Where Atomic and Photography Meet

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With a clearly-defined brand and visual style, Atomic needed a cohesive photography style—one that expressed our lively, welcoming, authentic culture.

Photography Speaks

Photography is flourishing like never before, due to the increase of mobile devices equipped with a cameras, vibrant screens, and fast internet. Corporations are starting to value quality imagery to help build and reinforce their brand and sell more widgets.

I believe this is because photographs are a great way to convey a lot of information very quickly, and users in today’s world are trying to do just that. Photos can set a tone and convey a message a lot faster than a couple paragraphs of copy.

Atomic is no different: we want to tell our story and share our work in a language that is digestible to the user. So here is a little insight into how I think about the intersection of photography and software development at Atomic.

Photography as Transparency

We strive to create excellent photography because we want to accurately convey our culture and how we work. For me, this weighs heavily on one of our core values, Acting Transparently. By documenting and sharing an accurate account of Atomic, we hope to gain better clients, attract better talent, and work on increasingly challenging and fun projects.

Potential hires should be able to get a solid understanding of what it’s like to work at Atomic—who we are, where and how we work—from our website. On our site, candidates can see us working on real projects and do a gut check to see if they will work well in this type of environment. It should help them to self-filter, and thereby reduce the amount of time we spend on hiring and help us focus on building great products.

New clients should also be able to get a good feeling of what it’s like to work with Atomic. Selecting a development partner is a very important decision—the success of a product relies heavily on the quality of the client/consultant relationship–so we want to give them an accurate account of Atomic. When we give the client an accurate view of what it’s like to work with us, we can start the relationship off on a better foot.

We feel strongly that Atomic is a great firm and an excellent software partner. We leverage photography as just one way to communicate that message, convey the Atomic culture, and start a conversation.

Finding our Photography Style

So how did we go about documenting life at Atomic?

Stock images don’t work.

Gone are the day where stock images are okay on a first-class website. Users can smell stock images from a mile away, and they’ll start to question your credibility. If you are investing in quality content on your site, why spend the time creating great words but not powerful images that draw the reader in?

Bring your own style.

Hiring a professional corporate photographer might not be the best option either. No one want to see a CEO or your executive board posing in front of the same background as your elementary head shots. Instead, ask around if any of your employees take photographs, or hunt around for an up-and-coming local photographer with a documentary shooting style that can capture your true culture.

Collaborate—you don’t have to go alone.

Our team took a group approach with the imagery for the site. We discussed everything from how the images will be displayed on the site to the type of camera and lenses we were shooting with and ultimately lead to defining our style.

Define a style.

By having a consistent shooting style, we hope that with enough exposure to our content, you will one day look at an image and say, “That’s an Atomic image.”

Our chosen look includes shooting with a full-frame camera (like the Canon 6D) with fast lenses at an open aperture. We also look for bright natural light, and to finish it off, we defined a post-processing workflow to correct images and apply lighting filters to create that “look” we are going for.

Use storyboards to plan.

We prepared for shooting video by creating storyboards. This proved extremely helpful. Take the time to plan out the shots you need. Sketch the scene on notecards, and then you can order them into a rough story.

This process saved lots of time by being prepared “on the set.” We only planned out a few key photographs, but the process works just the same for photographs too.

Clean up working spaces.

If you work in an office where you are actually getting work done or creating something, your workspace is bound to get little messy. Before shooting, spend some time to make sure the surrounding area is clean.

Shoot from the hip. Be ready.

We relied heavily on a documentary approach to creating images. Capturing people engaged during their actual work instead of trying to force a moment seems to give the images authenticity.

Now that we have shed some light on how we look at and approach photography at Atomic, please take a moment and share tips that have helped your brand succeed through the use of photography.


This is the last post in a series about how we created our new site.