Really. Why Documentary Style Photography?
People and relationships are critical in business to business transactions, and so a strong B2B brand should communicate a sense of personal connection. It should speak to who the key players are and what it will be like to work with them. Great people photography facilitates this tremendously.
When a group of New York business litigators from Clifford Chance decided to split off to form their own boutique law firm, Chaffetz Lindsey LLP, they hired us to help them develop their brand. Chaffetz Lindsey offers individualized, personal attention from a select group of experienced partners. It needed to express a classic business to business brand that communicated that offering.
As a keynote expression of the brand, we started our work with the website. We knew it was going to feature photography of the founding partners, and we presented the initial executions with Dave Diesing’s photography that we had done for the New York Private Realty Group. It still looked good—a classic black-and-white studio treatment with a complicated posed grouping. It seemed an appropriate style to depict the tone and caliber of a high-end law firm.
The direction was approved, but the Chaffetz Lindsey founders wanted a less-staged feel, and for this, one of the partners recommended Joshua Zuckerman, whom he knew through his work as a wedding photographer. Within his work, we saw an uncanny ability to capture an unplanned moment with immediacy and feeling. Translating this into the context of a law firm with the players fully engaged in work was an intriguing idea, and we ran with it. This allowed us to create an in-the-mix immediacy in the photography that is very different from what you normally find in this context. The execution worked and has served the brand very well now for a year.
The documentary-style photography treatment that we used for Chaffetz Lindsey lends itself extremely well to the requirements of a business to business brand because it offers at least four advantages:
- 1. It is distinctive. The typical posed color photographic treatment is everywhere. So much so that it is rendered almost invisible or, at best, unmemorable.
- 2. If done well (with genuine feeling and believability, or in other words, with good photography and sensitive art direction), the fly-on-the-wall documentary style photography serves as a kind of preview of what it will be like to work with the key players. It’s almost a substitute for the first meeting, so that, after having seen this kind of photography, the prospect is more likely to have a sense that they already know the people they are going to be dealing with.
- 3. It conveys a sense of action and thus brings the brand to life, rather than delivering a static, less vibrant feel.
- 4. Finally, the realism of it communicates a kind of natural approachability that implies availability and accessibility, which are critical to a good B2B relationship.
The Chaffetz Lindsey brand is a true reflection of Chaffetz Lindsey’s service offering and has thus served its function well. The firm is thriving and is ahead of the founding partners’ original expectations for business growth. As the firm continues to grow, it will no doubt require brand adjustments and updates that reflect the firm’s development, but I do not expect they will dispense with the documentary style photography.