By the time you meet a prospect in person, it is likely that he or she has already checked your website. That’s why your website has to be an accurate and positive reflection of who you are and what you do.

“Your website is a floating business card for clients,” says Christine LaLiberté, senior investment advisor with Manulife Securities in Surrey, B.C.

Not long ago, LaLiberté decided her website needed a facelift. A key part of the revamping process was to work with a photographer to redo the photos. She wanted to replace the traditional “stiff body shots” set against a white backdrop with new photos that would make prospects want to work with her team.

“To get photos that aren’t so ‘stock’ will give a better impression,” she says. “Good photography is key to showing [who you are].”

LaLiberté offers the following tips to help you use photography to create a distinctive image for your website:

> Communicate with the photographer
Make it a point to sit down with the photographer to go over what your practice is about. The photographer needs to have a sense of the dynamics of the team, such as who’s in charge, before you dive into the session.

LaLiberté’s photographer asked her a lot of questions — from what she enjoyed about work to what she loved about her team. That exchange can be a step toward building a rapport with the photographer and setting yourself at ease, so you’re less nervous and self-conscious in front of the camera.

> Be yourself
Photos that have a stock-photo quality to them often feature people grouped in a team formation, shot in a studio. These photos can appear indistinguishable from those on countless other websites.

“[Our previous photos] were too stiff and professional,” LaLiberté says, “instead of demonstrating who we are as a team.”

For the team’s latest photo shoot, LaLiberté abandoned the white screen and had herself and the team shot in the midst of various activities. The photographer captured them sharing a laugh, throwing a ball, even enjoying a glass of champagne, she says, as a way of showing a range of expressions.

“We’d make each other laugh, have a moment,” LaLiberté says. “It demonstrates we’re a real family practice.”

> Involve clients
LaLiberté got a few clients to participate in the photo shoot. They were shot at the office as though they were carrying out a regular meeting with LaLiberté.

If your clients are concerned about privacy, the photographer can find ways to conceal their identity, such as shooting their backs as they converse with you or subtly blurring their faces while the camera is focused on you.

Consider inviting your photographer to a client event, in which you and your team are interacting with your clients. (You will have to obtain permission from your clients.)

LaLiberté recently hired a photographer/videographer to document a gathering at which her clients discussed their relationship with LaLiberté.

“We are thinking of incorporating it on our website or as separate clips [to be screened] at different events,” she says.

> Mix up the locations
Consider going outside the studio or outside your office for the photo session. You may choose to get some shots outdoors, or plan to have some photos taken at a work gathering. LaLiberté had photos taken outside their office building and on her deck.

Photographers just need to know in advance where the majority of photos will be taken, so they will know what equipment is needed.

This is the first part in a two-part series on revamping your website photos. Next: preparing for a successful photo shoot.

Photo copyright: wavebreakmediamicro/123RF