Photography Mistakes: Inconsistent Images

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One of the most common problems I hear from potential commercial photography clients is that they really want consistency in the images on their website, catalogue and marketing materials.

Often their websites can be a mess. There’s an assortment of different imagery giving a hodgepodge look. Some images are from their suppliers and manufacturers, some are iPhone images and there can be a few professional images too. With so many image sources it’s impossible to have a consistent looking website and brand message.

For other clients, they already have consistency but it’s important to maintain this when new images are added.

Whether you need images for products, architecture, Amazon, food or corporate portraits, it’s always an ongoing concern for those that value consistency.

I’ve found that most clients are well aware that inconsistent imagery doesn’t reflect well on their brand. They certainly didn’t intend for their imagery to get in such a mess but over the years there images have slowly lost their consistency.

What Does Consistent Images Mean?

When clients say consistency this means several things. They want their products or their food or people or whatever it is, we’re photographing to have a uniform look.

A consistent uniform look means that everything is photographed with similar angles, in the same style and with the same light (yes light can change the look of something dramatically).

It also means getting rid of all the DIY smartphone imagery taken by team members and settling on a set of brand guidelines.

Why Is Consistent Professional Photography Important?

Consistency is especially important when it comes to catalogue photography, ecommerce photography and even brochures. The problem with having images from different sources is that when you put all the images on the same page, in a catalogue for example, or on the same page of a website, more often than not, if the images aren’t consistent it looks hodgepodge. And hodgepodge looks unprofessional – like a business that doesn’t have it together.

“Consistent Photography Communicates:  ‘We Are a High Quality Brand.’”

Sometimes it’s nice to have a variety of different images that are different looking but this can be hard to pull off unless you’re especially creative or good at curating imagery. If this isn’t you, it’s normally best left to the professional or to opt with consistency.

Why the Natural Light Photographer & Consistent Imagery Doesn’t Work

There’s a lot of chatter on the internet giving advice to photographers to only use natural light. Many photographers will only shoot using natural light. But this can be a massive problem for consistency.

Don’t get me wrong, natural light is beautiful, can look lovely but in the hands of the inexperienced, will kill consistency and at minimum, make it much harder (and more expensive) to have consistency.

Why? The quality of light changes – all the time. Clouds pass over and make the light softer, time of day changes the quality and colour of the light. Time of year changes the quality of the light.

And if these things happen, the resulting photo changes.

The bigger issue is, how are we going to replicate the same look for your website or catalogue next week or next year if the light is different? Well, it will be hard and you won’t be likely to get exactly the same look.

How Do You Ensure Your Photographer’s Images Will Be Consistent?

First of all, have a set of image guidelines for your Sydney commercial photographer to follow. If you don’t have this, your photographer should be able to help you create something. These guidelines should include everything from the types of angles you like, the colours, to the lighting and what’s acceptable in an image and what’s not. A lot of this can be summed up with example imagery.

The next thing you want to know, particular when it comes to product photography, food photography and corporate headshots is how your photographer will light it. Will they use natural light or flash.

Most of the time I don’t rely solely on natural light. When I shoot for clients that need consistency, I generally shoot using colour balanced studio flashes. I can control that light exactly how I want it. It’s going to be the same colour, intensity and have the same diffusion every single time.

The biggest reason for shooting this way is I can repeat the same results next week, next year or even in three year’s. Natural light photographers will have difficultly doing that.

To sum up, if consistency is important to your brand, make sure your photographer shoots in way that will bring you repeatable results – consistent colours, consistent lighting, consistent shadowing and consistent angles.

Having well thought out images will mean when you put those images on your website or in your marketing, you will create the perception of a high quality brand and communicate the right message to your customers.

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