ARE PICTURES DEAD? WELL, IN DIGITAL MARKETING THEY ARE STILL THE FUNDAMENTALS OF YOUR CAMPAIGN!
Are pictures obsolete Assets?
We will try to understand if you still need to invest in photographic services?
Our industry specialise in adrenaline and emotion! I have been working with many different professional photographers in the past and I have been always somewhat frustrated when they delivered this technically perfect pictures. They were all lacking of emotions. I spent countless hours briefing them on what I needed it and it was always the same story. Great pictures, nothing to say from a technical point of view: sharp, awesome light, perfect contrast but dull.
SUBJECT vs TECHNIQUE
If we have to sell motorsport we certainly are placed in a favourable position, our sport, our industry produce buckets of emotions, literally tonnes of adrenalin. This is what I need to see in a picture. During my brief the words subject, composition, capture the moment were used abundantly to make sure my supplier knew that I was not after that perfect pictures in the night at le mans with the light of the cars going by, instead what we are after is a striking image where the machine meet the human being where the adrenaline and the emotions that I can read into the image want me to share it with some friends. Often I sat with my photographer and review the raw pictures and it was always the case I would say awesome let us keep this one, where he wanted to disregarded it because the image was not technically perfect. “I do not need photography school pictures” I used to say ” I need you to capture the right moment”. In digital marketing terms, we are so used to a fast environment where clients are eager of fresh and new content. They are also wiser and educated. They understand that to be at the right moment in the right time require sacrificing the quality of the image. They are drawn to content. They want a striking subject to share with their friends. Digital means fast and now, they are not going to wait for a book to be printed.
QUALITY vs QUANTITY
The other problem is quantity. The digital space is literally overfilled with images. It is easy to get lost in a see of “bad” images. It is also easier to find a striking image. Our clients have little time and they want pictures that can tell the story in very few shots. Going back home and get DVD with all the pictures of the event is great, if we were 10 years ago. Now we need 6 to 12 pictures on-line straight away. And they better be worth our client time. It is pointless to inundate a client with many pictures when really one good one would have strengthen the bond with our brand. Of course then quantity can varies from your publishing media: Facebook, website, product review, etc etc. But we have noticed the magic numbers 6 to 12 still applies. Facebook tends to be pictures eager but funny enough, it is all about freshness, is therefore best to publish 3 images everyday than not 12 in a single go. As mentioned quality is the key here, also because a big quantity of images means devaluating the message that each single image can rely about your brand. It is difficult to create emotionally charged images, therefore publishing less is a safer strategy to not disillusion your client.
MOTORSPORT vs DIGITAL
Another interesting aspect to be noted is that motorsport is demanding, the pace in which we produce content is probably equal only to the digital industry, only we do it with touchable products. We race during the season and we improve our products so often that is difficult to keep up with the right images. An extra difficulty comes from our “playground” taking pictures at the event is somewhat psychically straining. In the past to get different “angles” I hired photographers coming from different background, most of them ended the event thinking that we are crazy, the ones that lasted where the wildlife photographers used to a harsh environment. Once I got told: ” it is like to have to chase a gazelle in the desert, only here there is a new gazelle every other second”. If we also talk about product shots at shows and events, the light, the natural “last minute” attitude of the motorsport industry pushes to difficult situation. What we have found is therefore best to use photographers well used to motorsport. You may not get your striking pictures but you are at least assured to get something at all.
FAKE vs REAL
Another common myth of the motorsport industry is that companies/brands just want to put a sticker on a car going fast around the racetrack. Well, actually what companies want is to use the emotional bound that motorsport can seal between the brand and its stakeholders. This is also the key to understand what sort of pictures are companies after: the real ones. The ones you cannot buy! What do I mean? certainly not a guy dressed with an overall pretending to be a racing driver. Companies prefer a proper racing driver with worn out gloves, a guy that cry and laugh. This is what we want when taking pictures for motorsport. We want to see that hug after the race between the driver and the race engineer or maybe the mechanic sleeping in the night at the 24h. We want dirty fingers, sweaty foreheads and ugly faces fixing in a split second that broken car. Of course branded content must be there, but it needs to be a consequence of a particular good subject. It cannot be the subject per se. A logo on its own is nothing to build an emotional relationship with our client. A logo placed in an adrenaline-charged image is our winner.
Do we still need to invest on pictures? YES. And do we still need to hire photographer? Unfortunately so! These will create good quality shots that can be used for our marketing materials. What though are we meant to embrace is the use of our phone to capture the behind the scene. These are the shots that we will need to update on our social channels and here a photographer will be of little use as the moments these shots are taken are usually when the official photographer is not present. Per definition behind the scene content cannot be captured by a professional photographer.