Get the Picture

 

Craig Farrell
Executive Director
West Bend Area Chamber of Commerce

 

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One of the challenges faced by many chambers of commerce is the lack of decent, high resolution photographs of their community. There are way too many pictures that are old and out of date, of poor quality, or used and reused to the point that they lose their marketing value.

When I joined the West Bend Area Chamber, we were preparing to produce our next community profile, but lacked the necessary photography to present our community in a favorable manner. The photos we had in our files represented businesses no longer in our area, folks in leisure suits, and third generation slides not fit for print production.

My first attempt at solving this problem was to contact photographers that were chamber members. Several were interested in taking on the project, but at a price that was way out of the chamber’s price range. In addition, we would only be able to use their shots one time and then would have to pay a fee if we wished to use them again. We needed a long term solution that would fit our budget.

During one of our board meetings, I asked the superintendent of our school district about the possibility of holding a photo contest with our high school. She replied that rather than a contest, why not create an ongoing community service project in partnership with the high school’s photography department. From that chance conversation we have created a photo library of over 5,000 pictures that we are able to use for all of our collateral material.

In addition to our photographic needs, pictures have been used by the City of West Bend and quite a few of our chamber members. For the last five years, AT&T has selected a photo each year for the cover of their Yellow Book which is distributed to 75,000 homes in our area.

The students have learned how to take pictures that are marketing-oriented and how to use photo release forms. Each year the director of the Museum of Wisconsin Art and I select the best 40 photos to display at the museum and a number of area businesses.

The only requirement for using our photography is to give credit to both the student photographer and the chamber. Thanks to this program a number of student photographers have been admitted to the college of their choice and the chamber has an ever increasing selection of photographs to meet our needs… and they are all free!