3 March 2021

Photography? Who needs that?

Best-selling author and acclaimed photographer, Brian Lloyd Duckett, gives his views on how photography plays an important part in forming opinions.

When we see a business – whether it’s appearing on a website, in a magazine or newspaper or on social media – we form an impression. A ‘picture’ develops in our minds about that business which, once formed, is difficult to change. It’s all about first impressions.

And ‘picture’, here, is the key word. The image, or set of images you’ll be looking at, has a huge impact on how the world perceives your organisation, whether you’re a small dental practice, a regional law firm or a global consumer brand. Yes, it’s all about image.

This is where photography comes in. The good news is that you’re in control: you can decide on what images the world sees; you can shape that image to the extent that you’re leading people down a very focused path in terms of what they think of you. You’re in complete control. Or you should be . . .

The bad news is that too few organisations use photography to its full potential. Take PR photography, for example. What do you think a picture of four blokes in grey suits standing in front of a giant cheque says about your business? How do pictures like this link to your brand values or your messaging?

Photography by Brian Lloyd Duckett.

Public Relations is an interesting case in point. Photography should be at the heart of any campaign – but sadly it’s often an afterthought; it’s the ‘giant cheque’ scenario – or a z-lister cutting a ribbon, all big smiles and gleaming teeth but no substance. Any photography used to support PR (or any marketing) activity needs thinking through. Find a photographer who’s not only a good photographer but one who understands branding and communications; one who will collaborate with you to develop and shape a brief. This work up-front always pays dividends later in terms of campaign reach and cut-through but too often it gets overlooked. ‘Let’s brief a photographer’ comes late in the conversation – when it should be near the beginning.

Then there’s the portraits of your directors or employees. Do they show thought, humanity and attention to detail? Are the pictures fully on-brand and on-message? We often see forced, cheesy portraits that tell us nothing – either about the person or about the organisation they represent. But it’s such a simple thing to get right! As one candid marketing director said to me recently about photography, “Getting it wrong is easy. Getting it right is even easier – but how many of us do that?”

I’m sorry if all this sounds harsh but every week I see opportunities missed and marketing spend wasted because photography has taken second stage. It needs to be right up there at the start of the conversation – not chucked in at the end as a ‘PS’.


Brian Lloyd Duckett is a commercial photographer with offices in Liverpool and London. He provides organisations from entrepreneurial start-ups to global brands with distinctive imagery to support their marketing and PR activity.

Tel 07948 528656

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