Be prepared when opportunity knocks
The best way to get started is for you or your team to take photos on the job, either in progress or on completion. With a few handy tricks, even today’s smartphones can capture a high-quality digital image.
“Obviously taking photos can be a sensitive activity, especially in private homes,” Ida says. “Be sure to seek the customer’s permission and graciously accept their choice, whichever way it goes. If they’re on board, having a simple property release form printed off makes it easy for them to put it in writing.” (There are plenty of online templates, including this one.) Having a few forms handy in your vehicle or bag will make this as convenient as possible.
Choose your time of day
The best time of day to take photos will depend on what you’re photographing, and the effect you want to achieve. The difference comes from the presence and direction of sunlight, and the contrast between light and shadows.
“Pay attention to direct or indirect sunlight,” Ida advises. “More sunlight, especially direct sunlight, creates high contrast. This is ideal for capturing textures, or any scenario where you want to highlight one dramatic element.”
Indirect sunlight creates lighter shadows, as do overcast conditions outdoors. This helps to capture anything close to the window without losing too much detail in the shadows. “If you’re aiming to give an impression of how a product feels in the room, say for example, curtains or roller blinds, low contrast will most likely work best,” says Ida, “This will give a more balanced light and a sense of what’s outside the window. When you can, take the time to experiment with the effects of different lights on your photos, especially when you’re starting out.”
Do not tilt
Much as we may like to experiment with “arty” angles, it’s wise to ensure you hold your camera straight on when taking a product shot.
“You can lower or raise the lens to get the frame right, but tilting it downward or upward will create distortion that is confusing to the eye out of context,” says Ida.
“To check an image, look for vertical lines – these should be truly vertical, not leaning.” Ida continues. “Horizontal angles, like shooting along a shelf into the distance, is less risky from a visual standpoint, but should still be used with caution.”
Build a varied library
By taking a wide range of sample shots, you can gradually build a library of varied imagery that will catch the eye and spark the imagination of your clientele.
Ensure that you’re able to tell your customers the whole story, by capturing a range of images of your work in real-life situations. Below are Ida’s key recommendations for curating your own photo collection:
- Start with wider angles of a whole room or scene, and move closer with mid-range shots centred on your product, and then close-up shots for detail. Having this range of shots lets you point to different aspects, such as context in the home or a finely finished surface.
- Show how your product or service can be applied in different settings. A new way of looking at a familiar item can be a real boost for inspiration, and a handy way for potential clients to imagine your product in their life.
- Before and after photos are always useful, especially when it’s a dramatic change. When capturing, be sure to get the angle and lighting as closely matched as possible; this ensures a genuine match of like for like, lending authenticity and credence to the comparison.
Use your phone’s camera features
While camera technology is unknown territory for many of us, most smartphone cameras have easy adjustment tools to help you capture the image you want.
“Tapping on an item in the frame on the screen will move the focus to that point – this alone can sharpen up the digital detail,” Ida says. ”Your phone camera will measure the light on this spot. If it is too light or dark, simply slide your finger up for brightening, or down for darkening your photo. This is very useful in high-contrast situations”
As with most jobs, the most important part of taking better business photos is to get started.
At Ark Advance, we can give you more tailored advice for your digital marketing needs – and if you’re ready to enlist a pro (and you’re in Auckland), give Ida Larsson a call at White Lynx Photography.