Image Banks, Why Your Company Should Have One and Keep it Updated

Image Banks DogThere’s nothing worse in business than not being in a position to seize an opportunity. This is particularly relevant in industries, where there’s no guarantee of continuos work, e.g. construction and shipbuilding. Hence it’s particularly important to have the right imagery to present to prospects when opportunity arises. The ability to draw from image banks can be the difference between securing orders and seeing your competitors prosper. Unless you’re always constructing iconic buildings or ships, it’s unlikely you’ll find sufficient suitable imagery from stock agencies. It’s therefore always best to build your own image bank.

The tendering process for large engineering and construction projects, especially when design and build, are about presentation and price. Presentation, may include demonstrating experience and knowledge from previous similar projects. Image banks are effectively a store of photographs to present your competence and be ready when your prospects call. Well composed and lit photographs will always outshine shots taken quickly by members of staff between their regular duties. Thus investing in professional photoshoots of completed projects can give a competitive edge in securing future work.

Participating in competitions can be a great way of promoting your business. In the UK architecture and construction industry most competition submissions are between January and April. At this time of year there’s no sunlight on north facing facades, therefore producing award winning photographs can be challenging. Photographs kept in image banks until needed can make the difference between a successful competition entry and a distant runner up.

General Marketing Materials

Image Banks - Your Brochures need up to date and relevant images.It’s probable your company publishes brochures to promote itself. Cost per copy usually decreases with larger print runs, thus updating cycles may be dependant on stock depletion. A client once asked me to shoot landscaping works for brochure in February, when there’s not much in flower. My advice was make the smallest economic print run and reshoot when the flora is at it’s best. The summer picture can then be pulled out of the image bank whenever the next batch of brochures is printed.

Most firms grow over time and take on larger and more challenging projects, thus it’s good practice to update brochures. Having image banks makes it easy to do this on an ad-hoc basis as brochure stocks deplete. Websites need constant updating to maintain search engine rankings, adding new images and posts is an effective way of doing this. If something’s published online and a better image becomes available, it’s an opportunity to update and repost on social media.

Planing your Image Banks

If you just asked an architect to design a building you might get an ivory tower. If you ask a photographer to take some pictures you could get pretty images that don’t work for you. The military has a 7P’s saying “poor planing produces poor performance”, the other 2 P’s are expletives. Planning a corporate image bank is no exception.

Photographers need to be adequately briefed to make your image bank contents relevant and appropriately formatted. A photographer can look at your current brochure and website but can’t know whether you’re planing a redesign. If your current brochure is portrait format but you’re planing the next edition landscape, the cover and centrefold change dramatically. You can request the photographer shoot a variety of formats to keep your options open, or brief specific requirements.

Even the most specialist photographers won’t know everything about your product and may miss important details unless specifically briefed. Some buildings for example have unremarkable yet important technical features. A recent example in my own work were anti-ligature hinges in a mental health care home. The hinges were only photographed as part of a wider photoshoot because I was properly briefed on their significance. This enabled my client to demonstrate specialist knowledge of this type of building to future prospects. As a professional commercial photographer, I have procedures to develop photoshoot briefs and help clients populate image banks with the content they need. These procedures protect clients from the military’s seven P’s.

Image Bank Management and Security

Image security covers two issues, future proofing and protection from data destruction. Most of us are old enough to remember when cameras used film and have seen how quickly this medium is gaining obsolescence. Advances in computer technology could also make film scanners obsolete. Furthermore, there’s no way of knowing when the current JPEG and TIFF formats will become obsolete, of even if this will happen. In all probability if these formats become obsolete there will be some way of converting them to new formats. Conversion of old images to current technology is therefore recommended before it becomes impractical. When your company celebrates it’s centenary, future directors won’t thank you if old images aren’t useable in a corporate history.

Online security continues to be a threat, image banks need protecting from as much as any other corporate data. If you’re a large enough company, your IT department should take care of this, otherwise you could consider cloud storage.

A further consideration with commercial photography is licence duration. Commercial photographers often either charge more for longer licences or offer to renew licences subject to a fee. As your firm develops, images may depreciate in relevance as you tackle bigger and more complex projects. Hence there’s often little point licensing images for more than 10 years, unless you’ve constructed something iconic. This can change when it’s time to publish your corporate history, thus it’s prudent to monitor licence expiry. As image banks grow, it’s good practice to delete images as their licences expire and relicense those you may still need.

For further information contact Stuart Brown.