Your business should have a camera (that isn't a phone)
In the age of social media and visual content marketing, the power of a photo or video can't be underestimated. So why do so many businesses rely on smartphone cameras with small, mediocre sensors when good gear is right within reach?
"The best camera is the one you have with you" is oft-repeated to defend the use of a middling camera, but it's also a good reminder that if you don't have a camera your team can use, they're going to use the one they have. Smartphone cameras have gotten very good, but in anything less than perfect lighting, you'll need very steady hands to get a good photo.
The power of pictures (and video!)
Hubspot has aggregated a great deal of statistics about "Visual Content Marketing", but to trim down to a few choice facts:
- Tweets with images receive 150% more retweets than tweets without images. (Source)
- Facebook posts with images see 2.3X more engagement than those without images. (Source)
- Organic Facebook engagement is highest on posts with videos (13.9%) and photos (13.7%). (Source)
- There were more than 500 million Instagram users in June 2016. (Source)
It's clear that photos can help get your message out on social media. Getting more organic engagement means you can reach more people with your paid advertising, or save your budget and reach the same number of people.
Can't I just hire a photographer? Or buy stock photos?
Yes... but are you going to want to hire someone for every post you push out? When it makes sense, definitely hire a photographer - one obvious example is if you sell physical products. In that case it makes sense to hire an expert.
Hiring a photographer can cost you hundreds of dollars per session, and stock photos are expensive. And you'd be wise to consider those "royalty free" image sites carefully, as they can be dangerous.
If you're a large company that needs extremely high quality images and have a budget to match, that's fine... but for smaller teams it's hard to fit prices as high as $250 per image in to your budget (not to mention the hassle of keeping track of where you sourced it from and what the rights are!).
So what should I do?
Your business should have a camera, and everyone in your company should be encouraged to use it from time to time. If you're not sure what kind of camera you want (and it can definitely be overwhelming), I highly recommend the Wirecutter's guides:
One major suggestion: Look for a camera with Wifi/Bluetooth to connect to a phone or tablet — it'll be unbelievably useful for getting photos to various social media accounts quickly.
What I use:
My personal preference is toward the Fuji X range. A Fuji XT-1 with the 18-55mm zoom lens can be found used for around $700 (as of March 2018). Or for a smaller/cheaper kit, the XT-10, or X-E2 are both also good options.
I particularly like that you can get really fantastic results using Fuji's "film simulation" modes (Classic Chrome is a personal favorite) in JPEG if you just want to shoot a quick office outing, or take a picture of something in a hurry for a blog post. No need to spend a ton of time editing.
In general, any decent camera is a good step up from a smartphone and well worth making a part of your company's toolkit.
If you'd like to see some examples of photos I've taken, check out this post with pictures I took at Youth Startup Weekend.