We use the terms ‘hero’ photos and ‘b-roll’ photos frequently when talking about our commercial photo shoots.
Our big brand clients who are used to working with commercial photographers understand what the term means, but if you are working for a small business, start-up business or even a mid-sized business that’s used to licensing stock, you may not be familiar with these terms.
In this post I’ll explain what ‘hero’ and ‘b-roll’ photos are, and show you five examples of both.
A ‘hero’ photo is a premium, cream-of-the-crop photo. A five star shot. A photo that will be used in a high-value advertising use or marketing use, including but not limited to:
- website homepage
- sponsored/paid social media posts
- paid digital ads
- paid print ads
- important sale emails
- trade show banners
A hero photo should always be used for any usage that needs to produce revenue results.
For this reason, hero photos should always be considered an investment, not a cost.
Below is an example of a hero photo we created during a high-production-value shoot for a well-established growing national brand. This is just one of many types of commercial animal photography session types we offer.
Both the little boy and cat talent were professional talent, and we had a full crew of 15-20 people on set at a professional location we sourced through a location scout. We used multiple lights, a set stylist, professional cat trainers and gave ourselves 2-3 hours to get this single shot that we storyboarded and planned weeks in advance.
More hero photos we created from the same shoot.
Below is a hero photo we created for a small startup pet product brand using regular dog owners and their pet dogs, at a local park, without any crew or lights, e.g. what we call a ‘run & gun’ shoot. Their wardrobe consisted of what they wore to the shoot, they did their own hair and makeup, and the dogs arrived as-is.
The dog owners did all the wrangling and played the roles of ‘dog trainer’.
You’ll see the quality of the hero photo is based on the quality of the production.
The higher the production value (the more production-related expenses we include) and the higher the client’s budget, the higher the quality of the results.
For our really big shoots, we have an entire crew of people and team from the agency and client side attending the shoot. We need all of this in order to create the cream-of-the-crop photos you see earlier in this article.
B-roll photos are filler photos that are used for low and lower-value use, including but not limited to:
- (non-paid) organic social media use
- interior (not homepage) web pages
- weekly emails
- small interior printed brochure photos
- other small/low-value print collateral
A b-roll photo can be considered for any usage that isn’t expected to directly produce revenue results.
Below is an example of a b-roll photo from the first shoot above. Cute, but not 5-star cute.
And here is an example of a b-roll photo from the second shoot above. Nice, but not ‘cream-of-the-crop’ nice.
When do we need to create hero vs b-roll photos in a shoot?
We capture both in every photo shoot we do for clients, always aiming to create a really good variety of content. If we are there, we may as well!
Hopefully this helps clear up what we mean by ‘hero’ and ‘b-roll’ photos and you’ll know how best to approach your next photo shoot with a professional commercial photographer.
Do you need custom or stock pet photos for your own pet brand? Give us a shout!