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  • Writer's pictureHavelock Staff

Brand values in commercial photography

Updated: May 20, 2019

Here at Havelock we take great pride in being a specific type of company, run by people who want to enjoy their jobs and feel good about themselves and what they are doing on a daily basis.

Three shot silhouette by Havelock - commercial photographers in Bristol
Our brand values are everything to us - a code by which we operate every day

So, we have a set of brand values here at Havelock which we adhere to very closely.

Our brand values are centred around a desire to sleep soundly at night, knowing that we've done a hard day’s work and done our best for our clients and, wherever possible, leave everybody with a positive memory of the experience.

This may sound a bit touchy-feely in the modern business world, but these are things that are important to us. We're fairly certain that you'll find our prices are not the cheapest, and we make no excuses for that. We set our rates honestly in accordance with the adjudged quality of our work. 

But within those guide prices we hope that you'll find that, in fact, the value you receive for that price makes it worth every penny.

We must be doing something right too, otherwise people wouldn't keep coming back!

So what are these so-called Havelock photography brand values?

1. Honesty

This is top of our list and has been since day one. The modern world is crawling with people trying to fleece you, trying to make a quick buck, happy to profit from misunderstandings. In our throwaway society so many businesses and individuals create business models based on a single sale. This means there is no incentive to provide a good service, make quality products or do anything to encourage a customer to come back a second time to purchase again.

Here at Havelock photography we’re all about customer experience and for us that means honesty and openness. We believe that if we’re upfront with you, if we make clear our intentions and what you can expect from not just the whole process but from the day-to-day communication and running of your project and shoot, that there should never be a moment where something unexpected happens or you feel like the wool is being pulled over your eyes.

If you book us for a job then you are, in effect, commissioning us to carry out work. That work is your work, so we believe you should feel consulted and in control at all times. We work together, in collaboration, to utilise our knowledge and expertise to make your vision a reality. As such, we want all cards on the table at all times. 

For us, the pride we take in our work is not necessarily creating images which we think are perfect, but in creating images which you think are perfect. And the only route to this outcome, is openness and honesty from day one.

Paramedic standing next to rapid response car - editorial photography by Havelock.
We work with clients from a huge range of backgrounds - some multi-billion dollar international clients, sure, but also charities, local SMEs and startups, and individuals. It's not the money which gets us up in the morning, it's our own personal drive and ambitions, and they go way beyond making a quick buck...

2. Value

Value doesn't mean cheap. What value means, to us the least, is that you can set your prices high, but the client must understand what they get for that money. Our goal is for your experience with us to result in a feeling of understanding at why we set our prices how we set them. 

There have been a couple of occasions when a returning client has come back for another job and we've been unable to do it because of our schedule. The client has then gone to a different photographer to complete that work. On the two occasions when this has happened the client has returned to us for the following job and told us how they had found somebody cheaper but that the experience, having worked with us, turned out to be quite unpleasant.

That is not to say all other commercial photography companies are bad to deal with! Far from it. 

Having been in the industry for nearly 10 years now we know many people who are doing the same job and we consider them friends and respected co-workers. What it does mean is that here at Havelock Photography we pride ourselves on the customer experience. 

We hope that the quality of our photography speaks for itself - it is all over our website and is the first thing you see when you come here.

So the next step then is understanding your needs and doing whatever we can to overdeliver on your requirements.

By doing this, we hope that after you've had your photo shoot after we've completed your job of through delivered your final images, and after you paid your invoice you walk away feeling like you've just got a great deal, and so do we. That is the aim.

The owners of New Bristol Brewery - Bristol's leading small brewery - brand identity photography by Havelock.
Creating striking photographs and breathtaking videos is what makes us happy. We don't care if you are Microsoft or a micro brewery, we take the same pride in making sure that your photography fills your with pride and gets your heart racing at the potential.

3. Quality

It would be nice to think that, within the business photography world, quality should would always be guaranteed, but alas it’s not always the case. Some other commercial photography companies openly offer guarantees on their work, some not so openly. We haven't researched exactly how many of our competitors do offer a guarantee on their work, but we know that it's something we like to do.

We offer a quality guarantee on every image, although no one has ever called us on this! And this is probably because our internal quality control tends to be much more strict and ruthless than anyone else’s! 

The criteria we set for what constitutes a photograph worthy of the Havelock Photography name is extremely high. There have, on a handful of occasions, been times when we have sent rough drafts of images to clients with the caveat that the content of the photograph is extremely good and therefore we are sending it to them to see what they think of it… but ordinarily we wouldn't have let them see it due to technical imperfections.

However, we do realise of course that the finer points and intricacies of technical photography are not of great interest to many!

This is a lesson that my mum taught me once. Many years ago I was taking photos of a family gathering I sat down a few days later to show my mum what we've taken and she asked me to stop on a photograph that I was attempting to skim past. 

She loved it. She thought it was the best photo of the bunch. I looked at her in disbelief I couldn't work out what it was she saw in that photograph. She explained it was a lovely one of her and a lovely one at that. I argued that it was slightly out of focus, the depth of field was shorter than I would choose, the composition did nothing for me, and technically it was a fairly poor photograph. I also explained that she is lucky I hadn't already binned it. 

But there was a lesson to be learned there, which is that photography is something to be looked at and digested by the end user and the wants and needs of the end user are not always the same as mine.

That said, we still believe it is extremely important to uphold excellent technical practices within photography. Our aim with your photographs is for them to deliver an experience to your customers, but also to give your website/marketing material/advertising an air of quality which can be appreciated by people from all walks of life, from someone who has absolutely no interest in photography all the way through to people like David Bailey or Annie Leibovitz. 

There is also a good reason behind this - in the same way that a plumber who takes great pride in the details of his work will actually create plumbing that weathers well, so technically proficient photography should, in theory, stand the test of time a little more than technically weak photography. 

An example of this is a photograph which is fractionally out of focus, or perhaps a little grainy due to low light, which might be accepted and enjoyed today because, even with broadband and fibre-optic Internet, websites only allow a certain resolution of photographs to be displayed. 

The resolution at which you see a photograph on a website is restricted by the bandwidth of the website, the speed of your Internet connection and the resolution of your screen. As all of these things increase and improve, so the resolution at which we view photographs will get better, and therefore an image which you can just about get away with now, because people will be viewing it on a smaller screen, will become painfully substandard in 20 years when technology has advanced and suddenly you will find your flaws exposed.

We've got distracted… Sorry! This is about a quality guarantee, and Havelock offer a 100%, no argument guarantee on every image. Please take a look at our other blog post here to understand how this guarantee works.

Brand portrait of Two Chaps, YouTubers - by Havelock, Bristol's leading commercial photographers
These guys run a small YouTube channel doing reviews of affordable second hand cars... same approach from us, same service, same warm glow of pride when they tell us that their photographs have completely changed their online profile. That's what gets us out of bed in the morning.

4. Modernity

By modernity we don't mean that we create crazy, out-there, avant-garde photography. We can... and we quite enjoy it! But what we are talking about with modernity is about having in mind the end use of every image right from the outset.

A good example of this is, of course, our social media photography packages. The photographs which you receive as part of the social media package are designed from the outset to be optimised for impact on social media. 

As we all know it is essential to have a presence on social media in the modern business world, but the photography which one might take to display on social media is slightly different to the photography one might display on a poster or a book cover. It’s different from the traditional photography which we were doing 10 years ago. 

There are emphases on visibility on a small screen, ability to draw attention in a short space of time and shareability. The world of tomorrow is inhabited by people whose attention is the most valuable and hardest-fought-over commodity. It's what everyone in the marketplace is clamouring to get more of, and it's what they have in short supply. So for social media it is essential that the images you use on your social media channels are striking and stand out in the sea of other photographs.

This is what we mean when we say modernity. We spend a great deal of time not only keeping up with the latest technology, but also the latest trends in image usage, what is working and what is not working on the various platforms that your images will inhabit.

This modernity extends throughout our business, in all genres of photography. When shooting covers, magazine adverts or press releases we now take into account the vast improvements that have come with modern printing in the last 15 years. Of course, it varies from publication to publication, but printing in general has become more advanced, photographic reproduction in print is now truer to the original than ever. 

This means that everything has to be more accurate, colours more faithful to the original, lighting more carefully considered. Perhaps 30 or 40 years ago photographs being reproduced in the Sunday supplements could afford to be stark, high contrast and bold.

These days modern printing is capable of faithfully reproducing a range of delicate tones within a photograph, and amongst the photography critics the utilisation of these tones is applauded. 

In essence we spend a lot of time every week, month, year keeping up-to-date with advances in all aspects areas that may be relevant to the reproduction and/or display of the photographs that we create for you.

5. Approachability

This is a bit like numbers one and two, but we feel it's important enough to have its own heading. Before Havelock Photography was created we had, ourselves, hired photographers when working in the marketing department of a multinational corporation.

The feeling of being belittled and humiliated because perhaps we didn't know how to ask for what we wanted, or didn’t understand all the technical jargon of photography, is one that is stuck with us ever since and has spurred us on to create an atmosphere at Havelock photography of warmth and accommodation to all of our clients needs, no matter how great or little their understanding of photography itself. 

Unfortunately this is a bit of a trait of photographers - they can be guilty of this quite often. It still happens to us now! 

We used a studio in the last 12 months where the owner of the studio openly laughed in my face when I explained my plans for a shoot, and what I was planning to do. 

He gave me a look he made no attempt to hide it, he openly told me that I didn't know what I was doing! Am I a better photographer than him, is he better than me? Who cares! I would much rather I get on with my stuff and he gets on with his. I wasn't looking for his advice on photography, I just wanted to use his studio. 

But the feeling that it creates is unpleasant in the extreme and we vowed never to let any of our clients, no matter how outlandish the conversation on the phone, feel like that.

This is most relevant in our early phone calls, when we are discussing exactly what it is that you're trying to achieve. There are always misunderstandings, there is always a dream that is bigger than the laws of physics can accommodate. But our view of this kind of situation, is that it is our job to translate your dreams into something that is possible. It is our job to interpret what you're telling us and talk you through how we can achieve the closest thing possible to your original vision.

We also have absolutely no issues with explaining our methods, techniques, and processes.

Again, this one is from experience. We've worked with photographers in the past who have been extremely cagey about their methods, believing that if they shared their methods with others that they risk losing business or arming competitors with secret tools that may put them out of business.

We have no such fears… and we accept that this may one day turn out to be a flaw! 

We have every confidence in the work that we create, and our own unique ability to create it.

Photography is very like painting or writing, in that two people given exactly the same brief, the same tools, the same setting, will turn out completely different end products every time.

A good example of this is the support we offer those starting out in photography. We happily offer advice and guidance to anyone trying to make it as a photographer. In our view the higher the general quality of photography that populates the online and print marketplace, the greater the need will be for professional photographers. 

In a world where low-quality photography is the norm, one only needs to achieve mediocrity to stand out from the crowd. What we offer – high end, high quality photography – becomes obsolete, overkill.

And there we have it, we’ll stop talking now! If you’ve read this far, then well done you, and thank you! Please leave a comment below, simply saying “we actually read your blog post”.

We’re not expecting any comments. But interestingly, this has been a valuable exercise in cementing the values of Havelock Photography, and the reasons behind those values. It’s almost immaterial whether anyone reads it or not!

If you like what you’ve read, and have a requirement for photography, drop us a line, get in touch, start a conversation. We’d love to hear from you.

All the best,

The Havelock Photography team.

If you would like a free, no obligation quote for commercial photography, get in touch via our contact page here.

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