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Medical Alley Association serves the individuals and organizations that comprise Minnesota's health industry by influencing policy, fostering connections and providing critical intelligence to improve the quality of health around the world.

Medical Alley Association serves the individuals and organizations that comprise Minnesota's health industry by influencing policy, fostering connections and providing critical intelligence to improve the quality of health around the world.

A picture is worth a thousand words

When it comes to marketing your company and its products or services, good photography really can make a difference!

Established healthcare and medical device companies know the value of a good photograph to promote products and technologies or services.  Fact sheets, brochures, websites – even white papers – look far more appealing when photos are shown alongside the text.  They can help explain and illustrate the most complicated processes and materials to audiences at all levels of knowledge and sophistication.

Today’s digital cameras can make anyone a photographer, and sometimes a company can get by with a quick “point-and-shoot” picture taken by an engineer, a lab tech or product marketer.   But when does it make sense to spend the money on really good photography taken by a professional?

When to hire a good photographer

Strengthening the brand is one very good reason, and one way to do that is through consistency in the look and feel of photography.  Is the lighting the same throughout the product line?  What about product angles?  Is the background treatment alike from one photo to the next?

Sometimes the brand is supported with photography that can provide emotional appeal.

“Good photography captures a moment. It helps people relate to your brand messages on an emotional level,” said Lisa Forsell of 3M’s Infection Prevention Division.  “A photo of a caregiver interacting with a patient can come across powerfully if the photographer is able to capture the expressions on the faces at just the right moment.  An experienced photographer will bring together all the required elements—the timing, the lighting, authentic interactions between subjects, an artist’s eye—to communicate in an image what cannot be said with words, which in turn lends credibility to your products and helps you stand out from the crowd.” 

Mom Kiss Book

Photo by Scott Knutson.

Things to consider when hiring a photographer

Besides a consistent brand strategy that shows your products at their best what are some other things to think about when hiring a photographer?  You’ll save yourself a lot of time and money – and ensure a quality photograph – when you consider these tips:

1. Specialties: Even with professionals, there are vast differences in experience and specialties.  If you need shots of medical products being used in a lab, operating room or other type of environment, seek out photographers who have had prior experience in that area.

2. Look at their portfolio: Can the photographer shoot products in a variety of different environments?  What about the speed of moving parts?  Can they capture reflections, metals, transparent materials and other challenging aspects that are important product features? Can they show how your product is constructed if that is an important selling feature?

Conventus Orthopaedics developed the Cage™, an innovative 3 dimensional fracture management system.  The Cage™ is designed to expand within the bone and prevent further collapse of the fracture by providing a rigid internal scaffold.  “Through professional photography, we could fully showcase the intricacies of its design – especially how the screws and cage interface,” said Jane Lehman, Marketing Specialist.

Side Angle 3

Photo by Pat Barry.

3. If the photography needs to be shot on location do they understand the requirements of shooting in a clean room, a laboratory or other environment where safety or other standards are in place?   You don’t want to spend time training them!

4. Do they require a time minimum?  Some studios will charge by the day or half day, others charge by the hour.  It’s good to know that upfront so you don’t have any surprises when you see the bill!

5. Ask your photographer how long they archive images.  File space can be expensive and it may be that the photographer does not store images for an extended length of time.   Once they deliver the files to you, they may no longer archive the images.  Or, they’ll keep them for a few months but no more.

These tips are handy to keep on hand when looking for a photographer.  But fees are also important. 

A breakdown of photography fees:

Ask for an estimate if you have not worked with the photographer before.  Here’s what could be included:

a. Photographer’s fee:   this is the photographer’s time and may vary depending on their experience, whether the shoot is in the studio, on location, etc.  They may charge by the hour, a half day, a full day or by project.

b. Photo assistant: some photo shoots are more involved and require the help of an assistant.  He or she can help speed up the shoot and simply provide more arms and legs when hauling equipment, arranging lights, managing digital files, etc.

c. Trip charge: this is the cost to and from a photo shoot if it is on location

d. Backgrounds: photographers may need to shoot your product on a certain backdrop.  Chances are, the product may be shot on white and then outlined so it can be dropped into a catalog, sell sheet or other medium.

e. Talent: are models needed to demonstrate or show off the product?  Fees may vary if the image requires just hands, feet or full figure. 

f. Location: Photo shoots done in a studio are usually included in the photographer’s fee unless he or she doesn’t have a studio and needs to rent one.  Photo shoots done at a particular location (if it isn’t your office or facility) will most likely charge a location usage fee.  In some cases, a professional scout is needed to find the right location, secure permits, etc.

g. Post production fee: this generally covers converting the raw capture file into a usable file format and includes some basic retouching and file optimization.

h. Buyout/usage: This is often a misunderstood and confusing part of photography, and it can vary greatly among photographers.  Some studios will invoice for the shoot and images, then also invoice for usage: print, web, local only or national exposure, and so on.  The usage fee has a time limit, often about one year. A few photographers will invoice for a “Total Buyout” which is very expensive but allows the client to use the images indefinitely for any purpose.  A third and less expensive option is “unlimited usage.” The client can use the produced images for their company indefinitely but restricts the transfer or sale of those images to a third party.

i. While it may seem expensive to hire a professional, remember that most professional photographers have had years of training and understand how to get good photography under a variety of circumstances.  From products shot in a controlled studio environment to the logistics and environmental hazards of a location shoot in a hospital or laboratory, a good photographer will be aware of and plan accordingly so you will get the best photos at a fair price.  And the price spent on good photography can be well worth it.

“Our agency had to capture the inner workings of a medical suture thread for one of our clients.  Being able to show this in a photograph instead of an illustration saved us hours of time and money,” said Jim Zimmer of Zimmer Madich, a marketing agency based in Eden Prairie, MN. 

061 Phantom Fiber Cover

Photo by Pat Barry

Ultimately, professional photography can be a critical component to your marketing message and to your company’s image as well.   It’s definitely something to consider when launching a new product or technology!

Byline:  Peggy Weller is an account manager with InsideOut Studios in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.  The studio has provided marketing photography and video for medical/health care clients throughout Minnesota and the United States.  For more information, please contact her at mail@insideoutstudios.com