If you’re planning on revamping your website, a good place to start is the photographs. But before you hire a photographer, you should have some clear ideas about your goals and how you want your shoot to proceed.

Pierre Arsenault, a corporate photographer based in Montreal, works regularly with financial advisors. Most advisors, he says, want to portray themselves as confident, in control and positive.

Still, there are numerous details you and the photographer must discuss in order to come up with a set of effective photos that express the message you want to convey.

The following tips can help you hold a successful photo session:

> Create a budget
Decide well in advance how much you’re willing to spend, and discuss your budget with your photographer. There are a host of additional costs that people often neglect to factor in, Arsenault says, which can affect the quality of the photos.

For example, touching up photos to get rid of blemishes and shiny spots can take up to 45 minutes of extra work, which isn’t typically covered under the photographer’s fees. Hiring a makeup artist, who can cost about $200 to $300, can help pull your professional look together and save you the editing costs, Arsenault says.

Christine LaLiberté, senior investment advisor with Manulife Securities in Surrey, B.C., found it useful to have a makeup artist on hand for her photo shoot. “She just made [the faces] more visible to the camera,” she says. “Sometimes, when we make up our faces and get our photos shot, we may look a little more washed out.”

> Specify your needs
It’s not enough to say the photos will be used for the website or the newsletter. You have to outline explicitly how they’re going to appear, whether, for example, as website headers or headshots, Arsenault says.

This information helps the photographer plan how to shoot and edit the photos, so that he or she can provide you with a variety of options to choose from. For example, the photographer can custom fit a picture to be used for your website banner so the image quality will remain intact.

Finding out later that the photo will have to be expanded or cropped can result in reduced quality. “When you resize,” Arsenault says, “the sharpness of the image changes.”

> Co-ordinate your clothing
Photographs can express how you work as a team, and part of that involves striking a cohesive look. The classic black-and-white attire — black jacket, white-collared shirt — is one that advisors often go for when being photographed, Arsenault says.

“At our events for clients, we always have to wear black suits, whether it’s pants or skirts, and usually a black blazer,” says LaLiberté. “For team shots and headshots, we all said we’re going to get a blazer shot.”

Rule out patterns and wild colours, which tend to clash and make for a busy, distracting photograph.

> Strive for consistency
If the photographs are meant to anchor the design of your website, Arsenault says, they should have a consistent look and feel. This goes beyond having everyone sport uniform attire and encompasses everything from the backdrop or setting to the lighting and cropping of the pictures.

These are details that both you and the photographer should note. For example, one or two photos that look out of place because of poor lighting can give clients a negative impression. “It makes me think they’re sloppy,” Arsenault says. “And that they’re not interested in their image.”

This is the second part in a two-part series on updating your website photos. Click here to read part one on ensuring your photos accurately reflect your business practice.

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