Photo Use Tips for Law Firms
Our world, especially as it relates to marketing and communicating, is a visual one now. Whether on a website or on your firm’s social media accounts, photos are vital, so below are some tips to help you make the most of the ones you use.
Using a Photographer
If you don’t have updated headshots and group portraits, ask friends and family for professional photographer recommendations. Because most photographers do on-site photo shoots, you can also ask them to shoot a few of your building, both interior and exterior, as well as any portraits. You can also ask if they have photos from around your area, like your downtown or local landmarks. The photos of your building or local landmarks may be handy for use on your website or in advertisements and social media.
Before you enter into a contract, be sure you understand any use restrictions. Common restrictions include website and social media or use in print and digital advertisements. Don’t assume you have full rights to a photo, as the photographer usually retains ownership as the artist.
Using Your Own Photos
You can take your own photos but know: a bad photo is worse than no photo. Make sure your photos are in focus, straight and the composition is professional. Avoid (or crop out) things like dumpsters, unkempt landscaping or messy rooms, and keep an eye out for undesirable objects in windows or reflections. Avoid harsh shadows and bright spots by shooting photos on an overcast day – both buildings and people photograph better in soft outdoor light.
Using Stock Photography
If you use stock photography, try to avoid using photos of buildings that don’t look like yours or people if it isn’t immediately clear they’re not employees of your firm. If you practice out of a converted craftsman-style house, a photo of high-rises in a metro downtown isn’t a good fit. Similarly, if you’re a solo practitioner, don’t use a photo of a bustling office full of staff.
Remember – and this is important – never use an image from an internet image search (like Google images). Most photography on the internet is not in the public domain and copywrite infringement or unauthorized use can be very costly. Some free sites are Unsplash or Pexels, but some restrictions may still apply and you may need to provide attribution so be sure to check the usage information for any photos you choose.
- Profile image
A profile image shows up next to posts and, on some platforms, your comments or replies. Your firm’s logo is an excellent choice for your profile picture – it tells people who you are and should only need updating if your firm rebrands or changes names. If you are a solo practitioner, you could use a professional headshot. Whatever you choose, it needs to be simple and easy to recognize because it will usually be very small.
- Header/cover image
For the photo at the top of your account’s page, often called a cover or header image, you can use something unique to your firm like a photo of your building, local courthouse or a local landmark. You can also use a stock photo that relates to your firm (e.g., a metro lawyer could choose a stock photo of a downtown scene, a non-metro lawyer may find a main street photo that resembles their town), or you can use something relating to your practice area.
The unwritten rules for photos are a little more relaxed for social media posts. You still want to be wary of undesirable things in the background you should clean your lens to avoid blurry, cloudy photos, but a quick cell phone snapshot of your firm participating in a community activity or at an event is perfectly acceptable. You can also use professional headshots to introduce new employees (assuming you’ve obtained permission from the photographer for social media use).
- General Imagery
Most websites have at least one image on the homepage. Same as social media cover images, the ideal choice is something unique to your firm – your staff, your building, your shingle or, at the very least, something identifiable from the city where your firm is located (e.g., a landmark, a unique downtown scene). If you do not have a professional photo of something unique you can use stock photography, but again, be sure it reflects your firm in either practice area or location.
- Employee photos
Hire a professional photographer to take your staff photos. If you want a group photo, be sure you also get individual photos. If you only have the group photo and an employee leaves, you’re stuck with a photo you can’t use. If your firm hires someone new, try to have any new portraits photographed in the same style so they fit in with existing headshots on your website.