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Whenever a question about using stock images versus employee photos comes up, the employer brand community’s overwhelming response is to use employee photos. Using real employees -- in true to life workplace scenarios -- supports the authenticity of an organization’s unique employment experience. However, while some employer brand professionals abhor stock photography, many often find themselves with a limited internal library of high quality, high resolution photos to use.
What is an employer brand manager to do when the demand for authentic photos is high but the supply is low? Three photo solutions immediately come to mind; you could:
Run an employee generated photo contest to source new images
Use internal resources to set up the employee photo shoot
Partner with a professional to support the photo shoot from planning to post production
Whether you’re more of a DIY employer brand strategist or able to use outside photography resources, when it comes to employee photo shoots, there are the basic tasks that must be done. First, you’ll need to get approval from leadership to use real employees and not models or stock images.
Next, begin checking these off your to do list:
Select employees, and ensure managers and HR approve
Have employees sign the photo/model release form given to you by Legal
Pick your office locations and scout out specific places to set up the shoot
Have a shot list of the types of images you need now and in the future
Schedule the shoot and put meeting blocks on employees calendars
Prep your employees for the day on what to wear and what not to wear
OK, so those are the basics. Now, what if you could take your photos to the next level?
When you have a holistic employer brand strategy, everything can connect back to it -- including the photos from your photo shoot. Your strategy informs your messaging which can be brought to life through compelling visuals which can then be pulled into your recruitment, social and channel marketing executions. This is how you go from random to strategic.
When thoughtfully planned, each captured moment can visually support your organization’s employer brand strategy. (<-- Click to tweet!)
For example, let’s say your organization provides concierge services and one pillar of your employer brand is “personalized approach.” Work with your photographer to identify how you can bring that pillar to life in an authentic way. Perhaps your company is a mega-retailer that wants to amplify its “social responsibility” pillar. Work with your photographer to get high-resolution photos of employees actively giving back during real events. Or, maybe you manage the employer brand for a healthcare organization and want to amplify the “making a difference” pillar. Work with your photographer to capture candid moments of employees doing just that.
Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan
Strategy and Preparation Go Hand in Hand
Let’s face it: photographers and photo shoots can be quite expensive. To get the most bang for your buck, strategy and preparation are key to a successful employee photo shoot. Understanding your organization’s unique and authentic employment experience is foundational to informing the types of photos you need. And planning as much as you can before the shoot is foundational to photo shoot success.
In addition to creating a shot list with purpose, you may want to consider the following:
Writing a creative brief to further inform stakeholders and photographer
Setting up pre-meetings with employees to get them comfortable with how the photo shoot should go
Hiring a hair stylist and/or makeup artist to be onsite during the shoot
Making the employees feel as comfortable as possible by playing their favorite playlist during the photo shoot
Throughout the strategy, planning and day-of chaos, you could wear many hats: greeter, advisor, coffee runner, grip, gaffer, lunch getter, nerve calmer, creative director or assistant. At the end of the shoot, after someone says “that’s a wrap,” just know the work you’re doing will help tell your organization’s story and attract talent. But you’ve got to think about the bigger picture -- after all, it’s more than a photo shoot. It’s part of your strategy.
Tell us: what’s your best employee photo shoot tip? Share it below and include your Twitter handle for a social media shout out.
Shannon Smedstad (@shannonsmedstad) is a Principal Employer Brand Strategist for exaqueo, an employer brand experience firm building employer brands and the talent strategies that drive them through research, consulting and creative and digital execution. Contact exaqueo to learn more about our employer brand innovation, workforce research and recruiting strategy offerings.