Sep 08, 2023

Calculating Your Return on Photography

3 min read

Photography, just like design, has its roots in both creativity and function. We live in a visual era where images aren't just part of the story – often, they are the story. But how do we measure the value of a photograph? Does investing in superior photography provide tangible benefits? 

To understand a photoshoot's impact, let's look into the 'Return on Photography.' Drawing inspiration from Seth Godin's blog post, Return on Design, we can segment the impact of photography into four distinct zones:

Negative Return:

Bad Hotel Photography

Imagine a hotel's website showcasing dimly lit rooms or a food brand with unappetizing shots of their signature dish. Terrible photography will negatively affect brand perception and create consumer mistrust. These bad photographs fail to tell the intended story and actively turn potential customers away. Bottom line: A poorly executed photo can harm your brand's reputation, impacting revenue in a bad way.

No Impact

Real Estate Photography

Surprisingly, many photographs land in this category. These images are technically competent but fail to evoke any emotion or action. Think of a generic real estate photograph that neither adds nor subtracts value from the impression of the house. The shot might be well-composed and straightforward, but it lacks a unique voice or perspective – it's just there, doing its job, but nothing more.

Positive Return

High-Quality Brand Photography for Hunter Douglas

This is where things get exciting. When photography transcends from being just a visual filler to a potent tool that amplifies a brand's message, drives engagement, or even evokes a strong emotional response. In the example above that I photographed, you see a perfectly styled interior showcasing a brand's product (the window shades) in a beautiful home that makes you feel the luxury just by looking – this is photography that elevates brand trust and enhances the narrative.

Total Package:


Every so often, a photograph isn't just part of the content – it IS the content. Think of iconic shots like Maxell's "Blown Away" by Steve McCurry or any Vanity Fair cover by Annie Leibovitz. These photographs aren't mere complements to a story; they are the story. Investing in such game-changing photography means you're not just seeking better engagement – you're aiming to be memorable. And in today's short attention span climate, this is critical to brand success.

Are Your Photos Hurting or Helping?

Understanding where your brand's photographer lies on this spectrum of quality is essential for the health of your business. If your current imagery is deterring customers, investing in better photography is not just advisable – it's necessary. But be wary of overspending for 'adequate' results.

If your brand revolves around compelling visuals, like a luxury resort or a high-end consumer product line, compromising on photography could be a serious mistake. Your photographs, in such cases, become as crucial as the product or service you're offering.

While the actual return on photography might be subjective and immeasurable in its emotional impact, its value to a brand or story is very real and tangible.

So, the next time you consider investing in photography, ask yourself: What's the return on this shoot?

Next Steps

If you need help answering that question, I'm here for you. Reach out to me today for a discovery call. I'll give you an honest assessment of your brand's current photography and what we can do to improve it.

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