How to take great photos

A picture is worth 1,247 words…especially when it’s your online business profile picture. The images that represent your company to your customers make a big difference. The value of your products and the trustworthiness of your business are judged by the quality of your look - and good photography plays a huge part.

1. Name an image when you upload it

When you name your photo, or a video, use words that people use to look for what you do. It all helps boost your search. For example, if it's a picture of a mechanic by a car, call it something like ‘great mechanic fixing engines’.

2. Use the right light

Natural light is the most forgiving and should be used whenever possible. Typically, taking your photos in the early morning or late afternoon will give you the best results.

Go for big windows or for an outdoors shot. Soft shadows are created when the size of the light source is larger than the subject. If you’re inside, use a big lamp or a what is known as a flash diffuser to avoid a hard shadow. You can make your own diffuser by taking white tape or a piece of white plastic and attaching it to the flash on your camera. The light will then be distributed in a softer, more even way rather than centered in one spot.

3. Keep the camera steady

As you take a picture, even the slightest vibration or movement can cause blur. And the closer you get to an object the more obvious the blur gets.

A tripod will make sure you remain totally stable as you take the picture. They are generally not expensive and will make a big difference in the sharpness of your images. You can also get tripods for your phone. If you’re using the camera on your smartphone and don’t have a tripod, try leaning it up against a sturdy object to stop any movement.

4. Get your people comfortable with the camera

If you’re taking shots of people, they need to look at the camera and smile. Make sure they have a clear gaze. This shot gives you a great example.

Research shows that things that get in the way, like sunglasses, or light glare, can affect how customers judge a how good they think a business is. Smiling increases all the good scores – things like likability and skills. But a closed lip smile only adds half the scores of a full smile. Dress to suit: If you are a mechanic then overalls are great. If you are a business consultant then formal dress is the way to go. Either way, look smart and look the part.

5. Give your products the right background

White works. For product photography, a clean white background often looks best because it directs focus onto the product.

A curved white background is called the “Infinity Curve”, where products sit against an endless white background that doesn’t show any horizon, only a clear white view. To create this, place a piece of white paper or fabric and bend it to create a curve. Your product will be the center of the photo - and the only thing to capture the customer’s attention. Use lamps to create your lighting.

6. Give things a sense of scale

Some products might not be easily recognised or are unfamiliar, so people don’t know what size to expect.

If you include an item in the image that people are familiar with, it can help to give a sense of the size of your product. For example, a small perfume bottle can be put in perspective if you put something like a standard sized pencil next to it.

7. Keep it real

Take pictures of your product in a way that will help people relate to how they would use it in real life.

For example, if you are selling jewelry or clothing, having at least one picture of your product on a person is great. Potential customers will get an idea of how the item will look on them and it could show the type of customer you’re aiming for.

8. Try things out

As you take your photos, try some unusual angles. Now we use digital technology and not film you can take as many shots as you like and just keep what works. This means you can experiment.

Play around with getting close ups and look for unique points of view that tell a story. You never know what angle will end up revealing the most impressive or attractive tale, so test and learn. Of course, keep in mind that you still want to accurately reflect your products’ size, shape and quality to ensure sales and customer satisfaction. And get a second and third opinion on your artistic efforts - but don’t be afraid to try things. That being said, avoid filters. Nowadays, it feels like everyone is taking photos on phones and using filters. While this is fun with friends, it is not great for a business. Use of filters can make customers question your product quality and trust in your representation. Keep it clean and simple.

9. Edit out problems

As you choose images for your site, make sure they are about the same size. Choose 1-3 different sizes from large to medium and small.

Edit your photos to fit one of the pre-selected sizes so that you won’t have too much variation – you want a consistent look and feel. If you have a great shot but it has something in a corner you didn’t want there or issues with colour, you can edit them out. You don’t have to be a web designer or even very computer savvy – just upload your pictures into any photo editing software and have a go. It’s fun and things like cropping and color correction can make a big difference.