We all know that a beautiful photograph catches our eye and makes us look closer; and we all want people to stop and look closer at our website, or our social media posts to find out more about our business, get to know us and to purchase our product or service. Hand in hand with consistent branding and well-edited text comes eye-catching photography.
Much like the branding ideas that Michelle Ramsay wrote about previously, the photographs you use for your business should tell your viewers something about what values your business stands for, whether that be fresh, healthy food; or friendly, professional, helpful people – service with a smile; or relaxing and luxurious holidays. The images you present to your potential customers can help make them your actual customers.
Your business image – what does it say?
Before you take any photographs, have in mind what you want the photographs to say about your business. Take the time to create a brief for yourself: describe in a few sentences what the images on your website and social media should say to people who see them and write that down as a part of your overall marketing and branding plans.
When it’s time to take the photographs you should now have an idea of what style of images you want that can promote your business’ values.
Taking the photos
- Use a DSLR camera if you can – If you have access to a DSLR rather than a mobile phone, use that instead – the quality of photograph you’ll get is much higher, and its easier to frame the image when looking through a viewfinder than looking at a screen. If you’re worried about all the settings, just leave it at its automatic Program setting.
- Pay attention to light – it may sound obvious, but light is all there is in photography. Without it there’s no colour, no shadow, just black! If you’re taking portraits, don’t take them in bright sunshine – it makes people squint, which is unflattering, and it casts harsh shadows, which can also be unflattering. Instead move them next to a bright window or other source of soft light. The same goes for product photographs.
- Pay attention to the background – this is where using a viewfinder on a DSLR helps, as it blocks out everything else you see forcing you to pay attention to whether the person you’re photographing has a branch sticking out from behind their head, or the cat is wandering through the background of your product photo.
- Make sure your subject is clear – this relates to paying attention to the background. Add or remove objects or move your subject around to eliminate distracting elements so that the image is unequivocally about that person, or that product and has the background you want to show.
Editing the photos
Your branding ideas can come into play again with editing the photos. Don’t skip this step! If you’ve been using a mobile phone to take the photos you’ll have access to a few tools on the mobile that will help you to edit the photos to make them clearer, or to boost the colours or lighten the shadows if they’re too dark. Look for Adobe Photoshop or Snapseed on both Android and iPhone. The free versions will allow you to make the photos clean and consistent.
You may wish to use filters to make a style across your images. If you do, go easy on it – an image that’s too obviously ‘filtered’ can look like you’re trying too hard.
If you’ve used a DSLR, you’ll need to copy the photos on to your computer and use something like Adobe Photoshop or it’s little brother Photoshop Elements, both of which you’ll need to buy if you don’t have them, or a free, but powerful program like DarkTable. All of those programs are available for Windows and for Mac.
Over to you
With these tips in mind you’ll be able to start taking better photographs for your business – photographs that fit with your branding and marketing plans and that will better catch the eye of your potential customers.
About the author
I’m Paul Ligas, a professional commercial and fine art photographer in Ledbury, Herefordshire. I have decades of experience taking and editing photographs for clients in the West Midlands and across the UK. My style is naturalistic and natural light. You can get in touch with me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org; on my website https://paulligas.com; or through social media on Twitter @paulligas, Facebook @paulligasphotography, Instagram @paulligasphotography and LinkedIn @paulligasphotography.