You’ve heard the saying “an image tells a thousand words” right? What this means when it comes to your business is that images are the most important item in your story, brochure, website, and any marketing material you produce because in an instant an image can tell a whole story and create a particular feeling. In that instant, your potential client makes a decision as to whether or not they like you. That then flows onto their decision to purchase off you or not.
Having professional images can make or break a marketing campaign but not everyone has the budget for hiring a professional photographer, especially when just starting out so here are some tips to help you to hopefully get some great images and get you started on your own.
Remove the distractions from the background
We see this in both videos and photographs where the person is so focused on the product they are photographing they don’t see the mess behind the product. The kids toys, the piles of messy newspapers or if its outside, the chooks, tractors or even literally the rubbish bins. Remove anything that is going to distract from the item you are photographing. Check the background before you take the shot because afterward it’s a lot harder (and more expensive) to have someone remove items that really shouldn’t have been there in the first place from that hero image you want as your header for your website.
Location, Location, Location
If you are photographing physical products then a roll of white paper clipped up to a clothes horse can do wonders. It creates a nice sweeping background without any creases which is perfect. If you cant get paper then as a last resort, a white sheet but paper is best.
If you have larger products then take them somewhere like a grassy lawn or sandy beach or a car park if that’s all you have available. What we are looking for is a plain background that doesn’t distract from the item you are photographing. Having a product on a white background also means you can use it anywhere on your website and can easily have the background cut out (there’s software that does this for you) if you want to put it on a different coloured background too.
Time of day
If you are shooting outside it’s best to photograph during what some professional photographers call the “golden hour” which is the first hour of light in the morning and the last hour of light in the afternoon. Taking your photos at this time will produce a pleasing soft light in comparison to the harsh light during the day. Plus it will minimise the dark shadows, instead creating long soft shadows that tend to accentuate the product rather than distract from its natural shape.
Change your point of view
Rather than just standing directly in front of your subject and taking your photos from there, move around a little. Grab a ladder and climb up a few steps and shoot from that angle or lay down on the ground and shoot upwards. This will create a completely different viewpoint and add an element of professionalism to your shots.
Get close and personal
One of the tricks that professional photographers do is to take photographs up close. This gives a creative edge to any product and makes it more interesting for the viewer. Another little trick is to tilt the camera to give a different angle. You can also set your camera at close up or macro (has a symbol of a flower-tulip usually) and this creates a focus on the item you are photographing directly in front of you and the rest (background) will appear out of focus – great for small products especially.
I always recommend using a tripod. There have been many times when, to the naked eye, the photo looked fantastic but when I put it on the computer screen ready to use, it was out of focus and this is usually because as the photographer pressed the button on the camera, it created a slight shake. Using a tripod or setting the camera on something stable will minimise camera shake and out of focus photos. Even better, set the camera up on a tripod and put the timer on. You can get tripods reasonably inexpensively these days and it will be worth the investment.
As mentioned above, until you see the image enlarged on a screen you wont really know how it turned out. So, wait until then before deleting any photos because you may lose what could have been the winning shot. Also, some photographs can be cropped in and this makes them go from ok to wow in an instant.
Save the originals
Always save the original large format images because these will be the ones that your designer will want. They should be at least 1 MB and this often can cause your computer to slow down if you have too many so we recommend storing them in the cloud with a product called Dropbox which allows you to have them available whenever you need them but without clogging up your computer hard drives.
We always recommend leaving the editing to the professionals. So if you are taking photos for a magazine or a website or to send to your graphic designer for a product brochure then send them raw (as is) and let them make the creative editing changes to them. But if you want to have a play around with editing your photos to put up on Facebook or send to family and friends then there are some really great editing tools available for you such as www.picmonkey.com or www.ipiccy.com or even www.pixlr.com.
Well, I hope this has been helpful and we look forward to seeing all your great photos on your website and social media feeds.