You have to mix it up.
Today, as a populace people are enthralled with all things visual. A picture is worth much more than a thousand words in today's market. Capturing someones attention means simply using a photograph or other visual aid that speaks to them. No matter what the subject. Once you get that attention, if your visual has staying power, then you can throw a brand around it and get a point or message to that viewer. A "brand" is really just that charisma surrounding your offering, whether personal or business. Sounds like advertising, eh? It is, its advertising or marketing in a basic form, I guess. Its always been like this, right? Photos showing products and families, garnering attention. Sort of, but today it is different. You could run an ad campaign in the past for a fairly long time. Get some mileage out of it. Today, if a target audience sees it more than a few times, they click right by it and ignore it. We live in instant updates now, near real time information feeds. Been there done that - yesterday! Never has branding content had to be managed so frequently. Even at a personal level photos are outdated quickly. Kids grow, they change, families spread out. Facebook's throwback days and memories posts are very popular and proof of trying to maintain that connection. At a recent studio promotional event, I had many discussions with folks, lamenting how they really don't have any current photos of their family. I hear business owners say they need to update their web page, get more current photos. Perhaps update their web presence.
It's more than being current though. The work has to have some impact, or its just not going to "grab" those that view it. The work is viewed by more souls now than ever too, so you have to cater to a larger demographic. I work hard to make sure the photos I create are capable of capturing someone's attention, often in disagreement with my client. I have to shoot for them sure, but I try and usually succeed, in getting a few of "my" shots in the mix and they always seem to use them. My shots are born from me knowing my subject, which is key. Still photography is yet a very viable medium. I use stills to bring attention to my website. Musicians, models, business persons, etc., all use them to bring attention to themselves or their businesses and work. A personal portrait should capture a persona, a projection of the person(s) and showcase it whether at a wedding, a prom, celebrating a milestone of life, or celebrating a lifestyle. Same for families, even pets, or basically anything in front of your camera. Photos are taken to capture attention. There is a message even if its merely one of a coming of age. Or trying to outdo the Joneses. So its very important to know what to shoot for, what the audience is, how the photos might be used, and maybe what the expectations are. Its not just pose and click. Even shooting a journalistic "step and repeat" function isn't "pose and click", there is a bit more that goes into it for it to be effective.
I was working with a former child model recently who is a very good, on the rise, musician now. We were talking about photography during our breaks and set up and I reminded her that we need to shoot for her brand, for what she is trying to convey whether these photos are going to be used for her next LP or gigging posters. I explained that most magazines now don't use super models for their covers. The new cover models are actors, actresses, and musicians that can attract everyday audiences. They use celebrities that people can identify with and that people want to emulate in some way. The new covers are the Carrie Underwoods, the Taylor Swifts, Maisie Williams, or Sophie Turners. Yes, some models transition and manage to stay "household" and global but not as many as years past. So really, success is going to be affected by what those you are looking to attract, see. Any visual aid needs to be able to make someone stop and notice. For the right reasons. People will also notice when a photo is blurred, incorrectly exposed or in general just not pleasing or mundane. On any social media platform, any photo is usually deemed good or great, but remember those are your friends commenting. They aren't usually buying. If they are, its in small numbers. The masses you want to attract don't know you and those folks are going to need something more than an iPhone photo. You also have to go beyond social media. In some cases, a bad photo can cause lasting harm from a business perspective. Food based businesses, travel businesses, real estate, in short, any business can benefit from well done visual aids, whether still photos, or video or website graphic design. If you run a travel service, only use photos that will make people want to book a trip based on what they see. If you have a bakery, use pictures that show how tasty your goods are. Show off that juicy hamburger, or steak. You want your picture to make a stomach growl. Ever see a picture in a menu and order that item because it looked awesome? Probably not too often because most of the photos are stock photos and people know that. Use photos in your menus that reflect what you serve. I can say the same for houses or commercial real estate or any business which relies on the visual to help their brand. Make sure your photos reflect what you want them to to. Don't settle for mundane. Go for attractive.
Nowhere is this more true than personal or consumer driven photography. Todays photos need to express much more than static mottled backgrounds. Make sure your photographer can use varied techniques and light to sculpt the photo of you. A professional photographer can use any lighting, any conditions, even rain (well maybe not a monsoon, although...), to their benefit. Talk to your photographer about your vision. Don't just go with tradition. Push it. An example is the standard corporate headshot. Why not show people something less stuffy? Why the same quarter turned look, mottled background, rim lit pose with the fake used car salesmen smile? Every face has character, every person has personality. Sometimes, its just using the right lighting to bring it out. Use that to show who you are and establish expectations. Even working models can get stuck in a rut when it comes to posing. Like one artist mentioned after seeing a few recent photos, "that head down, solemn, look is out man. ditto for the far off look." I still think the "far off look" works in the right circumstances but I tend to agree about the head down contemplative look. Its easy to get stuck in standard poses. You need to be constantly evolving which only happens when you work with your customer. Today, you need to be more than a photographer. You need to understand people and/or businesses and team up. Even a simple portrait session benefits from teamwork.
My point in all this is to use ANY visual aid to enhance your person or your business but make sure it embraces that subject. You might be a great chef, but a lousy judge of advertising. Seek help. Your friend might be a good web designer for technical firms but suck at putting together an artists online gallery or food based web site. Find someone else. Your portrait and/or website should be a bit provocative, with a bit of "flair". In all cases, find the right photographer, graphic designer, or cinematographer to work with. Collaborate. Invent. Get outside the box. Find you or your message. Live the success. And then repeat because you have to be as real-time as the information highway. We live in a great age, and we need to adapt to it, and evolve with it.