If you are a business owner and wishing to improve your photography, these are 5 simple changes which you can make to improve the images you put out there. Nowadays, there is simply no excuse to share images that are below average, as the competition to produce great content is fierce. Although I use a professional level DSLR in conjunction with my iPhone, all these changes can be made with a decent smart phone, assuming you have upgraded in the last few years.
- Turn the Lights off.
Now, I am 47 so turning the lights off is something that comes very naturally to me, as leaving the lights on isn't really an option. You will notice when photographing in artificial light, the image will have an orange glow and often distort the colours in the image. You can, to a certain extent fix this in post production, but the easiest way to get you on the right track in the first instance is to always shoot in natural light. Always go to the best source of light. Often this will be immediately next to a window, so if you are shooting a product in a lifestyle setting, look to place the object on the left or the right of the window, so there is a nice light coming from one direction. Depending on the time of day and the position of the Sun, this may cast shadows on your subject, which can of course be beautiful, but a simple way to resolve this is to place something across the window, like a light muslin cloth to diffuse the light and make the light more consistent. The phone cameras nowadays are very adept at coping with low light conditions, so although for you it may seem too dark, turn the lights off and see the difference it makes. Plus you can always add a little exposure in the editing tool afterwards. Try taking a few shots of the same objects in the same place, but with you moving around the object. You will see just how much impact the different angles of light sources have on the subject.
When photographing a still life set-up it's too simple to just stand in front of the subject without changing your height position. If you were to move up or down, how does it change the image? Try to get level with the subject by bending your knees, or what happens if you place a hand in the frame to have a different perspective (known as 1st person pov). Take a handful of different shots, placing yourself at different angles and then compare each shot to the next to see what is the most successful image, where is your eye drawn? Scale is a fun thing to play with, but it's also important that any objects for the purpose of product photography are presented correctly, to avoid confusion to the consumer. Other objects placed with the product can also achieve this. Also remember the aspect ratio you require i.e. is it a square picture (instagram grid) or a 16:9 (insta stories) or a banner for a website. If you set up the image in the ratio you need, it will be easier when it comes to editing.
3. Consistent Background
When starting out on the photography journey as a business, I always recommend you put together a mood-board which gives examples of the style of photographs you aspire to take, plus the colours you will incorporate, so that there is a consistent look and fill to your images. This will really help when you are displaying images on social media platforms and/or your website. To create a consistent look of images, use the same/similar backdrops, i.e.which you can change at different times of the year, either as you produce a new collection or seasonally. You can purchase lots of different backdrops or create your own by having MDF panels cut and painting them different colours. Or use fabric and attach with bulldog clips to a curtain rail. Lots of options.
Editing is another brilliant way to enhance your photographs. Most of us already know about the editing tools which exist in Instagram, filters is one of those examples, however by using preset filters or other Instagrammers presets, you are not creating your own look and for me each image needs different editing, one size doesn't fit all. I personally use Adobe Lightroom, (other apps are available such as VSCO, Snapsneed and Photoshop Fix). You can download Lightroom for free. Although you will not have all of the menu options that you do have with the paid option, you will have more than enough to start with. This is where you can add exposure, or more contrast, clarity or simple straighten up the photograph and crop, which often people seem to forget to do.
5. Depth of Field
You may have read about the introduction of the 3 lenses on the newer phones. I have included Depth of Field as Tip 5, as being able to create emphasis on one object, (Depth of Field - the distance between the closest and farthest objects in a photo that appears acceptably sharp). We have been familiar with using the Portrait Mode in the phones which did exactly that for us, (i.e. focusing on the face, and creating a blur behind), whereas now with the introduction of 3 lenses, you can create the same look with inanimate objects. Something that is very easily achievable in DSLR, but hasn't been with a phone. The key to great photography among other things is having the ability to control how your image looks i.e. exposure, contrast, depth of field, composition etc. .