Budget and Time Issues? Don’t Sacrifice Quality


Let’s get something straight:

Having a limited budget or being short on time is not a good enough reason to sacrifice quality.

“Champagne taste on a beer budget” is a problem that requires a creative solution. One of the biggest mistakes made in marketing efforts is to exclude creative partners from the budget and time conversations.

You never know what a creative can do unless you ask.

We frequently have clients state, “Listen, we have this project, but we only have X amount of dollars to spend or X amount of time to complete it. What are our options?” Our creative juices start flowing, and we figure out a way to help them.

Why? To us, quality – and our clients – matter.

Have budget and time issues? Here are a few tips to get you started on a creative solution:

If you have a long shot list, but a small budget:

  1. Check your efficiency. Establish a movement plan that flows from location to location rather than chopping up locations. This helps keep setup time between shots to a minimum.
  2. Focus on your needs rather than your wants. You don’t want to end up with 600 images that you didn’t need. Come prepared with a shot list, and prioritize your needs.
  3. Know your purpose. Create a mock up brochure or web page to get positioning and composition right (orientation, scale, usage, tone).
  4. Be realistic about what you can accomplish.

If you are short on time:

  1. Break up your shoot. We had a client that only had a few hours each day to get a photographer in the machinist area. We made several visits in two to four hour increments to capture their shot list.
  2. Have a designated person from your staff to help organize people and stage the space. This will allow the photographer and the assistant to worry about creating the image rather than taking extra time to hunt people down or stage the area.
  3. Don’t be afraid of the strobes. More gear does not always mean more time. Professional lighting allows for more control. Remote flashes can take more time because they can be finicky.

If the client says, “Just shoot it. I don’t want to pay too much:”

  1. I suggest therapy.

Mary Lou likes to say, “I can pull my own tooth, but should I do it?” You are hiring a time honored professional – work with them and value them.

We have a steadfast rule at Coyle: Quality in, Quality out. That may make us perfectionists, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t work with our clients to fit their budget needs or time constraints. Want to know what we’re capable of? Just ask.

8 Architectural Photography Tips from the Experts (Hint: It’s not us)

web Final North Point UnderArmour Univ of MD Oct 2015 DSC_2276 Coyle Studios

Architectural photography is a diverse and intricate field. We can get technical and give insight from behind the lens, but we’re not going to do that in this post. Instead, we asked eight experts in different fields to give us their insight on architectural photography and their tips on succeeding with your next photography project.

(It’s a long one, but it’s so worth it).

Not all photographers are created equal.

When advertising an apartment community, we need to be able to connect with a prospective resident with our websites, brochures, and many times, in non-verbal ways. Today’s renters are making decisions on their mobile devices and for us, this means grabbing them with the best photos. In searching for an architectural photographer, we look for someone who is passionate to capture the details of our communities. We make it a point to focus on three separate categories when shooting an apartment community – exterior, common areas, and interiors. Finding a photographer that understands the correct time of day to get the perfect exterior shot but can also capture the spaciousness of a 1 bedroom apartment is difficult. Not all professional photographers are created equal when advertising your apartment. Getting the perfect shots of an apartment sized bathroom takes real talent, patience, and skill.

Steve Margerum, Cove Property Management

Find someone who has “seen the movie” and be clear with your needs.

In looking for a photographer, I look for someone experienced in my area of expertise, which happens to be commercial real estate. I want someone who has “seen the movie” and does not have to gain experience at my time or expense. In hiring a photographer, I want to know four things: experience in my industry, estimated time to do the job, estimated cost, and when the work can be completed. For me, those are the “big four” questions to ask.

Make sure you are clear as to what you are trying to accomplish, what are your needs. Sometimes photography is needed for a financing package. Sometimes it is needed for leasing and marketing. Sometimes it is needed as part of a presentation to attract investors. Make clear to the photographer the intended use of the images.

Robert Manekin, JLL

Look for a photographer that is creative and understands that it’s all about the lighting!

Some of the qualities that I look for in a photographer are the ability to think outside the box and of course, creativity. When photographing a building or structure, there are so many dynamics that come into play such as orientation of the subject in relation to the position of the sun, the time of day the subject is photographed, and the time of year. It’s all about the lighting!

A few questions you can ask: 1. Ask to see some recent examples of their body of work. 2. Do they engage in any other type of digital media? 3. What’s their favorite thing to photograph? 4. Are they flexible as to what days and times they can be available to photograph?

Ronnie Brouillard, Kinsley Construction

Get technical with your photographer.

When discussing our particular job requirements for a commercial or residential photography session, we usually outline what we are looking for in more than a list of questions. We discuss angles, subject matter, time of day, obstacles, final use of the photography, and the overall marketing strategy.

It is important to know your subject matter in order to work successfully with a photographer. You must understand your property’s positive attributes as well as its challenges in order to produce the best results. We have developed checklists for our residential teams to prepare for a photographer visit, and we ensure communication with our property managers on commercial sites to ensure the center and its tenants are ready for the shoot.

Belinda Torres, Continental Realty Corporation


You are your best advocate. Get hands on.

Go to the photo shoot. You know your firm’s brand, your audience, how you will use the photos, and the story you’ll want to the pictures to tell. You’ll also be there as another set of eyes to make sure some obscure item, such as an untidy bookshelf or uneven window shade, is not the focal point. (You want to direct the viewer’s eye to the best part of the building or space first.) When there, be sure to look at the view through the camera lens, too, to double check all of the above. If your photographer doesn’t like you to tag along, find someone who does. There are lots of them that do. Taking good photography is just like a successful design project. It comes from knowing what you want to achieve, a vigilant attention to details, and working with a photographer who enjoys collaborating with you, the client.

Diane Stahl, Rubeling & Associates

Capturing the craftsmanship of a building is important (but so is photograph usage).

Look for a photographer who will create an image that portrays the project in a positive and beautiful manner to enhance the true design and craftsmanship of the building or constructed feature. Easy access to photographs and unencumbered use of the work is very important to the client. Find out who owns the photographs and ask the photographer if they have been published.

Ken Wingate, North Point Builders

Photos of your work are your best sales tool.

For Interior Designers, photos of our work are our best sales tool. I think a common goal amongst design firms is to have our work published. It’s so important to work with the photographer and develop a shot that is magazine/website worthy. It’s a good idea to study publications and see the composition of why you are drawn to a particular photo, then discuss it with your photographer to you both understand what you are trying to achieve.

Jackie Bayer, Emerald Hill Interiors

It pays to have good quality photographs of your work.

Project photography is the only method of conveying your firm’s capability to potential clients without making a site visit. It pays to have good quality photographs of your work. Look for a photographer who understands how to translate the built environment to a two dimensional image using the right perspectives and lighting in the images. We also look for someone who is capable of post-production work to bring out the best in each photograph.

Elle Ellis, Ammon Heisler Sachs architects, PC

Colorful Living Room

Want to see more tips from experts? Learn a few photography tips from marketing directors and gain insight from graphic designers.

Getting Down and Dirty: Thoughts from “The Assistant”

2016 marks my four year anniversary at Coyle Studios. Below, you’ll see a photo taken on my first day of work and a more recent photo from a shoot in March.

2012 2016

I look so happy in 2012. Why do I look so disenfranchised in 2016? Because of crap like this:


Being part of the photography process is hardly ever glamorous and sexy. There are long days, and we’re usually moving on a mission. Coming into this role was a baptism by fire, so I want to share a few observations I’ve had about assisting with you.

You need to be willing to get down and dirty.

See that above picture? Assisting with John means lying on floors and hiding in corners stabilizing three light stands. It means holding flashes for minutes that drag on for hours. You have to keep one eye on the shot that’s happening and one eye on the next shot. So if we’re on a shoot and I looked slightly harassed, it’s because I am.

“Assistant” is often synonymous with “amateur model.”

In four years, I’ve been a breathalyzer tester, dental patient, legal client, and a hospital patient for multiple doctors. My hands have appeared in a number of photos. I’m a professional “lighting tester.” If you need an extra body in front of a camera quick, pull the photography assistant.


Hone your people skills, and hone them quick.

We photographed a law firm last year and one of the shots was taken in the lobby of the building our client was renting. Right after setup, the property manager came out and told us we had to shut it down. John said to me, “I need you to handle this.” I apologized to the manager, said that I had no idea we were violating policy, and could we please have 5 minutes to get the shot as this was a big client for BOTH of us. He walked away for 5 minutes, and we were gone when he came back. Being diplomatic and having a strict “ask for forgiveness” policy goes a long way in photography.


Car rides with John are some of the best times I’ve had on the job.

John spots some of the funniest signs on trucks and gas station boards. He’ll talk about Big Foot while driving through two states, and he’s always up for a post-shoot beer. I get to simultaneously live out my dream of having a chauffeur and hanging out with my friend.

john brynn

If the opportunity strikes, get a funny photo.

We like to tease people. I sent this to my mom with a caption that said, “So this is how my day went.” She was mildly amused after I told her I was fine.


Being a professional lighting tester requires a certain amount of creative genius.


This guy doesn’t get it…


J.M. Barrie said, “Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.” While I would rather do anything than lie on a foyer floor of an apartment complex, I truly enjoy working on these shoots.

Easier Said Than Done: Building a Brand Through Photos


When I was younger, my mother told me that the most valuable thing I’d ever own is my reputation. I lived in a town where everyone knew everything about everyone, and gossip was king. Did I want to be remembered for being honest, kind, and trustworthy, or did I want to be remembered for being a “Queen Bee” nasty girl?

In business, reputation is called branding – big league storytelling.

Marketers and communicators build brands by telling stories through visuals, content, and design. They highlight the qualities that make companies attractive and unique to their audience. Our job is to focus on the imagery. With every photo shoot, we are helping a company build the most valuable thing they own – their brand.

This is easier said than done. Successful brands implement a strategy to their imagery. How can you do that?

Create a guideline.

Every brand needs a style guide to maintain consistency. It is easy to pick out an Under Armour or GAP image because they have a unique, easily recognizable look. Pick out the keywords from your story and figure out how that works visually. Is your company bright, colorful, dramatic or monochromatic? Should your images reveal actual clients or should you use a model for a polished look? Do you have to have that branded coffee cup (pen, shirt, whatever) in every shot? A clear guideline alleviates the stress of image creation and keeps everyone focused on the same story.

Think. Think really hard.

Images for websites and marketing collateral have to be grand slams. These photos need to be strong and impactful in order to drive home the key points of a brand. Social media and blog photos are quick sells as they are in someone’s feed for a second. These images are the supporting acts for the website meant to humanize a brand. Ask yourself: Where is the image going? What is its purpose? What part of the story am I telling?

The epic battle: Stock vs. Custom

We will always, always tell you to go custom. We recently heard from a large institution’s marketing vice president. He used a stock photograph on the cover of every quarterly magazine. He held his breath every time the publication came out, waiting for one of his competitors to use the identical image on their quarterly covers. Stock photography has its good points (relatively low cost, noninvasive), but you take a risk of being on the “Who Wore it Better?” list. Are you trying to be bold at the Gala, or are you trying to fit in with the crowd? Custom photography will allow you to tell your unique story and set the trend.

We’ve all heard the cliché that “A picture is worth 1,000 words.” Using an image that doesn’t fit your brand is a wasted opportunity. If your brand is the most valuable thing you own, can you afford to waste that impact? What kind of picture is your company painting?

From “American Pickers” to Baltimore: Restoring the Mount Royal Sign

Mount Royal sign

Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.” – Princess Diana

John may not be Princess Di (although, he looks amazing in a tiara), but he lives by this philosophy of kindness. If you put good vibes out in the universe, good vibes may come back to you. This idea of being kind and thoughtful extends beyond family and friends. We’ve seen him get to know a homeless wanderer on Northern Parkway and offer her rides whenever he saw her. John likes to look out for people – especially our clients.

Here is an example:

While watching American Pickers last year, John saw the original sign to the Mount Royal Hotel in Baltimore. Two months prior to watching the show, John photographed the Mount Royal for Cove Property Management.

Mind blown, right?

Mike and Frank (the pickers on the show) didn’t get the sign, so John passed along the show information to Steve at Cove. After some internet sleuthing, Steve was able to contact the owner and purchased the sign.

Steve brought the sign to our studio for preservation and custom framing. The sign was dirty, fragile and heavy. Our team worked wonders to stabilize and secure it for display.

sign details

It was an honor to pass this information along to Steve and help restore the original sign to the Mount Royal. When it comes to our clients, the team at Coyle always strives to go above and beyond peoples’ expectations. This idea of being kind and thoughtful is not a strategy tactic – it is genuine and the root of our culture.


How to Prepare for a Photo Shoot (Tip 1: Don’t let the engineers get you down)

One stressful part of a marketer’s job is organizing a photo shoot. It doesn’t matter if a company needs portraits, product photography, or intricate marketing photos – there is a thought pattern that runs through every marketer’s mind before a shoot.

How do we portray this piece of abstract technology?

Does “x” convey our level of dedication?

Will this shot help us differentiate ourselves from the pack?

How are we going to shoot all of this?

What have I signed up for?

The comic strip Dilbert loves to pick on the marketing department. Look at this strip from 2010:

 - Dilbert by Scott Adams

Our goal is to help marketers avoid the photo/video shoot stress-trap. While we can’t get rid of the engineers (no, not even for that much money), we can give you tips on how to coordinate a shoot while keeping your sanity somewhat intact.

Develop a plan and agenda. Think about your needs and wants. What is the point of the shoot? What are we trying to capture? As much as you want to shoot “off the cuff” and roll with whatever looks good in the moment, a plan will help ensure that everyone’s needs and wants are met in a streamlined manner. Brainstorm with your team to generate a number of ideas and narrow your focus from there. We can help you narrow your focus by telling you what will and will not look good on camera through scouting.

Know the off limit areas in advance. This could be a room that is designated for a major meeting during the shoot or a piece of equipment that has proprietary technology that needs to be protected from shifty competitors. As photographers, we often subscribe to the “ask for forgiveness rather than permission” philosophy, but knowing your boundaries ahead of time will alleviate day of meltdowns.

Communicate with the staff in advance. I cannot stress how important it is to communicate with the staff before the photographer shows up. There may be people that are not cooperative and don’t want to be “inconvenienced.” Explain to them that we only need them/their space for a short time and their cooperation will speed up the process. Ask the staff to be flexible and take note of the people who are eager to jump in as a last minute model. We recently photographed a company that had an extremely flexible staff. We ended up ahead of schedule and were able to add extra portraits/a group photo to the list.

Have a day-of point person. Again, super essential: Having a point person to work with the photographer allows us to focus on what we do best – making you (and your company) look like a rockstar.

Be realistic. Know your staff and your shot list. Trying to fit as much as possible into a full day usually ends up putting unnecessary stress on you and the photographer.  We want to be efficient, but we don’t want our clients to walk away with feelings of failure. We don’t mind splitting up a shoot into half days or other combinations to accommodate your space and staffing schedules.

Know your “once-in-a-lifetime” shots. Is there someone that is hard to nail down for a photo? Is there a piece of equipment that is available for a limited amount of time? Make note of this ahead of time. We can either photograph it first or keep it as a hard time slot on the schedule.

Of course, it is easier to read “how to” and plan all of this than it is to implement. There is no such thing as a “perfect shoot.” Life and people are unpredictable, and things happen. Hopefully, these tips will help you rise above the stressors of working in a Dilbert-esque environment and elevate your experience with the photo shoot.


(Comic via Dilbert)

Trash Pickers and Stay at Home Moms: On Running a Small Business


In between portraits, on a beautiful day, you will find John outside. You may think he’s taking photos or enjoying the weather. In reality, he’s picking up trash on our neighbor’s property to keep our studio area looking clean.

When their son Johnny is sick, Mary Lou stays home. She curls up on the couch with her sick baby and VPNs into the studio to work on restoration projects or answer emails. (Thank God for VPN.)

There are times where you will find Brynn on a photo shoot with John using one phone to negotiate a new photo shoot and check emails with the other.

Running a successful small business isn’t as idyllic and simple as people may think.

This isn’t a post to complain or preach. It is easy to open up shop and say, “I have a business.” There are people that do not understand the time, effort, and creativity needed to not only run a business, but make it prosper.

For Coyle, our goal is to go beyond the dollars and create a thriving, meaningful community. How do we do that? What goes in to cultivating a culture that drives a small team toward excellence?

Understand that owning a property comes with responsibilities. When a blizzard hits and drops 30 inches of snow, you are the ones responsible for digging out the driveway (even after the plows have blocked you in).  You are the one in charge of property maintenance and insurance. Our team spent most of last summer repairing and painting the front porch as well as renovating the offices. Working in an environment that we can be proud of is important to us.

Create a team that is willing to wear more than one hat. Mary Lou is our president. The title comes with prestige, but she is in the trenches working on restorations, meeting with clients, and scrubbing out the toilets. Our Master Photographer is John, but he is also our groundskeeper, building repair man, and messenger. Brynn not only keeps tracks of everyone’s whereabouts, but negotiates contracts, handles Quickbooks, assists on photo shoots, and cleans out the stuff in the back of the fridge. If everyone had one job, we wouldn’t be able to function. The words “That’s above my pay-grade” or “That’s not my job” will evoke rage in John that is rarely seen.

Teamwork is essential. If everyone is performing multiple functions, then the team members need to be able to support each other when necessary. Effective teamwork eliminates the risk of miscommunications and allows the job to get done efficiently. Now, this doesn’t always happen. Sometimes the pressure builds up, and epic battles ensue. However, our goal is to work together to deliver an excellent product and experience for our team and client.

Understand the pros and cons of running a business. Owning a small business gives you complete control and responsibility. Going through cancer treatment and having a child with severe medical issues would be next to impossible in a traditional, corporate job. Owning a business gives us the freedom to work from home when necessary or block out time for surgeries and recovery. We don’t have a board to answer to, and we can control our corporate message in a way most companies cannot. Having a small team allows communication to flow so that everyone can handle a potential emergency effectively.

On the flip side, there is the possibility of never having a day off. John has worked through his son’s surgeries and cancer. Both Brynn and John worked through the recent passing of their fathers. Mary Lou always takes her laptop and notebook with her to Johnny’s doctor’s appointments. When the two of them are out, Brynn is holding down the fort. Everyone is on call during vacations.

The stresses can be overwhelming and can make you want to throw in the towel. So why do it?

We love our work – even the crazy parts.  

It may make us a freak show to some people, but the community we have created is what keeps us going. When we work with a client, we treat them like they are a part of our family because they are a part of our family. Our clients are amazing and deserve to work with a company that cares about them.

That is the ultimate meaning behind Coyle Studios: community.

Lessons in Flight: My First Aerial Photography Shoot

Mary Lou and John like to joke about aerial photography. Mary Lou tells everyone that John dangles out of planes in order to get the right shot. John talks to people about his “cowboy pilot” that flies a 1966 Cessna like a “bucking bronco” and takes turns that make John go, “Whoa!”

The way they talk about it, you’d think John was like Sean Penn in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. In the movie, Sean Penn is an eccentric photographer that takes photos while standing on a plane flying toward and erupting volcano. He’s a lunatic.

Our subject matter is tamer than volcanoes, but John has a little of that lunatic streak.

I was able to witness the aerial process a few weeks ago when I went on my first aerial shoot with John.  We were in Greenville, SC to photograph a hotel. The flight taught me many, many things.

Flying is cold and windy. I had been warned prior to the flight that it would be cold, but I didn’t know it was the kind of cold that chills your bones. When John opened the window, I felt like a dog that stuck its head out of the window of a moving vehicle. Cheeks were flapping and spit was flying. The pilot was concerned about the temperature and asked how I was doing. John said, “Eh, she’s fine. I like torturing Brynn from time to time.” (Note to self: Get John back for this).

Greenville SC Feb 2016 DSC_5513 Coyle Studios 6MP

John really does hang out of the plane. He’s not “hanging out” like he’s in a circus act, but he was out of that plane in a way that makes normal people uncomfortable. The plane tipped from side to side at certain moments – you know, turning and things. In order to avoid the wings or get the right angle, John had to lean out the window. Head and shoulders were out of the window, people. There is a reason that cameras have a strap on them, and that strap was secure around his neck. I couldn’t get a good photo of him leaning out of the plane, but here is a photo of our fearless photographer:

fearless photographer

The pilot can be an essential creative tool. Our pilot, Dimitrios, was phenomenal. He understood the scope of the shoot and was more than willing to change the route whenever John asked. His insight into the area was invaluable and gave John a few ideas on how to show relation between the hotel and Greenville. Dimitrios kept an eye out for different perspectives and cloud movement for John. He made the process easy and smooth.(Side note: I’m very grateful that we did not fly with the cowboy pilot).


There is no such thing as too many photos in an aerial shoot. No two pictures are the same when it comes to aerial. It is an uncontrolled environment. The pilot is flying you in circles, and you may not be able to get that perspective again. Cloud movement can block the sunlight. Equipment changes can slow you down. Basically, window open means the camera doesn’t stop.

Greenville SC Feb 2016 DSC_5235 Coyle Studios 6MP


Now, for the big question: Would I do it again? Eh, maybe in a warmer time of year. It was fascinating to see John’s process and fully understand the effort that goes into making an aerial shoot a success.

I think it might be more fun to fly our new drone.

Only “Real” Photographers Shoot with Film (and other bogus statements)


If you keep up with photography blogs, you’ll see a topic come along that goes something like this:

“168,434 reasons why I shoot with film – AND YOU SHOULD TOO!”

The author will tout how amazing they are for shooting in film and make you believe that only a real photographer shoots film.

Barf, right?

However, this makes for an interesting argument. Hipsters and poseur photographers aren’t the only ones that use film. There are professional photographers who shoot exclusively in film. Star Wars: The Force Awakens was shot with Kodak. (Side note: if you want a truly interesting debate, ask John about Han in the end of the film).

Why? Why do people use something that seems archaic and outdated to non-photographers?

Film’s quality is unprecedented. It is superior to digital in so many ways. The detail that can be captured with film is unmatched because it has more latitude, the resolution is higher, and it is hard to over-expose. Film can be manipulated by chemical processing in a way that digital cannot. Ansel Adams would have had a hard time creating those iconic images using digital methods.

Digital cameras try to parallel themselves with film, but it falls short.  Digital is limited in pixel count and has a harder time capturing the minuscule details that film can easily capture. You can’t recover or add information that is lost in over-exposing and under-exposing digital images.

Shooting with film makes for better photographers. It requires a complete understanding of light and its relationship to the environment/subject. A film photographer can calculate in their head where light falls and changes over distance in relationship to natural light to artificial light to strobe lighting. Digital trained photographers have a harder path to excellence because they lack this practical experience.

If film is so great, why don’t we use it?

If John had his way, we would use a hybrid of film and digital for shoots that require tremendous detail (i.e. architecture and fine art). We do not use it because there isn’t a demand for it. Clients are used to instant delivery, and film processing takes too much time. Marketing departments are working within a budget and a surcharge for film and processing is unnecessary.

Digital photography allows our clients to have complete creative control if they need it. Instant review gives both the photographer and client a chance to see their images in real time and give feedback.  Most of our clients are not professional photographers and love to have the opportunity to collaborate with John to get the perfect image.

Using film in photography is not essential to being an elite photographer or creating stunning images. It isn’t the act of shooting with film that makes a photographer great.  It is the understanding of how film photography works that makes a photographer great. Saying only real photographers use film is like saying only real surgeons cut open every patient.

It’s a garbage statement.

Get Lost Amazon. “What If Business, Perhaps, Means a Little Bit More?”

Get Lost Amazon. “What If Business, Perhaps, Means a Little Bit More?”

This year, I decided to have a “No Amazon” Christmas.

Yes, I’m aware that this is a ridiculous declarative statement.

In years past, I’ve relied on Amazon to help me get through the holidays. I’m always late to the game in purchasing presents. Amazon’s “amazing deals” and quick delivery have been a saving grace to this working professional who would rather jump off of a bridge than step foot into a mall after Thanksgiving. (Holiday retail is a special kind of hell, and I’m not dealing with those parking garages. I won’t.)

This year, I came to terms with the fact that I’ve become lazy, and Amazon usually doesn’t have amazing deals on the things I need to buy. Instead, I decided to be better than Amazon. I set out to find quality gifts that make an impact while staying within my budget.

True Story: I was successful.

In changing my mindset, I was able to find unique gifts that I’m excited to give. It was less about snagging the best deal and more about turning a commodity into human interaction. MY thoughts and feelings are behind each of these gifts (as all gift giving should be).

In the professional services world, the direct opposite is happening. Consumers are turning professional services into commodities. The human aspect of business is being lost through commoditization. Our contributors touched on this a little bit in our last post, but it’s a concern we are hearing from all businesses – small and large.

I have an amazing dentist that someone recommended to me. He has five different degrees and has won various awards (including a Rhodes scholarship). This dentist cares so much about his patients that instead of subbing the work out to another dentist, he worked through a broken hip, surgery, and physical therapy.

How are you supposed to convey that level of commitment, Google?!

These professionals are being reduced to websites and newsletters. Consumers are looking for flash and low prices while hoping for quality and excellent service. They want to be educated but not sold to, and they don’t want to develop a relationship with a real person. They will do independent research (i.e.- hunt) for the best deal at a great price. This research will actually cause consumers to do themselves a disservice because they’re buying into a marketing ploy instead of getting a real deal (or answers).

Not all consumers want to work and explore avenues other than Amazon. Not all consumers are willing to see past the flash and get to know a company.

What’s the solution? How does a business retain humanity while playing the flashy website and “deals” game?

Our job is to help get past this barrier and show the humanity in business. We use our pictures to tell a real story. Custom photography is a way to show potential and current clients that you are behind the website, newsletter, etc. It takes that team of developers, designers, writers, and photographers to beat the game and show consumers the real you.

There will always be a lightning deal and someone flashier out there. Focus on how to humanize your business and create a positive impact instead of commoditizing it.

As the Dr. Seuss said, “It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store? What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more.”