Phil and The Infinite Monkey Theorem
Perhaps you’ve heard a story about a couple who, on the recommendation of their cousin’s brother-in-law’s sister, decided to save a few bucks on wedding photography and instead of hiring a pro went with their friend’s brother’s nephew Phil, who by all accounts — and by all accounts, we mean “in his mother’s opinion” — is incredibly talented because basically he owns a camera that doesn’t also function as a phone. And he’d do the job for next to nothing because the experience would be invaluable for this aspiring photographer.
Phil is a textbook illustration of The Infinite Monkey Theorem, “a proposition that an unlimited number of monkeys, given typewriters and sufficient time, will eventually produce a particular text, such as Hamlet or even the complete works of Shakespeare.” Arm a bunch of folks with prosumer cameras in a society that demands Photos Or It Didn’t Happen and sooner or later Phil will capture a moment he feels compelled to post with #photography which then garners “Great pix!” comments from friends and strangers, confirming Mother’s contention that Phil is a HUGE TALENT, until his masterpiece cycles out of their Instagram feeds and is forgotten. But Phil’s ego has been stroked, and he now fancies himself a Photographer, offering his “services” for a very reasonable fee. And this is how he comes to shoot our couple’s wedding.
The story ends badly for our couple, though, as their wedding album is full of cellphone photos emailed by wedding guests and then printed at Walgreens because the photos Phil took before he got drunk and disappeared with the matron of honor were heinous. Out of focus. A lot of feet. Several selfies. Party pix of MILFs posing and pouting. Absolutely no moments, no properly-lit portraits, no detail shots of rings, cakes, bouquets … nothing but amateurish snapshots from a hobbyist with nothing to lose because Monday he’d be back to his real job at the auto-parts store.
At this point, you may be wondering what the heck this has to do with marketing. Well, the moral of this story is: “You Get What You Pay For.” Photography falls into the “Things You Don’t Skimp On” category when developing a marketing campaign. Marketing pros should know this; often, though, they have to convince clients that there are times to cut corners and then there are times to suck it up and consider that paying for expertise is simply the smart move to make.
Just as a couple would want to entrust recording their special day with a reputable wedding photographer, a business should consider commercial photography an integral aspect of their marketing campaign. Professional photography ensures the best representation of a product or service in telling a brand story, not only in print advertising – obviously – but also in increasingly-influential world of social media.
In the digital realm, content is king and people are consuming it at exponential rates. Think about the number of status updates, blog posts, videos, photos and articles we are exposed to in just a day and it’s clear that very deliberate content curation is key in a digital marketing strategy. What, exactly, is content? It is, quite simply, words, photos and videos — three ways in which a brand can be cast in its best light by controlling the message on the front end. Commercial photography showcases a business or product in a way no stock image or cellphone snapshot can. And because photographs online or in print advertising will often be a prospective customer’s first impression, it is imperative they are provided with the best possible representation of the people and products involved.
Hiring a commercial photographer ensures demonstrated skills and technical proficiency; professionalism regarding budgets, deadlines, project scope, etc.; and consistency in telling a brand story. There are times when snapshots are appropriate, but marketing pros who understand the value of quality photography should do their level best never to allow a client to undermine their business with sub-par snaps from photomonkeys when image, reputation and livelihood are on the line.