Monthly Archives: December 2015


What are the benefits of using Clip Art, Illustrations or Photographs in business?

clip art, illustrations or photographsI listened to an interesting discussion about using Clip Art, Illustrations or Photographs in business the other day.  It was interesting to hear the very strong views being voiced.  Interestingly the main protagonists were a graphic designer and a photographer.  They both fell into the trap of “fighting their own corner” without any thought of the “customer perspective” or a having a balanced view.  Naturally the photographer really pitched in hard that photographs trumped clip art or illustrations very time because of the reality they portrayed.  She also said that “people doodling with crayons tended to make things look Mickey Mouse-like”.  She felt that many people saw illustrations as “clip art trash” or “cartoons” with no style.  The graphic designer countered that a photograph often lacked character and it was easy to “point and click” and get a static image that did not get the full message across.

This got me to thinking about the subject a bit more rationally. I did a bit of research and it became apparent that there is not a lot of research on this type of subject – just loads of self-opinionated logic that just seemed to justify the writer’s standpoint.  The more I thought about the subject, the more I realised that there is a balanced point of view.  The answer lies somewhere in the middle of the extreme views – I guess just like a lot of things in life. So here are my thoughts on this subject.

Factors that may affect your choice

It seems to me that there are a few issues to think about when making a choice between using clip art, illustrations or photographs:

  • Purpose of the image.  If an image is required to show mood, precise details of a product or fine detail, then it may be that a photograph may be a better solution. If you are aiming to show a process or get an idea across, then clip art or an illustration may be more appropriate. In both cases it can be difficult to find the right illustration or photograph to suit your exact purpose. It may be that you need a combination of an illustration, clip art and a photograph to get exactly the concept or message you are trying to get across.
  • Creativity and Adaptability.  If you are trying to use existing imagery, it can often be easier to modify an illustration than recompose a photograph. If you are going to have to produce a series of images that show progression, then an illustration may be easier because you can use a consistent look or theme. This can be more difficult to do with photographs unless you are using a professional photographer.
  • Look and Feel. Many people in business feel that photographs can offer a more polished or professional image. Many argued that people wanted either to see real people who worked for their company (real employees) not line drawings or cartoon characters.  Well produced illustrations can often be more effective than photographs because they are very focussed on the message you need to convey. I have to say much of the clip art I have seen is very much comic book like and poor quality.  Indeed, much of the free clip art fits into that bracket.  Clip art can often look “cheesy”, but then so can some photographs.
  • SafeLiftImpact Required.  Different types of imagery provide different levels of impact. Sometimes the use of illustrated characters can get a message across better if you want the message to be key rather than the impression of the photograph.  It can be easy to get distracted by a photograph that you make value judgements about if the message is more important.  Counter to that a good photograph is more likely to portray a feeling more effectively.

And the winner is…

The more I have looked into this, the more I realised there is no winner or loser.  What was more important was to make sure you understand the function of imagery and to consider whether a photograph or illustration.  We have all become used to emoticons, but they are often poorly used in business communication and look really out of place.  So I feel that there are situations where photographs have more impact while at other times a graphic is better.

lifting-box-heavy-fragile-delivery-business-cartoon_MyFeUk_uI feel that if I see a photograph of a car, then people are more likely to relate to it more than they would do to a drawing of a car. It feels more real to the viewer because it allows me to relate new information to the existing knowledge that they have about cars.  Again, if I am trying to get some ideas across about using a car, then a diagram may be better – so in the Highway Code there are more drawings because it is the concept that is more important.

It may also be that the use of illustration versus photography may depend upon the culture of the target audience you are trying to communicate with.  Interestingly quite a few British people view some photography and images found on Stock Image websites as being “too American looking”.  In some cultures this might even be seen as offensive.

As I previously stated, many corporate clients seem to prefer photographs but it should be remembered that they can become dated more quickly than an illustration. Illustrations or simple drawings contain less specific characteristics and can be easier to communicate better across different geographical regions.

So the conclusion is to use “horses for courses”.  If you decide that photographs are going to be the best way of communicating your message with a professional photographer then contact Martin Neeves on 01455 271849 or on 07973 638591 or use my contact form to get in touch now for stunning photographs to complement your marketing words.


Published Date: 22nd December 2015
Category: General



What to wear for business portrait photos

Written by Martin Neeves – Commercial Portrait Photographer Leicester

business portrait photos-of-leicester-lawyer-glynis-wright1A good business portrait is part of your company’s branding.  It can communicate with a potential customer very quickly.  Being too casual might make a consultant look a bit light weight.  Whereas in some industries being too formal will be at turn off.  The way you dress, and therefore photograph, is an important part of your communication of your business values and brand.

All sorts of factors are important when choosing what to wear for a business portrait.  The Managing Director of a Stock Broking company is going to have more gravitas if they wear a 3 piece suit, because that is almost what customers expect.  Your image may need to project an air of formality, knowledge and trustworthiness. The Managing Director of a creative company may choose to dress a little more casually, if they are looking to portray a more edgy approach.  If you need to make your company look more approachable and friendly, then you may choose to dress a little more informally and “hip”.

This article seeks to give you some food for thought you to prepare for that important business portrait.

  1. Is the portrait going to be head and shoulders or full length?  If it is head and shoulders then the real focus is going to be the face.  This will tend to be more close-up so shaving, makeup and hair will be all the more important to get right. If it is a full length photograph then it is important to coordinate the whole dress package.
  2. Does it fit?  The first point is to wear something that is comfortable and fits well.  A gaping or bulging set of buttons on a shirt or blouse does not flatter.  A tight jacket looks like it was meant for someone else – did you borrow it?  Too tight a shirt collar will make any double chin, triple sized or worse. In addition, tight clothes can make you look stiff because you have to hold yourself rigidly.  Make sure the clothes are pressed and look new or nearly new.
  3. Does your company use a uniform?  If your company uses a fairly standard sweat shirt or polo shirt that carries the brand, then that will make a good impression of the style of the company.  This is often the case with service industries.  Think of the way Virgin uses its very consistent red uniform to make the brand instantly recognisable.
  4. Is the norm in your industry formal or casual?  A plumber in a lounge suit, carrying a plumber’s bag might look a little odd.  Similarly a management consultant in jeans and t-shirt may look hip, but they may not strike a credible pose, unless they are Richard Branson.
  5. D2227-38-natural-office-portrait-blaby-leicestershire1Ladies.  Think about choosing plain colours for business and use mid tone colours.  A very bright red can be overpowering, but a black can be a bit sombre.  Plain black and white can also play havoc with the camera exposure or contrasts with a backdrop.  If in doubt, ask what colour of background will be used.  For jewellery use the KISS principle – Keep It Simple Stupid.  Wear simple earrings and necklaces that keep the focus on the face.  Too much bling can cause havoc with studio lighting or flash reflecting back distracting light. Necklines should again be simple and unfussy. Again it should not distract the viewer from the face.
  6. Gents.  The standard business suit may be your first port of call, but even this need thinking through.  Darker suits tend to be more flattering and will give you more gravitas.  If you prefer to wear very light coloured suits, make sure that at least your shirt is darker than your skin tone when opting for a light suit.  If you do not then there may be an issue for the photographer trying to get a good contrast between your skin and the background.  Similarly to the ladies, a white dress short may not be a good idea if you are not wearing a jacket.  Again it comes down to playing havoc with camera exposure or backdrop contrast. If you wear a tie, it is always worth bringing few options.  Unless you have a natural beard, moustache or normally wear stubble then do not forget to shave.  Photoshop can remove a skin blemish from cutting yourself but not stubble (without the photographer spending a lot of time working on it, which will cost a lot of money).
  7. Photograph by martinneeves.comJewellery (for men and women).  Do not use flamboyant jewellery.  It will take the focus from your face and general image.   Keep it simple, small and not too flamboyant.  The photograph is to promote you and your face, not your jewellery.
  8. Pose.  The photographer will undoubtedly guide you, but do be aware that certain types of pose can be a little unflattering.  If you are not as svelte as you used to be, then a low angle shot can pronounce you double chin and other blemishes.  Whereas a side on shot with the shoulder turned to the camera and the face tilted very slightly forward can be more flattering.  Don’t put your head up unnaturally to stretch  your neck, otherwise the photographer will be looking up your nose, which even for the most attractive people, is not a good look!  I seem to spend my life telling people to bring their head down slightly during portrait sessions.  Don’t pout!  It looks ridiculous.  Enough said!  A good photographer should ask you to do a range of expressions (from smiling to serious) to find a look that suits you.
  9. Glasses.  These can be a touchy subject with some people.  If you wear reactive lenses then there may be issues with the type of lighting.  The photographer can manage this, but they need to know.  If you normally wear glasses then it is advised that some of your photographs are taken with them on, as that is how your colleagues and clients will recognise you.    You can always do some “glass free” photographs too, to give you a choice.

Contact Martin Neeves if you want to have some great, professional portrait photographs to promote you and your business more effectively.  Call Martin Neeves on 01455 271849 or on 07973 638591 or use my contact form to get in touch now.

Business Photos


Published Date: 18th December 2015
Category: General



The perfect family gift – a family portrait

Written by Martin Neeves – Portrait Photographer Leicestershire

family portraitAs Christmas comes we are all thinking of sending our gifts and Christmas cards. Sometimes it can be difficult to work out what to get everyone. Maybe you look at the commercially produced Christmas cards and think they are very much of a muchness. You’ve seen the politicians sending out family photograph Christmas Cards, some a bit “cheesy” and some quite tasteful. You think that would be nice but also are not sure if it is appropriate for “us”. Many will have noted the Kardashians various efforts at the portrait style of Christmas Cards. I previous years they have had people like top-photographer David LaChapelle do the job for an eye watering $250,000 – click to take a look at some of their efforts and see what you think.

Well let’s get it straight, the politicians and celebrities do it for publicity or brand awareness. They want to keep there persona in the mind of voters etc.

So why would a “normal family” want to do it?

  1. Well firstly, it solves the dilemma of being able to give your friends and family a unique Christmas card and deciding what to send people. You can stamp your own identity on Christmas and provide a very personal touch to Christmas.
  2. How often have you heard the cry “don’t they grow up quickly” or “gosh I had lost track of them”. Babies and children do grow so quickly. Well, this is a great way to keep relatives and friends updated on your family and make them feel that they are “in touch” with them.
  3. Sharing exciting or special times in your family’s life especially if the year has been notable in some way. Maybe one, some or all the family had a notable milestone or event. Possibly it has been a difficult year or you have come through a difficult period and you wanted to how that you had come through it successfully.

So what can you do about it?

  1. Do it yourself. There is the option of DIY using a “selfie” stick or your own camera. The downside of this is that it is not going to be posed, focused or lit correctly. The upside is that it is cheap, but will not give you the best image possible.
  2. Get a friend to do it. This is likely to be better as they can do a better job of framing, focussing and composing it more effectively.
  3. Use a professional photographer. They can produce a set of high quality shots that will be well-lit, focussed, composed and delivered at the optimum quality. I essence you get what you pay for. These are going to be highly professional photographs that will look great and not look like you are fobbing your friends and family off with a cheap, low quality solution.

What sort of photograph should it be?

It is best if the shot is relaxed and only semi-formal. If it looks too posed and stiff it may feel less fun. It needs to be something that makes a great keepsake that can be treasured as a lifelong memory. Sometimes people dress up in costumes, this can work but it can also look ridiculous if the costume is outrageous. It can also look very contrived and pretentious if not thought through correctly. If you are looking for a Christmas theme then the photographer may be able to help you portray that holiday feeling.

Many great family portraits are produced in casual (but not too casual) clothes that bring through the family’s personality. It may be that an opportunity occurs during a special event, maybe a birthday, a celebration or a trip out that allows a great photo opportunity.

If you are looking for a highly experienced portrait photographer who is going to capture your family portrait with great feeling and in a complementary manner, then why not call Martin Neeves on 07973 638591 or on 01455 271849 or CONTACT ME .

Why not take a look at my lifestyle portraits portfolio page, click here.



Published Date: 6th December 2015
Category: General