Strong visuals are often the key to creating an engaging website. And nothing creates a stronger emotional connection with visitors than beautifully shot photos of people. For law firms, this often means photos of your attorneys “in action” (i.e., meeting, talking, collaborating).
If done well, attorney action-shots can be striking. And they can portray attorneys as smart, energetic, and engaged. That said, getting a photo shoot right isn’t easy.
Attorneys aren’t models. Actual offices aren’t always exquisite. And politics often comes into play. This means that if you aren't careful, the photos that end up on your site could fall far short of the glorious samples you approved.
So, how do you get it right? Below are some hard-learned tips. They are the culmination of 20 years of art-directing attorney photo shoots.
1. The larger the room, the better.
Large rooms almost always equate to better photos. Extra space means that the photographer has the freedom to move the camera (and the people) to compose the perfect shot. Furthermore, a large room allows the photographer to achieve a background blur, which can elegantly obscure the humdrum look of a generic conference room.
2. Try peering into a room.
The most engaging photos are the ones that make you feel like you’re in the same space as the subjects. One way to achieve this is to place the camera outside of a room, looking in. If done right, the viewer will feel like they could walk through the doorway and sit alongside the people in the picture.
3. Blur some people.
One way to create an engaging, authentic look is to blur people in the foreground. This helps make the viewer feel like they are part of the photo. Furthermore, it can signal “collaboration” in a novel way (as opposed to a group of attorneys around a conference room table).
4. Pair coworkers.
The best way to get authentic-looking photos of people working together is to photograph actual coworkers. If the subjects know each other, they will appear more relaxed—the key to great photos.
Pro tip: for extra-authentic shots, encourage people to bring actual work materials and discuss pending cases during the shoot. They’ll forget that the camera is there.
5. Maximize diversity.
Buyers of legal services want to hire diverse teams of lawyers. This means that more firms want to portray themselves as diverse and inclusive. So, it makes sense for the photo shoot to include your most visibly diverse group of attorneys.
Pro tip: In today’s business climate, a photo of three white men probably won’t make it onto the website—even if the shot is otherwise spectacular. So, don’t waste your time shooting it.
6. Don’t forget middle-aged women.
The demographic makeup of your firm will be reflected on a website unless you deliberately plan otherwise. For most firms, this means you’ll have lots of photos of older men and very few of middle-aged women, even though the latter are often the buyers of legal services.
7. Obscure the subject (partially).
Straight-on shots, where everybody is perfectly visible, can feel staged. One way to make a photo feel more “real” is to obscure the subject a bit. This approach can create a visually pleasing, dynamic look.
8. If you’ve got views, show them off.
Windows in the background are nearly always better than walls. So, if you’ve got an office with floor-to-ceiling windows and striking views, be sure to shoot your photos there.
9. Color is energy.
Encourage people to wear bold colors. In a sea of dark suits and white walls, a red dress or a yellow tie can bring life to a photo. However, you should discourage people from wearing busy patterns, as they seldom look good in photos.
10. Movement adds dimension.
Photos of people walking are often the most engaging shots. They communicate a kind of energy and dynamism that is difficult to capture when people are sitting. That said, shots of subjects in motion are often the most difficult to stage. Furthermore, not everybody likes to be photographed from head to toe.
11. Want something fresh? Try video.
If you’re looking to do something different, consider a “videographic”: a silent video that autoplays on page load. Videographics are a modern, dynamic alternative to still photographs.
Photo credits: Most of these photos resulted from a creative collaboration between Great Jakes and photographer Peter Olson.