Regularly sharing insight into your business is important for getting potential customers to know, like and trust you, so unless you have the budget to hire a photographer to follow you round every day, chances are you will need to take your own photos sometimes, even if you hire a professional for the main images.
How to Avoid Grainy, blurry images
Lighting is key to taking good images with your phone. All camera’s need light to make an image, and since phones are so much smaller than professional cameras, they can’t capture as much light. This means that if you try to take a photo in a dark environment, your phone will try to compensate for the lack of light, and you will end up with blurry, grainy images.
The easy way to avoid this is to make sure you have enough light to work with. You can do this in two ways;
Use natural light
Natural light is much more powerful than normal indoor lights. Use it indoors by photographing next to a window.
Place your subject next to a window. Look at the shadows. If it is a sunny day and the shadows are very defined, the lighting is harsh. move your subject a little further from the light, or diffuse the light, for example using a net curtain.
Use a reflector on the other side of your subject. A reflector is just something big and white which will bounce some of the window light back onto your subject, to make the light more even. You can purchase reflectors from Amazon for around £10 to £20. You can also use a large foamboard from a craft store. This is great because it doubles up as a backdrop or surface for your product as well. Anything white will do, the larger the better as the bigger the surface, the more light will be reflected. In the past I have used a white sheet hung over a clothes dryer.
If the window lighting is not sufficient, open the front door and place your items just inside.
Use a studio set-up
If you are photographing small items, a light tent is perfect. These are small, portable boxes made up of white material that soften the lighting. Some are pre-lit and others can be lit with lamps fitted with daylight bulbs.
The Art of the Flat lay
Flat lay photography, simply laying out items and photographing them from above, has been popular with bloggers and small businesses for a while. It’s popular because it’s perfect for small scale, mobile phone photography. Firstly, you don’t need to worry about distracting elements in the background (so you don’t have to put away the laundry!). Secondly, it doesn’t matter if you are using a phone or a dSLR. Professional cameras can selectively focus on an item and make other items blurry, mobile phone cameras can’t (at least, not to the same extent). with flatlays it doesn’t matter. All the items are in focus.
Flaylays shouldn’t be the only style of photography you use, but they are useful in social media for helping people connect with your product or service. E.g. a pretty planner, jam packed with appointments, would resonate with a busy mum.
This works great for service providers too. Think about what sort of items would resonate with your ideal client.
If you’re not arty, or you don’t happen to have a rose gold macbook hanging round, don’t worry. You can purchase flatlays and flatlay mockups online. Some are designed with a space for you to add your product, e.g. a wall with an empty frame for your print. Others can used as they are, or you could add a quote to them using a mobile phone app like Phonto.to
If you’ve purchased a mock-up and you need to add your image, a graphic designer or photo editor will be able to do this for you. Contact me if you need help with this.
If you have a service, you still need to have images. Images allow potential clients to get to know you and your business. If you have a service based business or sell products that re harder to photograph e.g. clothes, I recommend hiring a professional photographer who can work with you to create a bank of images for you to use across your website and social media platforms. If you don’t have a products, here are some examples of the type of images you can post.
- Behind the scenes images
- Pictures of you working
- Before and after transformation of a client
- Images of your work space
- Images of your personal life that relate to your business (e.g. a personal trainer could share a snap of healthy veg they got at the farmers market, a childminder could share an image of a fun local attraction that parents might not know about)
The images you post should fit in with your content plan to help potential clients know, like and trust you. So post a mix of images. Post tips to be seen as an expert and post personal images so people can get to know you.
For example, Lucy is a yoga teacher. For her personal branding session, we did some yoga poses for her website, but we also did some more lifestyle images for her to use on social media, such as the image below of her studying.
Instagram is a great way to connect with potential customers, personally I find engagement is better on Instagram as you can follow your customers back and make a community. Images are key on Instagram. Quotes are great but they should be mixed with images.
When posting to Instagram, consider the layout of your photos. People who like your images will visit your profile, and if it is consistent they are more likely to follow you and engage with your brand. There are tools you can use to layout your photos before you post, so you can see how they work as a grid. Later.com always you to schedule your posts, and has a preview function you can use to see how your images work together. It’s free to schedule up to 30 posts a month. Plann is designed with visuals in mind. It lets you drag and drop your images into a layout that’s pleasing. It’s also free for up to 30 posts a month, but for a few pounds a month more you can have unlimited posts and access to helpful analytics.
Using Influencers to take images for you
Instagram brand reps or influences are people who will share your work with their audiences in exchange for products, services, or a fee. They can be great because they will share your offerings with their follows, so it’s important to choose an influencer whose audience is your ideal client. Brand reps vary from Instagram celebrities who will charge a hefty fee to local parents who will share some photos of their child wearing your product in exchange for a pair of your organic cotton leggings. Who you choose and whether or not you are willing to pay will depend on where you are in your business and what you think you’ll get out of it. When choosing a brand rep it’s important to consider the following;
- Do they have consistently good photography? I’ve put this one top because obviously if you want to reuse their photos they need to be good. They need to be well lit, a pleasing composition and a style that matches your own.
- Are they willing to give you the high resolution images as part of the agreement? It’s easy to repost a photo they took on your Instagram using an app like Instagetter, but Instagram images are low resolution, so if you want to use their images on your website or printed materials, be sure to confirm this in the agreement before you deliver products or services. Consider having a contract in place. You can get a free template from Influencer Marketing Hub. N.B. – You need high resolution images from the influencer and permission to use them, you DO NOT need them to give you the copyright, Copyright usually stays with the photographer and will not affect you unless you try to sell the images.
- Does their feed fit with the look you are trying to achieve? This includes what sort of lifestyle they have, other companies they work with and the style of their editing. For example, if you have a range of modern, monochrome clothing for stylish children, then an influencer who regularly posts pictures of her child’s scandi-chic netural nursery will fit perfectly.
- Do they shoot with a mobile phone or a dSLR? If you just want to re-post their images on your social media and share a few on your website, a mobile will be fine. However, if you want the images to be more high profile, e.g. larger images on your website, promotional materials then ensure they take the images with a professional camera.
- Are their followers your target market? – Will their posts appeal to your customers. You can view their follow list and check out some profiles of their followers
- Do they have an engaged following – huge follower numbers don’t mean anything. They could be bots or the influencers could have used shady follow/unfollow techniques to gain follows. What’s important is that people engage with their content. Does they content have lots of comments. What are people talking about in the comments?
I’ve put stock photography at the bottom because I think it’s important for your images to show you and your business. Stock photos are not going to help customers know, like and trust you. Feel free to use them, but make sure they are the minority and that most images are personal to you.
Ensure you have the rights to use any images. It’s not good business karma to screenshot images you like. It’s also polite to credit and link back to the photographer, even if you are not required to do so. Pexels has a wide range of free stock photography that you can use commercially. If you are looking for something a little bit different from standard stock photography, check out Unsplash.com. If you are searching for images on Google Image, go to advanced search and choose the option for images that are free to use commercially. Even then, check to see if the image requires a photographer credit.
Great images are important to your business. Ensure they are well lit with a consistent style, whether you are taking them yourself, hiring a professional or using a brand rep. But this doesn’t mean you have to pretend to be perfect in all of your images. Sure, there are some gorgeous feeds out there that we’d all like to emulate, but showing that you are human will make people connect with you. You don’t have to air all your dirty laundry, but allowing people to see the real person behind the business can build trust.
For example, I heard marketer Jenna Kutcher on a podcast and she had some good ideas so I Googled her. At first she could have been another one of the million coaches that pop up on a my Facebook feed promising 6 figures in 6 minutes. These coaches always have perfectly curated Instagram feeds of them drinking stylish drinks on tropical beaches, yawn! I checked her out and I was pleasantly surprised to see that along with the beach pics and curated flatlays there were photos of her curvy body, where she talked about struggling with body confidence, and honest conversations about her baby loss. I scroll past 99% of the lead magnets on my Facebook feed, but not hers. In showing a little vulnerability she helped me connect with her, and I’m far more likely to become a client of hers than if I just saw how perfect her desk looks.
If you are interested in learning more about professional photography for your business, drop me a line and we can have a chat.