Running a business is stressful enough, but having to photograph your own products / services can seem extremely over whelming. Most people don’t know where to start and use their cell phones as a camera. Although it is convenient, phone cameras do not produce true, high-resolution photography. Photos taken with your phone are acceptable for social media digital marketing, but the quality would not be something suitable to use for print or on your website.

Here are a few tips to help improve your portfolio of photos without spending a fortune…

  • Buy a DSLR cameras or SLR camera. These are cameras that let you have more control over your settings for significantly improved photography over phones or “point and shoot” cameras. It is a very good idea to have one of these cameras if you plan to create a portfolio of your work.
  • Research camera lenses for your needs. There are a lot of different types, but just focus on getting what you need to shoot for your work. For example, if you need to do a lot of close up (macro) shooting, then buying a decent macro lens would be a worthwhile investment.
  • Always shoot in the largest format your camera allows, such as a Large JPEG or RAW+JPEG. This way you always have high quality photos for web and for print. It is better to have the high quality and save them, than is it to not have them when you really need them.
  • Landscape format (horizontal) generally works better for web layouts. It’s OK to include some portrait style (vertical), but make sure you take a landscape style of the same item also. You always want to have options for your photos from different angles and distances too. These options can help when choosing shots for the square format view on platforms like Instagram.
  • Ensure the photos are level as you can get them; diagonal shots don’t work as well in web galleries. Tripods can help in this area. It always helps to have a tripod; especially for video!
  • If you take a fish eye photo, also take a regular style photo. Fish eye pictures are best for Instagram and Pinterest, but the regular style is best for website/print use. Your portfolio should be clear and easy to see your product.
  • If your business has an opportunity for “Before & After” shots, make sure to take the photos every time! People love to see the effect of the service they are going to be paying for. When taking before/after photos, it helps to shoot from the same angles and areas for the before and the after. Using a solid backdrop if applicable, using similar lighting (or time of day if outdoors), and standing the same distance from the subject is also helpful for these types of shots.
  • Lighting is VERY important for good photography. There are plenty of diagrams for lighting for whichever purpose you need. Utilize the internet to find lighting tips for indoor and outdoor settings. Most importantly, ensure there is enough light, but nothing too strong from only one source, like direct sun pouring through a fully open window makes it hard to balance the rest of a room.
  • Always adjust your white balance on your camera before a photoshoot. It will help you get a “truer” color of your product. Most people do not do this and it can lead to inaccurate photography. Most digital cameras have adjustments for different settings, you can always use the internet to find how to adjust your camera.
  • If photos from a high quality digital camera are coming out grainy, the camera likely has a high light exposure setting, or ISO. An ISO of 200 or lower is preferred, because higher ISOs make the photos have a lot of pixilation and noise.
  • Once the camera and lighting items are set, don’t forget to set the stage. Remove any non-decorative items from the shoot area, including cell phones, water bottles, camera bags, etc.
  • Make sure you have time to play with your camera. Take fun photos and mess around with settings. Getting more comfortable with it, will help you understand how to use it in the future.

Cameras are just devices to help you, don’t be intimidated. It is something you can learn to better your business and social media platforms. Camera settings are one thing in life where reading the manual can actually be beneficial. Here is a basic settings overview for most cameras  to help get you started. You may find you really enjoy it, and good quality photos can definitely help your sales!

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