I often work with my clients on the photos they use in their marketing – for their websites, social media, email marketing, and printed materials.
We tend to run into a specific group of challenges with their photos, including:
- Low resolution (which limits how the photos can be used in print materials)
- Cropped too close (no room for the designer to add text or use the image in wide and square formats)
- Too vertical (portrait)
It would be great if everyone could hire a professional photographer, but for many small businesses the cost (both the photographer fees and the project time resources) is just too high.
The good news is that most smart phones today have wonderful cameras and can take fabulous images.
To help my clients capture the photos they need for their marketing, I developed a quick set of tips. They follow this list to capture great photos with their smart phones.
I love this list because I know that the technical requirements involved with using a digital SLR camera are complex. I’ve had one of those little wonders since 2005 and I am STILL learning how to use it correctly.
Now you can use the list I share with my consulting clients!
If you’ve been having challenges capturing photos that you love then this list is for you. It will get you started taking better photos for your marketing efforts.
The trick is in learning how to frame your photo and being sure to shoot images in high resolution.
A quickword about authentic, real images:
Stock images may be perfect (in the technical sense) … but your own photos, while they may not be professionally shot, are far more authentic! Authenticity sells. Because people don’t want to look at the same images all the time. What they love is seeing the “unique” behind your product or service.
Here’s a quick example. We often use an image of a welcome sign or mat on websites. It works well on pages that are welcoming people to a product or service. Go search on a popular stock image website for “welcome mat” and you’ll discover lots of options. You could pick one that suits your “look” and be done with it. A better, more authentic option is to take a photo of the real welcome sign you have at your company. Visitors who shop with you will make the connection! And the image overall will feel more real and authentic because … well … because it is real and authentic.
One last comment before I share the list:
It’s not about capturing a technically perfect image.
It’s about “getting the shot” – telling the story you want to tell.
I once shot a photo of a wheelchair athlete as he attempted his first-ever public backflip. I am a complete amateur photographer. There was a pro with me – also shooting photos. We both caught an image. The company sent the Wall Street Journal his photo and mine. Which photo did they print? Mine! Why? Because I managed to capture the athlete upside-down in mid-air. The pro didn’t quite get that particular shot and in the end – my shot was the one that told the story.
7 Tips for Taking Great Smart Phone Photos for Your Marketing
1. Take your photos in landscape format. Wide, not tall.
2. Pay attention to the background behind your subject.
- Aim for a background that has a consistent, repeating pattern.
- If your subject is lightly colored, go for a dark background. If your subject is dark, go for a light background. These techniques will create contrast and make your subject shine.
- If you are shooting photos of products check out Replica Surfaces for affordable, stain-resistant, lightweight, US-made background surfaces. The company is the brain-child of a woman and the website is a treasure-trove of quality tips perfect for small, women-owned businesses.
3. Take multiple photos of your subject, holding your camera at different angles. This technique changes the perspective and gives you more options from which to choose.
- Hold your phone up high and aim the camera down at your subject.
- Getting down low (on your knees or even lay on the ground) and aim the camera up at the subject.
- Take the photo from a standing position, but tilt the camera up and then down – to capture the image from different angles.
- Tilt your camera a little to the left or right, a little forward or backward. Instead of just holding it square.
4. Check the position of your subject. If you are taking a photo of people encourage them to place their arms in different positions and tilt their bodies different directions. Rather than having them stand directly facing the camera with their arms folded in front of them. One great options if to have them put one hand on their hip and tilt their opposite shoulder back. Remind them to look up slightly (which disappears double-chins). And capture at least half their upper body in the photo – from the waist up.
5. Leave lots of space around the focal point of your photo. That means don’t crop in really tight. By leaving the extra space your graphic designer will be able to do more with your image when they use it in your marketing.
6. Take your photos in high resolution. High resolution captures more data in the photo file. Doing so makes it possibly.
7. Lighting. Check your image on the display screen. If it looks too dark, shoot again from a different angle to get more light on your subject. If it looks too bright, move the subject into the shadows. The best light to work with is natural daylight (not the light from indoor lightbulbs). I have clients who set up their Replica Surfaces on their balcony and shoot all their product photos outside to take advantage of the great light. Photographers love the magic hour after sunrise and again before sundown.
There’s lots more information online that can help you improve your photos. Master my tip list first and then keep learning. And most of all, have fun shooting your photos!
Would you like these types of tips on a monthly basis? One-on-one support to direct your marketing efforts and increase productivity? Sign up to work with me one-on-one!