Why are we recommending stock?
In my opinion, it comes down to polish and confidence. If you have a great archive of professional-looking imagery taken at your events, then by all means, you should let that shine on your website! However, if the imagery is lacking that professionalism, it does not belong on your digital storefront.
If a client does not have the time or budget to hire one of our photographers to cover their events, we often recommend using stock photography which is fast, affordable, professional (model released, sharp focus, perfect white balance, no logos or copyrighted material in the background), and able to be used for the web or print. Stock offers high quality, impressive imagery that adds polish to a website and feels professional.
Well-curated stock imagery can complement to your website’s content and make partners or donors feel confident in your organization. The assumption is: you either hired someone or were able to pay for quality imagery. It is just a confidence builder. I can tell when an organization hires or uses professional photography. It helps me feel the company is a solid investment.
The question of “realism” on your website
For some organizations we work with, we have created stock archives for them over the course of many months using their actual clients. You can read our blog post about how two types of photography are a valuable investment for your company here.
However, not all organizations have the budget for or time to create a stock archive of their own. Likewise, not all staff members are great photographers. Some images from existing archives are out of date, some images are not toned properly, others are out of focus. Some do not put the best foot forward for the organization. In that case, we recommend they might be better served putting up really strong stock imagery and saving the staff created images for social media.
How do I choose?
Overall, I would suggest starting with this premise: Is this photo the best choice to inspire confidence in our work and mission? Does it show professionalism? Does this photo inspire donors and make them feel confident their investment in us will be well spent? Is this photo just as good as our competitors’ images on their websites?
Once you decide that, then I would consider how relevant “realism” is to the process, how necessary it is to use staff submitted images, and if a little more investment is worth it to inspire those big donors to feel confidence.
Jamie Rose is partner & COO of Momenta Creative. We nicknamed Jamie the “Fun Machine” at the office because of her infectious laugh and unending energy. Don’t let the sparkling personality fool you. Her sharp, plugged-in approach to communications is what landed her previous positions with companies like The New York Times and The Global Fund, and what makes her indispensable to our clients today.
As I walked into a pitch meeting last fall, the client’s IT technician was standing in front of the big screen presentation television, cursing at it. He explained their digital wireless system had stopped working and none of their projectors were connecting to their respective TVs. He had tried everything he knew how to do and suggested we run our presentation from our laptop.
I pulled out my 16-foot PNY HDMI cord and Mac adapter, asked if I could test it on the television, and, voila!, the screen sprang to life. The cord was long enough to extend to the back of the room so the client could sit in front of the screen without my computer blocking their view.
We nailed the presentation, set ourselves above the pack for being good problem solvers, and landed the client. Moreover, it reinforced the concept of always being prepared for a disaster with the right tools to help you out of a jam. Many thanks to PNY Technologies for their great support gear and for helping to keep our company running smoothly!
Jamie Rose is the COO of Momenta Group, LLC. She specializes in brand management, strategic communications, and visual media. PNY Technologies is a sponsor of Momenta, and supports the team with memory and technology support devices for working professionals. To learn more about PNY, please visit www.pny.com.
The team at Momenta has created the following list of top tips and suggestions to capitalize on this communications opportunity, avoid common pitfalls, and improve the positive effects you are trying to achieve.
Create live-Tweeting goals for the day // Think about what you would like to say throughout the stream. Are you giving a play-by-play? Are you providing a behind-the-scenes look? As the day progresses, try to stick to that planned narrative. Cohesive narratives will keep followers engaged and help avoid over-saturation or boredom.
Additionally, if you have a communications team in place with different roles for the event, be sure to agree on goals and hashtags ahead of time. This will help you maximize coverage for the event, prevent repetition across more than one Twitter feed and increase the success of your agreed-upon hashtags.
Add to the story // Taking the above suggestion into consideration, with every image ask yourself: What is this photograph saying? Did I just post a similar one? Live-Tweeting images can help you round our the social media experience if you are adding to the conversation. On the other hand, if you are bombarding your audience with the same perspective multiple times, reconsider your selection.
Photograph in the best light available // If you are in a room with windows, find action near the window light, and photograph with your back to the window. If you are in a room without windows, scope out the best-lit places and find photographs there. In general, unless you are photographing a silhouette, try to avoid photographing into the light with your mobile device. This reduces the quality of the file, especially if you allow your phone to determine the exposure.
Keep your horizons straight // Tilted horizons are a visual device and can sometimes be useful if you are going for a more conceptual/artistic look. If you choose to tilt your horizons, be aware of this, and do not overdo it or let it become a crutch. A series of tilted photos can both confuse viewers and distract from what you are trying to convey. Keeping straight horizons also keeps your feed looking consistent from top to bottom.
Consider using an app to tone your images // Sometimes images can pop more if you play around with filters or with exposure/shadows/highlights/contrast settings in post-production. Though, if you decide to use a filter, try not to overdo it. Also, it is better to stick with one “look” or filter for the duration of the event.
Post flattering photographs of your attendees // Have you ever been tagged in a photo on social media and cringed when you saw it? While we can all be our worst critics, try to keep this idea in the back of your mind throughout the event. Remember your attendees may see these photographs of themselves.
Avoid posting photographs of people eating // This goes back to the above tip. Few people photograph well when they are eating. Chewing, whether with your mouth open or closed, is not attractive or flattering to photograph. If you would like to include the food portion of the event, try to photograph the buffet while attendees are serving themselves. If you do not have a buffet, try to photograph a beautiful platter of ors d’oeuvres instead.
Remember visual variety // Visual variety, in the most basic sense, means you have varied your distance from the subject. See how far away you can get from the scene, and photograph it. See how close you can get to the scene, and photograph it. Move around the scene, and see what it looks like from one corner versus the other. See what it looks like from above. Mixing up your perspective and remembering visual variety will help give your audience a more rounded out idea of what is happening.
Check the corners and background of your frame // Always remember to check the corners and background of your frame before posting. Did you accidentally stick your pinky into the bottom left corner? Is your boss scratching their nose in the back right corner?
Moments, moments, moments! // You will hear this from the best of the best: Good moments usually make a photograph.
Consider having a photographer do your live-Tweeting for you // Just because everyone in the corporate world does not participate in social media does not mean it is not one of the most important marketing tools available to you. Your sponsors, donors, and advertisers can tell if someone from your office is using their iPhone or if you have put in the effort and funds to hire a polished professional. Because of their training and experience, photographers are equipped with the visual communication skills to take your event and turn it into a story, one live-Tweeted image at a time. In turn, your photographs will truly shine, and your event will be more memorable with your viewers online.
Log out of the company account when you are done // This suggestion, though basic, stems from many a cautionary tale. Be sure to log out of the company account before you accidentally live-Tweet from your night out with friends…or worse.
Would you like help creating a social media strategy, setting live-Tweeting goals or hiring a photographer for your event? Reach out to the team at Momenta Creative to see how we can help!
The supply of photographs, licensed from a searchable, online database is often referred to as “stock photography.” Licenses for stock photography can be specific (rights-managed) or all-encompassing (royalty-free), depending upon what your company plans to use the images for. Use determines price, and there is a considerable range in price between the two.
Going with online stock photographs can be faster as you can search for and purchase them from large databases sorted by subject and type. Furthermore, if you are on a tight deadline or your needs are very small, online stock images can be more favorably-priced. This can work well with smaller budgets.
However, it is important to remember that online stock photographs are usually of commonplace objects, places, events and people, so the images will not necessarily convey your company’s personalized message or brand. Usually they are easily identifiable as stock photography. More vexing, online stock images will not generally set you apart from other companies or organizations, and there is the potential that photos purchased will be found in competing company’s collateral as well. Lastly stock photography, particularly royalty-free photographs, quickly begin to look dated.
Finally, the cost of stock photography can quickly add up. One or two images are usually not terribly expensive, but if the needs are numerous, the cost will grow with each new image. Momenta usually includes the cost of some stock in all of its project estimates that have photographic needs, so you can plan for this.
When building your company’s stock image archive, pre-shot stock photographs, as defined above, are not your only choice. Creative professionals, such as our team at Momenta, can help you in creating personalized stock images that represent and promote your company’s own activities and personnel.
Personalized or custom imagery can feel like a more natural approach, as the photographer you hire can capture situations unique to your company and brand. These images will have the same clean feel as online stock images, but the people in the photograph will be your actual staff and clients. This creates a stock image archive that conveys your company’s unique narrative and experience.
Consider the two of images above. The first photograph is taken from an online database while the second photograph was taken by the Momenta Creative team for Washington-area nonprofit, Community Preservation and Development Corporation (CPDC), on one of their many projects. Momenta was asked to produce a library of photographs to illustrate the website Momenta was building for them. The images also needed to fulfill ongoing promotional needs.
The pre-shot stock image, though taken at a construction site, would not convey CPDC’s personalized message or brand. The custom image feels much more intimate and speaks more truthfully to CPDC’s story and mission.
Though pre-shot stock photography can work on a tight budget or deadline, investing in custom stock photography to build your stock image archive can fulfill your organization’s specific visual needs, allowing your company to better convey your brand and message. It also pays off in the long run as the images have lasting value as assets and are not disposable.
Nobody can tell your company’s story better than you. And we’re here to help. Give us a ring if you think our team would be a good fit for your organization. We look forward to hearing from you!
One of the greatest advantages of multimedia storytelling is that the pieces we create provide a multi-sensory experience for your clients. The video and still images will tell your story visually while the audio will set the mood sonically. This doubles your chances of conveying your message and brand. Solid visuals will captivate your client, and solid audio will invite them to feel.
Inevitably, this will require that we obtain music for your multimedia piece. And, unless we are commissioning a composer to create a unique piece of music that works specifically with your visuals, Momenta will need to legally acquire music for commercial use. In this case, our team has four options:
Music within public domain
This is music that anybody can use for anything, meaning the creator’s rights have expired, or the creator has forfeited their rights. Think Beethoven or Vivaldi.
Music with appropriate Creative Commons licenses
Creative Commons provides six different licenses to creators. Only three of those licenses allow for commercial use. They are as follows:
Attribution // You may distribute, remix, tweak and build upon the music, even commercially, as long as you credit the creator for the original creation.
Attribution-ShareAlike // You may remix, tweak and build upon the music, even commercially, as long as you credit the creator for the original creation and license the new creation under identical terms.
Attribution-NoDerivs // You may use the music and redistribute your multimedia piece, even commercially, as long as the music is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to the creator.
This is music for which you pay a one-time licensing fee. This allows you to use the music as long as you would like, even commercially, without having to pay royalties or attribute the creator. Think of this as pre-shot stock imagery, in musical terms.
This is music for which you must secure rights in advance of use. To do so, you must describe the type of use very carefully. Rights-managed music can be very expensive, and cost can vary depending on the time you plan to use the music and the number of plays. Also, securing rights to use the music can take a long time as compared to the other options, and the artist, agent or studio may disagree with your planned use and refuse your request. Most people find this process both expensive and cumbersome, opting instead for royalty-free music or pieces under a Creative Commons license.
In considering how to use the music within your pieces, our production team has two options:
Lay one, instrumental song over the entire piece
This song will play into the general mood you are trying to set with the video, working together with your visuals to convey your brand and message as a whole. Think about this as background music used to tie your piece together and add that bit of ‘je ne sais quoi’ beyond the visuals and even an interview or voice-over. Furthermore, brands often choose a type of music for a given campaign and may use the same music for several pieces along a single theme. This can bring the different pieces together for viewers as a cohesive package in a more subtle and elegant way.
Use snippets of music, sound effects or recorded sound at specific moments
These sounds will accent certain moments within the multimedia piece and help viewers know when to feel what. They would do so by coordinating with your visuals. For example, if showing a beautiful photograph or video clip of a child smiling or taking in their new playground, an excited string of guitar notes would help uplift the viewer and become a sonic indicator of what the child is feeling. Conversely, if showing a video clip of a person sharing a personal experience, a quieter string of soft piano notes would help place the viewer in a more intimate space.
Consider the following video:
Community Preservation and Development Corporation (CPDC), a Washington-area nonprofit, asked Momenta to produce an informational audio slideshow on how investors, contractors and volunteers could partner with their organization. In this case, Momenta elected to use a royalty-free instrumental to play throughout the entire piece. Using royalty-free music allows CPDC to use the piece as long as they desire, even commercially, without attribution to the creator. Furthermore, playing the music throughout the entire piece provides the viewer with a feeling of inspired anticipation while also allowing them to focus on the images and informational voice over.
As our dedicated team of creatives works hard to personalize your experience with us and find the music and sonic approach best suited for your company’s needs, you can be confident that your Momenta project manager will be there every step of the way.
If you think our team would be a good match, please be in touch! We would love to hear from you.