Former professional photographer Terry Dinning visually documents every project for Dinning Builders, East Lansing, Mich. He describes his camera, a Kodak DX 6440 digital, as “a fantastic tool” for many purposes, such as creating estimates, tracking progress, and troubleshooting problems that arise later.

Dinning takes his own marketing photos as well, including those on the cover of his brochure, shown here. “I don't see the need to pay for a professional photographer,” he says.

He should reconsider, according to Ruth Lozner, an associate professor of design and marketing at the University of Maryland. “It takes a split second for a photograph to convey an impression to the reader,” she says, “and it's imperative that the impression be a positive one. A professional photographer will properly light, compose, and focus on the subject and show your work to its best advantage.”