How to take a photo for your business profile
Having your business look well is important and involves having pleasant and informative imagery attached to your brand, and in order to do so, we generally either employ a professional photographer or get dirty ourselves, depending on whether we know how to take a photo or not.
“Sure it’s easy, anyone can take a picture, all you have to do is point and click. All I need is a camera and off I go”.
Try saying that to your local photographer and watch the vein on his forehead develop, unlike his favoured long lost film.
Being content creators for digital media ourselves, we know what works and what does not. 80% of imagery presented to us are not of a professional standard to employ on a website or anywhere else in fact, whether it be because of poor resolution, framing, lighting etc, they just don’t work. Poor imagery can make a website look unprofessional and in turn, this reflects on the businesses perceived standards. The alternative is stock photography, which does not reflect the actual business itself or any of its staff, plus it employs people with disturbingly white teeth. In order to connect with customers, a business needs to put its best foot forward, get its makeup on and get closer to the customer.
If you are going to take the photos yourself, make sure to follow some of the following guidelines (because if we do happen to build a website for you, and you give us blurred photos… we will not be happy)
Most if not all of us have a smartphone these days and perhaps very few of us have DSLR cameras. In fact, some of the new smartphones take seriously great shots, such as the new iPhone 7 and the Samsung S8 range.
The thing is, a photographer with a €3,000 camera, all the best L lenses in his bag, does not necessarily entitle him or her to be able to take a great photo. It is what is behind the camera that matters. Technique and knowing the fundamentals if followed will produce a much higher quality of photo no matter if it is taken on a Smartphone or a Canon 5D.
Technique is actually more important than the camera technology as stated above. Even with the best camera, if you do not stop and think about the photo before you shoot, you won’t be getting good results. Last year, I was sent a great shot from a relative of mine at my wedding that she took with her smartphone. I ended up using it in my wedding album it was that good.
This year, I was supposed to do a wedding in Ko Phangan, Thailand and ended up missing the flight. I arrived agonisingly 15 minutes after the ceremony had taken place and could see them leave the temple just as I arrived on the boat 6,100 miles later. On the bright side, I was lucky as it was a family member, there were no lawsuits but nonetheless; I despise Aer Lingus to this day for not allowing me on the plane as it sat there in Dublin.
The long story short, everyone had a smartphone there that day. I ended up gathering c.1,500 photos from all friends and family at the event. I picked out the best photos, edited them and few would notice the difference. Of course 1,400 of them were truly awful and binned. Not because of the quality of the phone, it was because they did not know how to take a photo in the first place. Surprisingly, of the 100 photos salvageable, 90 of them were from the same phone which indicates that the person using it knew something of what they were doing. Of course, this was a wedding and not for a website, but the lesson is the same.
If it is possible to do a wedding with photos from a smartphone, then it is possible to take photos of sufficient quality of a business.
Whether it be on your facebook page, your website or your blog. If you follow a few simple tips, you should be on the road to creating more engaging and more professional photographs.
Photography Tips and Tricks
Let these tips be an introduction, as the art of photography can take years to master. The basics of photography are the same whether you are holding a Canon 5D or a Samsung S8 Plus.
Everyone should know them regardless as it is a good skill to have on those family occasions such as Christmas, Christenings, Selfies etc. If you do happen to have a point and click, DSLR or mid-range camera, the same principles apply.
1. Know your camera (Smartphone)
The best advice I can give anyone is to play around. Get to know what it does first. Check out all the settings and if there is a manual setting, play with that too. You are hardly going to break it so just fiddle, fiddle and fiddle. This is how we learn, by trying.
Most smartphones have auto modes based on photographic scenarios. These include portrait, landscape, night, sport etc. They are not there for the fun of it and have been tested by the developers to mimic settings used in getting the best photo in each scenario.
Camera phones are now coming with higher and higher resolutions. A lot of this is marketing gibberish but regardless it is always best to use the highest resolution possible for your phone.
The higher setting, the higher quality and clarity. If you are worried about space, get a new SD Card and never sacrifice quality for space as you might come back with photos that are not much better than thumbnails, which are virtually unusable.
3. Auto Mode
If you are afraid of the big “M”, then just use the auto mode, to begin with. Cameras are generally configured to take the best shot for you to suit the situation and lighting. Of course, if it’s not exactly what you want, you may want to try Manual to get more precision.
Again, the Auto Modes such as “Portrait”, “Landscape”, “Sport” etc. will create a better photo according to the situation. Be aware of what is in front of you. If it moves fast, use “Sport”, if it is dark, use “Night”. Simple.
“Practice makes perfect”. Get out, annoy your kids, employees, cows, flowers, landscapes. Just do it. The cost of taking a picture on your phone is zero.
The more you do it, the more you practice the better your shots will be. We all have thousands of crap photos cramming up our storage devices. Photos that will be rarely ever seen again. Why not take photos of value?
Tip: Give yourself “FIVE MINUTES” before you take the shot, think about it first and press the shutter when the time is up.
5. White Balance
Have a look at this article as white balance is something that is overlooked and mainly only photographers can understand.
Basically, there are different lighting situations. Have you ever taken a photo that looks a bit blue? Of course, it looks cold. It is not easy to get a photo that looks EXACTLY as you see it. With a little training, however, it is possible.
We have a number of different lighting situations. Sun, no sun(shade), flourescent lighting, tungsten(bulb) to name a few. Auto does not always give the exact condition so in what is called the Kelvin scale, temperatures can be adjusted manually to get the right result.
ISO help a lot when the lighting is dim. It also introduces something known as grain and noise. Grain and noise can look terrible and deteriorates the photo if there is too much. You will know how high you can push the ISO on your camera only by testing. Some camera’s can allow very high ISO settings and others very little.
Pushing up the ISO can help expose the setting better, if the scene is dark and you do not want to use the flash. Flash will kill the ambient lighting in a room and can look awful if not used correctly. It produces a harsh, contrast in lighting conditions.
Tip: Smartphones will be seriously affected if ISO is increased significantly so try to introduce more lighting into the situation.
7. Rule of Thirds
Rule of thirds: This is very important in photo composition. If you follow this rule, you will soon see that your photos are actually starting to look significantly better. Here is a link to a site that will explain it in more detail.
The rule says that the “IMPORTANT” elements in the photo should lie on one of the lines or intersections. Try putting the focus on your subject along these lines and then put the subject in the centre. Which looks better?
Try to find an alternative angle. Pictures taken of people or places “front on” look more and more like passport photos, BORING. Things look more interesting from a different angle. Some look better, some look worse.
We all have our good and bad sides and by analysing different angles, we will soon figure out where it is that makes the subject look better. Do not be afraid to get close either as some of the best shots are subjects in detail.
Use Auto Focus, as there is not really any other option for most smartphones. We can, however, touch the screen to focus in on particular objects. Make sure your subject is clear.
All too many times in photos, the subject is out of focus. That is terminal in a photos life. It looks TERRIBLE.
If you have a tripod, monkey grip, stand, use it, particularly in darkly lit situations. It is bad enough trying to focus in the dark, but if you are holding the camera in poorly lit conditions and do not want to use the flash, there will be motion blur all over it.
Do not use it if it is not necessary. It makes for harsh looking photos, particularly of people. Open a window, bring some other light in beside the subject or in front of them.
It may take a little bit more brain power but it will make for a much better picture.
12. Shutter and Aperture
In manual mode, the shutter controls the speed of light entering the camera. The slower the shutter opening and closing, the more light that enters. With a slow shutter, it increases the risk of camera shake.
The Aperture controls the how wide the shutter opens and the amount of light that enters. The wider the more light enters giving a shallow depth of field, bokeh or blur as you might see in the background. Depending on what you are looking, this can look great and gives more attention to your subject.
Whether it be for a website, social media, brochures, etc: if you want your business to look more professional and find hiring a professional photographer every time you need to get photos taken inconvenient, try and follow these tips on how to take a photo and you should soon be on your way to making your local photographer unemployed.
Saying that, it takes years to become a highly skilled professional photographer and a trade that has become extremely challenging with recent technological advances, invariably to the detriment of quality.
If you do not feel comfortable with your photography, consider having a chat with iBrutes.