Commercial Photography and Social Media: Where It Works, Where It Fails


It isn’t easy to imagine what the world felt like without social media. In 2020, social media has become a significant part of peoples’ lives and an indispensable part of every brand’s development. Expectations of photography and video are changing rapidly on Instagram, Facebook, and other platforms. And we know it’s not easy to juggle while managing a marketing plan.

So today, OMS is wading into this phenomenon by sharing our perspective as photography and video professionals at the receiving end of our client’s changing demands.

This article will discuss the multi-part balancing act of social media visual production, including:

  • Authenticity vs. Perfected Productions
  • Using Up Budgets for Short Term Use
  • DIY vs. Hiring a Professional

We hope this will be helpful as you plan your brand’s next visual marketing strategy. And of course, please contact us anytime with questions or ideas.

Weighing Authentic Photos Against Perfected Productions

As professional photographers and videographers, we can produce visuals that are ready for billboards, packaging, and broadcast. However, when that high-end work is posted to social media, there’s a chance of getting fewer likes and shares than your latest re-post.

What happens here is a lack of authenticity and entertainment.

To designers and creatives, the high-end work might appear irresistible. But to the average social media user, it might feel like you’re selling more than helping, and the opportunity for user engagement misses its mark.

What should you do?

We recommend that you prioritize beautiful, authentic visuals for your brand with the simple goal of making someone smile. Here’s how to start:

  1. Reconcile with the fact that social media posts only last so long.
  2. Don’t try to go for high-end precision when it comes to social media. 
  3. Hire photographers with your intended use in mind.
  4. Come to shoots with a loose set of ideas, play around, and be open to an evolving concept. 

Of course, at the end of the day, you have to use the assets you have. So if you do end up posting something intended for traditional advertising on social media, brace for a mediocre response. This brings us to our next topic:

Budgets and Reality

It is a harsh reality. Social posts rarely are used more than once. So spending a large portion of a budget on professional photography or video work can be difficult to swing.

It all comes down to using your budget wisely.

Here are our best tips:

  1. Hire a pro for approximately 1/3 of your posts. This balance can work well as you build your brand. Sprinkling in polished photos will help you stay under budget, while maintaining the professionalism that every brand needs and honoring the demand for authenticity.
  2. Hire a pro for any visuals intended for ads. High-end photos are great for conversion-focused ads, where the next steps are clear and direct. This works because ads are not for building followers; they are for converting followers into customers.
  3. Hire a pro to create one video and then have them cut it up. We recommend creating videos that are around a minute long while still covering most of what you want in your ad campaign. Then cut it up into ~5 second moments, and get 4-5 extra social posts out of the work.
  4. Hire a pro when you need something animated. Animating gifs take some skill and planning. It’s worth your time and money to have it done by an expert.

Wondering when we’ll say you don’t need to hire a pro? Read on:

DIY Video and Photo Capabilities vs. A Studio’s Capabilities

Chances are you have a pretty good camera in your pocket these days, so it’s hard to resist doing it yourself. There are numerous classes online that can help get your mind around what makes or breaks a good photo.

And our opinion is: go for it!

Or find yourself a few of those fancy influencers.

As professionals, we want you to succeed more than we want to shoot every single photo you might ever need. So give DIY a try!

You’ll know it’s time to get in the studio when you need something unique, well propped, and well lit, which will most likely be outside of your capabilities. For example, you might have a phone, but you don’t have lights, backdrops, prop rooms, studio space, and experience. It’s truly amazing when you work with a studio that has all the right ingredients. The possibilities are limitless and we’re here for you when you need us.

Summing Up Our Recommendations

Here are the key takeaways from this article:

  • Try to favor the authentic, but use professional photos to tell your brand’s mission precisely the way you want.
  • Don’t blow your budget on professional photos. Use professional images about 1/3 of the time.
    • Save the professional photos for your ads and conversion-focused campaigns.
    • Stretch your videos further by cutting multiple clips from them.
  • Learn how to create visual content for your company, or at least cultivate an influencer who can. 
    • Hire pros when it’s above your head, or for those big ideas and visions that only a studio can bring to reality.

Let us know if you have any questions for us!

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