How To Take Attorney Photos For Your Website That Resonate With Potential Clients

by | Mar 14, 2018 | Marketing

Attorneys have to wrestle with conflicting motivations when looking to attract new clients to their law firms. Not only must they demonstrate competence, but attorneys should also convey that they are approachable and trustworthy to potential clients.

Many attorneys lean heavily on an image of strength and aggression in their attorney photos, opting to take the types of portraits that have become so commonplace in legal marketing—arms crossed, expression stern, head turned to glare at the camera.

The intended meaning is clear—”we’re professional, we work hard, and we’re here to fight for you.” But such an image may not do enough on its own to convince a potential client to reach out to an attorney to discuss their case.

LawLytics’ Creative Director Sophia Oliboni has a Master’s Degree in Web Design & Technology from the Digital Media Arts College, as well as more than a decade of experience as a designer. She says that, in her experience, many attorneys are at a loss when it comes to taking photos for their law firm website.

Sophia Oliboni LawLytics

“A lot of attorneys feel that there’s a marketing trick to how their photos should look, and the only examples they have to go on are other attorney websites.” –Sophia Oliboni, Creative Director of LawLytics

“A lot of attorneys feel that there’s a marketing trick to how their photos should look,” she says. “And the only examples they have to go on are other attorney websites.”

Oliboni notes that, by trying to reproduce a classic attorney portrait for their own images, lawyers are missing out on the opportunity to convey their own personalities to clients and potential clients.

Further, by trying to portray an image of something that is not the “personality” of the attorney or law firm, the firm may inadvertently miss potential clients that are well-suited for the firm, and attract clients that are not a good match, creating alignment and expectation management problems.

Attorney Photos That Resonate With Your Target Audience

When a person begins looking for an attorney it’s often because they’re facing some sort of legal obstacle. Whether they’ve been injured in an accident, arrested, are looking to draft a will or dozens of other common legal problems, hiring an attorney is often something that people do when they are feeling vulnerable. Attorney photos present an opportunity to address that vulnerability and show your potential clients that you are approachable.  

Oliboni points out that a person’s legal problems “may be something they’re embarrassed about, or are even trying to hide from people. But,” she explains, “a client has to be completely open with their attorney in order for that attorney to help them.”

It’s important to demonstrate to potential clients that they can trust you. But, Oliboni says, “if you look like you’re a mad dog, it’s not going to make me think that you’re any more competent than someone who looks like I can go to them and tell them my problems.”

There are lots of ways to take an attorney photo that will resonate with your audience. Here are several tips to help you create attorney photos that showcase your personality and engage the right potential clients for your firm.

Attorney Photo Tip #1: Look Active

When looking to take professional photos for their marketing collateral and websites, many attorneys see it fit to simply schedule time with a photographer to pose for portraits in a traditional photography studio. Oliboni, however, advises against that impulse.

The standard, single-color studio background is old hat, says Oliboni. And not only do those backgrounds lack the sort of dynamic elements that tend to draw people in to an image, “that dark gray background color will reflect onto your clothes, your hair, and your skin, so it will gray you out,” she says. “It mutes you.”

For this reason, Oliboni says it’s better to get outside and make use of rich, natural, morning lighting. “When you’re up and about, it shows that you are active; that you’re constantly doing something; you’re on the move and you’re working for the people.”

Tip: Consider using natural, outdoor lighting to your advantage.

Similarly, she says that standing in your photos is generally preferable to sitting. Unless you are “actively engaging with a client” in the photo, or otherwise look like you’re “knee deep in work,” Oliboni says that the message conveyed by a person in a sitting position is generally a passive one. The same can be said for looking away from the camera rather than engaging it (or another subject in the frame) directly.

Attorney Photo Tip #2: Use Colors and Settings That Reflect Your Practice Area

It’s possible to take photos inside your office that are appropriate for use on the web. But it is important to make sure that your office is suitably camera-ready and well-lit. If not, Oliboni says it’s best to consider renting a more photo-ready office space, or to go outdoors to settings that help communicate your marketing message more clearly.

Find landmarks or old buildings in your community, or make use of popular areas of your city’s downtown to draw a connection between your law firm and the community it serves. Get outside to a park or other natural area if you specialize in environmental law, get in front of big buildings with lots of glass if your practice is focused on business, or use a public library or courthouse as your backdrop, depending on the message you hope to convey.

Consider selecting backgrounds and clothing that compliment rather than compete with your hair color and skin tone. For example, try to avoid dark backgrounds if your skin tone and hair color are darker, and don’t pose in front of a white wall if your skin and hair are more fair.

You may want to avoid any kind of setting that denotes a holiday or hyper-specific seasonality (such as snow or summer beach scenes), as these can make your site seem outdated at all other times of the year. Such images can also make it look like an attorney is on vacation, or is otherwise partaking in leisure time activities. This may come across as frivolous to potential clients, who are looking to hire an attorney based on their professional competence and dedication to their practice.

In addition to complimenting the tones of your skin and hair, colors should also be used with intention. To convey strength and poise, employ bold “power colors,” such as a palette of red, black, and white. This might mean wearing a black suit, white shirt, and red tie in your portraits. You can further increase the efficacy of accent colors by connecting them to the action areas (such as hyperlinks and buttons) of your website.

For a more professional, corporate look, blues and grays can work to your advantage.

For a more professional, corporate look, Oliboni says that blues and grays will work to your advantage. For example, if you’re a business law attorney, consider a gray suit and light-to-medium blue tie for images intended for your website, and try to find a background that provides highlights and accents that will compliment your chosen color palette.

Each specific practice area can benefit from a carefully selected array of tones and colors. Practitioners of elder law—depending on if they are targeting their marketing efforts at the elderly directly, or the younger offspring of elder clients—can benefit from soft, pastel shades, or colors that evoke feelings of love or nostalgia (such as twilight tones of dark blues, pinks and purples), respectively.

Environmental lawyers may want to lean toward earth tones. Those operating a practice centered on family law may want to use soft, playful colors that engender feelings of maternal or paternal love, and/or offer a sense of security and comfort not present in palettes heavy on primary colors.

Attorney Photo Tip #3: Add a Personal Touch

While posing for portraits to use on your law firm’s website, you might think about asking your photographer to turn the camera toward some other points of interest, as well.

A picture of your hometown’s cityscape can connect your practice to where you live.

If you have unique signage attached to your building, operate in a part of town that is well known in your community, work in an iconic or otherwise interesting building, or know of a good place to take a captivating picture of your hometown’s cityscape, Oliboni suggests that all of these images can be used to connect your practice to where you live.

Doing so can strike a personal chord with other residents and potential clients. Such photographs will add character to your firm not present in stock images, which, Oliboni points out, are just as accessible to any of your competitors as they are to your law firm.

Candid shots of your team at work can serve a similar purpose, especially if they help to paint a more humanizing picture of your firm for potential clients.

Oliboni says that one of the more memorable law firm photographs she’s ever seen was of a firm’s partners performing community service in a local neighborhood.

“That drew a lot of attention,” she says, “more so than an image of everyone stacked next to each other.” She says the image helped draw a direct connection between that particular firm and community action, providing the personal quality needed to lead a handful of organizations to partner with the firm that might have otherwise passed them by.

The images on your law firm’s website can contribute to your potential clients’ first impression of you. With a little consideration and some help from a talented photographer, attorneys can ensure that the messages communicated by those photographs are in line with the impression they intend to make, and that those photographs are doing their part to bring potential clients through the front door.

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