As the old saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words, and for small businesses that’s never been more true than now, with consumers relying on photographs they see on social media to make decisions about where to go and what to buy. Whether you’re adding photos to Instagram, your Facebook business page, your Yelp page, or your business’s mobile story on the SpotOn consumer app, taking professional looking photos is a must. Here are 7 tips to do just that.
1. Take Pictures that Tell Your Business Story
What makes your business stand out from competitors? More importantly, how can you visually show customers what makes your business great? The answers to those two questions might not be the same.
For example, if you own a restaurant, the food you prepare is probably what you’re most proud of, but here’s the hard truth: it’s really difficult to take appetizing looking photos of food unless you’re a professional photographer. Instead, the best way to show-off your food visually might be by taking “behind-the-scenes” photos of your cook preparing a steak over a flaming grill. Or maybe, it’s a shot of your happy guests enjoying your food.
2. Pay Attention to Lighting
Natural lighting is always the easiest to work with, so if possible, take your photos during the day time. If you’re indoors, make sure those curtains or blinds are open, then supplement as needed with indoor lights. Just avoid fluorescent lights, which can give your photos a weird blue tint. If you’re outside, try to shoot first thing in the morning or in the evening so the midday sunlight doesn’t wash everything out.
Also, take advantage of shadows to create eye-catching photos. For example, filtered sunlight shining on one side a customer’s face from a window will create striking contrast. Similarly, taking a photo of well lit product with a dark or blurry background makes the product pop.
3. Be Creative with Colors and Perspective
Lighting isn’t the only way to create photos that pop. Make sure you’re thinking about how the colors in your photo blend and contrast with one another. If an earthen colored product gets lost when you try to take a picture of it on a wooden table, for example, try throwing a light colored table cloth over the table first.
Also think about perspective. How does the subject of your picture look when shot from above, or below, or with some compelling items in the background?
4. Follow the Rule of Thirds
Surprisingly, the human eye is not drawn to the center of a photograph or image. Rather, the main area of focus is one-third of the way in from the border. Take advantage of this and place the object you want to highlight in one of these four prime locations when taking photos.
5. Avoid Staged Shots of People
It’s all well and good to take a staged product shot for a menu or website, but if you’re capturing people in action, make sure they’re actually in-action, not pretending. You don’t want your business photos to look like they’re paid models. Customers can sniff that out and it comes across as disingenuous.
6. Take a Lot of Photos and Edit Them
The beauty of modern digital cameras is we don’t have to worry about wasting film. Take advantage of that fact, and fire off as many shots as necessary to get a few that looks good.
Likewise, don’t be afraid to use digital tools to edit them. Thanks to the popularity of Instagram, most photo editing programs have filters you can easily use to make photos look professional. Also, don’t forget to crop your photos so that there’s not extraneous background in the photo, particularly considering that more and more consumers will be viewing your photos on a mobile phone with a relatively small screen compared to a computer.
7. Hire a Pro or Buy Yourself a High Quality Camera
The cameras on mobile phones these days are pretty amazing, and they’re perfectly fine for social media pics, particularly when used with filters. However, if you’re going to need product photos or headshots for your website or printed material, you’ll want to hire a professional photographer or purchase a high-quality DSLR camera.
If you go the latter routed, make sure you learn how to use your new camera and practice, practice, practice! Even the best technology in the world can’t make you a professional photographer overnight.