I was invited to speak last night to a group of local businesses at Darlington Business Club, as part of a presentation on social media. I was following Claire Mitchell of 19Marketing, the group Chair, who spoke about social media, what it meant and how it could form part of each and every business marketing plan.

I was there to share some examples of why everybody should think carefully about the images they use… particularly as a “Profile Image”.

I didn’t need to say much just pull a few “horrors” from that well known professional networking link site… business owners and directors using party pictures holding large drinks complete with fruit and umbrellas… the works! Then there was the commercial director of a large insurance company using his hiking holiday picture… complete with shorts! The marketing and advertising executive pictured on holiday, slumped in an airport chair looking bored, bored, bored! ( I know that feeling! ). Perhaps the one Profile Image which brought the house down was the web development director pictured acting the monkey up a tree!

You only have to think of the number of images that hit you on a given day, and how efficient you are at making subconscious assessments based on image content and style to realise the full implications. We all do it everyday… so what does your image say about you?

Perhaps as photographers we could all blame the rise of the “IPhone-O-Matic mug shot machinebut really I think it comes down to the fact that often business people don’t realise the audiencesuch images will reach through any of the social media platforms.

Indeed I’ve heard from others that some companies are actually using employee I.D.badge photos as avatars for their Twitter folks, on Facebook pages or LinkedIn Profiles… Talk about being “penny-wise and pound-foolish!”

Having said that a quick trip to the local “omnipresent”supermarket is guaranteed to raise a smile… just look at the Customer Service Board with pictures of the Manager, Head of Vegetables, Baker etc… seriously they expect us to buy our food from them… yikes!

My part of the evening finished with an audience question on Copyright and Photography… foolish, foolish… I had to warn the audience that I had “form” on this subject and they’d best be prepared not to see family and friends for days… the last time I got into that subject myself and an interested group were the last one’s in the bar and I don’t think the glazed expressions were “liquid induced!” It was really interesting to see that the creatives in the room knew the score, but some of the other businesses represented didn’t realise what was right and wrong.

Anyway it was a great experience, many thanks to Claire for the invitation and just to “keep this photography” below are a few portraits created for my clients…