The Best Camera is the One You Have
Many small business owners hesitate to share photos on social media because they don't don't know if their images are good enough.
We recommend hiring a professional photographer to take your printable promotional photos. Check with your photographer that you can also use these on social media. But, you do not have to be a professional photographer to take photos.
A good photo doesn't require a high-end, expensive, professional camera. Great photos can be taken with your cell phone come. Below are a few tricks to keep in mind when you take photos. Also, it doesn't hurt to practice. You want to be ready when a magic moment arrives!
1. Check the Light
Your promotional photographs should all have a similar feeling to them. They should also be consistent with your brand.
If you already have professional promotional images, then sit down and review them. You want your social media photos to look and feel similar -- the same mood.
If you do not already have promotional photos, then create a "look book" of images that capture the type of photos you want to emulate.
Light has the strongest effect on how a photo looks and the mood it sets. As you review your reference photos, ask yourself a few questions and write down your answers and observations in one place.
Is it warm like orange or cool like blue? Warm colors are typically associated with summer, whereas cool colors are winter.
What time of day were they taken?
If the picture was taken outside, also note the type of weather. Bright, clear skies often cause harsh shadows. If the photo has clear skies and soft shadows, then there were either a cloud in the sky or something (like a white sheet) was used to diffuse the harsh light.
Bright Even Light from Mid-day
If the photo was taken inside, is there light coming in through a window?
NO INTERIOR LIGHT
IS THE LIGHTING NATURAL, ARTIFICIAL, OR A MIX OF BOTH?
Test the light sources you have available, particularly if you plan on taking pictures of people. Fluorescent light has a green to the light, which makes most people look sick. Warm colors are most flattering for portraits.
EXPOSED SINGLE LIGHTBULB
IS THE LIGHT SOFT OR HARSH?
Keep a notebook
Create guidelines and a checklist for photos that you or a staffer can refer to. Our staff favorite is Evernote, a searchable & shareable notebook database. Available online, computer, and mobile devices. You can access everything from everywhere. Upload images with information on camera settings, where the original photo is stored, etc.
Your photos do not need to be perfect. They just need to be close to the guidelines you create for your business.
If you have a brick and mortar store, do a day of tests to find the best time of day to photograph inside. Keep the test and notes as a reference in your notebook. Test out different times of day and lighting situations to compare and contrast.
Once you know what works, keep with it.
2. Show Your Small Business Brand Character
Create a library of photographs that capture the brand image you want to project.
What kind of activity does your business have? How do you want potential customers to think of your business? ...Or better question, what kind of activity do you want your business to have?
If you are posting pictures of people and the people are identifiable in it, ask permission before you post it online. Remember to respect people's privacy.
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A BOOK AND CUP OF JOE
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A soft-focus or blurry background in a photograph allows the viewer to complete the rest of the image with their own vision.
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3. Frame Your Shot
Once you find the mood of your shots, begin playing with composition. A simple way to step outside of a perfectly symmetrical photo is to use your lens to look through objects. You can use windows, arches, and mirrors to frame your shots and add variation.
Consider the environment around your business. Shops are not stand alone entities. They are tied to their street and the people who call the neighborhood home.
You may see your shop the same way every day, but your customers won't. Capture what is happening around you and blend it into your brand.
Photography Rule of Thirds
The basic principle of the photography rule of thirds is to break the image into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so that there are 9 parts.
The theory is that an image is balanced if you place points of interest in the intersections or along the lines.
4. Represent Your Business Through Lifestyle
What is the character of your brand?
The character of your brand should be reflective of your ideal customer. ... All companies have a lifestyle they should project. An accountant? Perhaps their brand reflects a financially secure family. A pet store? A happy cat with a happy family.
5. Add Motion
Another way to add variation is to explore motion. The motion of people, of things... Everything has motion. Putting on a jacket. Walking down the street. A bicycle going down the street.
Unless you're a music venue, motion might be one of the harder tricks to pull off.
6. Treat Your Phone Like a Real Camera
For most of your photos, you will want them to be crisp and clean. Make it easy on yourself and use a tripod when you can. Find a tripod made for your phone. A flexible tripod will give you the ability to take a photo nearly anywhere. A pocket tripod or PopSocket can also do the trick and will ensure you always have a tripod with you.
There are also external lenses you can buy that will enhance your camera's abilities. If your photos are for social media, you won't necessarily need a ton of pixels. Yet, like an analog camera, it is your lens that changes the quality of your photos. Photojojo makes all lenses for iPhone and Android with plenty of options and packages, so you are sure to find what you need with them.
7. Build a Photo Library and Recycle
Make sure your hard work doesn't go to waste and backup your photos. Two great options are Dropbox and Evernote. Dropbox allows you to automatically upload your photos as you take them. Evernote is not automatic, but you can tag them so they are easy to find when you are ready to edit.
Everyone Has to Begin Somewhere
If you are hesitant to begin, remember photography requires practice. Start with your smartphone or what you have on hand. You don't need an expensive camera to get great photos. Instagram is proof of that.
Read More About PHOTOGRAPHY
10 iPhone Camera Features Every Photographer Should Use | iPhone Photography School
"Turn on the grid. The grid (two horizontal and two vertical lines that divide the screen into nine equal parts) is one of the most useful photography tools on the iPhone."