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Using photos in your business, whether it be social media marketing, blog posts, or even for your printed business materials greatly enhances your marketing efforts and can increase exposure for your business while giving your audience something pleasant to look at.

In our own attempts to use stock photos here at Femworking we realized a few things:

1) There are a LOT of sources of free photos out there,

2) There are legalities around using photos, especially for commercial use, and

3) which is what we’ll tackle today – is that it can be really overwhelming to keep track of and organize photos, especially as our digital space has increased.

Today we’re talking with Megan McCourt, Founder of Picture This Photo Solutions, where her mission is to help you “get your photos out of the closet, off the computer and back into your hands for enjoying now and as a legacy for future generations.”

Megan has been a Femworking member for a while, and I recently consulted with her regarding my personal family photos. I quickly realized that not only was Megan a wealth of knowledge, but that her practical tips would help me to save tons of time and get the most out of photos for my *business* as well.

Watch the interview to get her easy, actionable advice for using photos to tell your business’ story.

(Wanna read the transcript instead? Check it out, below)

Now that you know how to organize your pictures, head over to this post to get our list of the best sources for stock photos to create folders full of beautiful pictures for your business!

Not sure how to use stock photos? See this interview of Radiance Harris, founder of Radiance IP Law, to understand how to use stock photos legally and respect the original work.

Now, we wanna hear from you: What’s your favorite tip from this interview? What can you implement today? Let us know in the comments.

Got a tip of your own you want to share? Tweet it to us at @femworking and @picturethisps.

Video transcript:

“I’m Kelley Sanabria, founder and CEO of Femworking, and today we’re going to be talking about photo organization and how to use photos to tell you business’ story. We have Megan McCourt with us today, founder of Picture This Photo Solutions, where her mission is to help you get your photos out of the closet, off the computer and back into your hands for enjoying now and as a legacy for future generations. She’s been a Femworking member for a while now, but I recently consulted her about my personal photos, and when I did I quickly realized that a lot of the things she applies to personal family photos can be applied to businesses, and they make using your photos and telling your company’s story with photos a lot easier. I realized that she had a couple of practical tips that would save me a lot of time and money and would help me get the most out of using photos. She’s APO certified, which means that she’s certified by the Association of Personal Photo Organizers, so thanks for being here Megan!

Megan – Thanks for having me!

Kelley – Let’s get right into it. You have helped me to organize the thousands of personal digital photos that I have. Can you talk about how the brain works and is there a better way to organize photos than the typical way that we all do, which is by year/month/day?

Megan – Yes. A few problems come up with that typical way of sorting photos. One is that our memory works by events, not with that time stamp like digital photos. When I think about that Small Business Bootcamp I did with Femworking, I honestly have no idea what year or what month it was! I would think of it as “Small Business Bootcamp with Femworking”. So it’s helpful to built a structure with categories, versus just chronologically, because your mind will think about the “Event”, not the date. It’s then a much more efficient way to find your photos, rather than having to rack your brains and go back to the calendar to try to find the year and date. It also eliminates the mistakes digital cameras often do of putting the wrong date entirely. So that is two good reasons of sorting your photos by categories instead of dates.

Kelley – I love that tip, and that’s exactly what we did at Femworking. We no longer have any photos sorted by date, we broke it down into events. Events that we hosted, or that we’ve gone to, conference photos, member’s headshot, … Everything is organized according to how the brain maps things, so that the whole team can easily find and use the pictures. The other tip that you gave that really saved me some time and money is “naming”. You gave a whole new naming structure, and it took me a while to come around, but now I’ve started using it in both my business and personal photos and it’s been amazing. Can you talk about that tip and the logic behind it?

Megan – Many of us don’t bother to rename our photo files. We come back from a vacation or a business conference with 300 pictures, and they’re named IMG_6020, IMG_6021, … When you open your folder and see all those letters and numbers, you have no idea what your pictures are, so I always advise clients (business and personal) that you always need to have a step where you rename your photo files, so that you know what’s in there at a glance. I typically say that, first you want to capture the exact date in the the name of your photo file, so if later the time stamp gets messed up it won’t matter. So year/month/maybe day, and then add a little description. For example: “Kelley at Femworking conference”. This way, when you open your folder, you know at a glance that you only have to open a few files to find what you’re looking for. If you don’t rename them, you might have to go through all 300 picture of “Small Business Bootcamp”. So it’s huge step in making finding your photos much easier.

Kelley – I love it, and one of the way we implemented it is with our meetings pictures. We often take selfies with five, ten people, so I’ve trained our assistant to grab those pictures from facebook and rename them with year/month/day and then a string of names. So when we need a picture of somebody now, we just have to search for the name and the picture pops up. So the key is to make your photos easily searchable and to preserve the date as well! We’re also talking a lot about using stock photos on Femworking recently, so it also helped me a lot to save my favorite stock photos, like “girl sitting on a park bench” for example. So, yes, it’s a task and a time investment to rename all those pictures, but then you can truly use them. Otherwise, you have thousands of digital photos that are all there, but we don’t do anything with them.

Megan – Yes, and why have all these photos if we’re not going to do anything with them?

Kelley – Exactly! So we wanted to talk about using photos to represent your brand. What are your suggestions for entrepreneurs who want to use photos to represent their brands?

Megan – Photos are such an effective tool is used properly. If you look through your news feed on facebook, the things that pop out the most are photos. A lot of people are putting quotes with pretty pictures on the background, so they can be used effectively very well to market your brand. It’s the old phrase: “Pictures are worth a thousand words”. You can say with a picture what you might not be able to convey with a thousand word blog post. It just shows the power of photos. A lot of people also capture personal moments in their lives to share with their audience. It builds relationship and trust with your audience and they might connect with you in a way they wouldn’t have before. So that’s one good way to really engage with your audience, if you feel comfortable sharing those personal things. A lot of business are really successful in sharing “behind the scenes” pictures, so that’s a helpful marketing tool. Certain photos can also inspire your audience members, they can be a call to action. There’s so many things that photos can accomplish. You just have to make sure that you’re authentic to yourself and that the pictures you’re using are a good representation of the mission of your business.

Kelley – I love that you talk about being authentic to yourself, because I know that it’s really been a testing process for me. I love connecting with our Femworking audience and membership, and it has really been a trial and error process. Like, am I really comfortable sharing photos or videos of my children? How much of the behind the scene am I willing to share? But I love the concept of using photos to build a relationship with your audience and growing your brand through photos.

Megan – Yes, a huge piece of your marketing can be connected to photos!

Kelley – Absolutely. So, we get this question a lot: how do you keep track of photos that you’ve used in blog posts or in social media?

Megan – I would suggest for any entrepreneurs who have a lot of photos on their website, or obviously bloggers who might have 5 or 6 photos in one blog post, to create a folder called “Blog Post Photos” or “Website Photos”, and within that folder put your pictures with the date on which the post was published and the name of the post. This way you will always be able to find your pictures again quickly. You can also have other folders inside the main folder for your “About Page”, or product pictures, or individual blog posts, ect, to have a structure that makes even more sense.

Kelley – Again, it’s about matching it to the way our brain maps things. That’s just what we do at Femworking, we have really put that system in place and I love that everything is neat, clean and organized, and it saves time and money later. I know that sometimes entrepreneurs can get overwhelmed when it comes to using photos to tell their business’s story. There’s kind of two ways to go about that: there’s scheduling ad batching your content, and then there’s spontaneous content, and people love that stuff, that fun behind the scene! But scheduling posts also really takes the pressure off. So, is there anything else that you want to share?

Megan – Just one more quick thing about watermarking your images. It’s a good idea, even for small businesses, because anybody can steal any image that on the internet and do anything with it! So putting a watermark on your images is a good way to track that behavior. I usually do a pretty light and transparent mark, but sprawl it across the whole photo so that it’ll be really hard to crop out. Some people just put a little mark in the corner, put somebody could crop that out in a heartbeat. It’s just something to think about if you want to protect your images and you don’t want them to show up in an add in China for paper towels, which happened to one family. And also, one thing you can do to detract people from stealing your photos is to make a collage. Use an app, throw 3 or 4 pictures into a collage. It will be less attractive to someone trying to steal photos off the internet to put into stock photo sites and sell for profit. Sadly, anything that you put out into the internet is kind of free game, some people seem to think, so anything you can do to try to protect your images is a good idea.

Kelley – Thank you for sharing that. I don’t personally use watermarks, but it often comes up with our Femworking members. And I’m sure you know a lot of sources to do that quickly!

Megan – Absolutely. I use an app called Umark, but there’s plenty of other apps out there, just search for “watermarking tools”.

Kelley – Anything else you want to add?

Megan – I just want everybody to enjoy the photos that you’re taking. You’re taking them for a reason, there’s no point to dump them on a computer and never look at them again!

Kelley – Thank you so much Megan, where can we reach you?

Megan – On social media and at ”