using these photos in your marketing efforts, you’ll make back the money you spent on photography in no time.
Marketing tips and tools change every day – read Tripleseat’s blog posts on marketing for the latest information on how you can promote your restaurant or venue. And check out articles, infographics, and more on our Marketing Tips for Event Professionals and Social Media Marketing for Event Professionals boards on Pinterest.