Photography for Your Business: A DIY Guide

Welcome to the second of our two-part feature on media for business, which follows up our previous blog post looking at media you can use for your business projects and marketing, (part 1 here: {filedir_8}blog/media-you-can-use-a-guide-on-how-to-utilise-media-for-your-projects-and-mar/).

This post focuses specifically on photography you can use in your business projects and marketing. Pictures can create a positive and engaging feel to your business posts and presentations, photographs can demystify what your business does, and create an insight into you and your products or services.

 

Do I Still Need A Pro?

Some situations will still require a professional photographer, for instance - shots where you have to rely on enticing the audience. Examples can include food shots for an advert or menu; property and room shots if you run a hospitality business; modelling shots if you run a clothing or accessories business; or any other instance where the image has to stand out and be of the highest quality in order to win you business.

For these occasions, remember that photographers usually have their own subtle styles and specialities, so always check out their portfolios and decide on which photographer would be right for you before you decide.

But do you always need to pay a photographer to obtain pictures your business? Not necessarily.

DIY?

Taking photos yourself give you full copyright control - meaning unlimited and unrestricted use. So if you don’t currently have the funds to hire a professional photographer for social media, website or marketing images your business will need, or if you need some interim pictures until you can afford a profesional, here are a few tips on how you can take photos, and get them looking as professional as possible.

 

1. Check Your Lighting

Lighting is best for photography when it’s even, especially over your subject. We’ve all seen photos of people with half of their face bright, and the other side shrouded in shadow. This is a sure-fire way to make your photos look like quick snapshots, taken without due care and attention.

If possible, move the subject to an area of even lighting to minimise harsh shadows. A ‘reflector’ can also be used to bounce light onto darker parts of the scene. A large sheet of white paper can give a good soft even spread for this purpose.

Remember, a little shadow will always appear, but unless we’re going for hardcore art photos, it’s best to stay away from the heavy shadows.


2. Get Framing

Frame a picture, (not literally with a frame!)

Along with lighting, this is a key factor in making a photo look professional. Dead centre in most cases is a dead no-no. Snap like the pros, and use what they call the ‘rule of thirds’.

Split the photo scene into 3 equal segments both vertically and horizontally, like in the images below. Where the lines separate each segment is where you want to position the focal points of your photo.

If it is a nice landscape, you want the horizon to be on the lower line or the upper line based if you want to show more sky or foreground. Sitting the horizon across the centre makes the image look flatter and have less ‘pop’. If there is a particular focal point in the foreground, move the camera so that is on one of the two vertical lines.

  

 

 

 

 

 

The ‘thirds’ lines highlight the positioning of the focus points –in the image on the left it is the swan and the White line on the boat. In the image on the right, it is the curve of the track.

 

3. Focus and focal point

This is an important aspect of taking professional looking photographs for your business as this draws the eye into the photograph. A photo with no particular focal point can often cause the image to look empty and confusing and will not give a centre to draw the viewer to.

Notice how the white stripe on the boat and the white swan both stand out in the photo above, forming a focal point.

An exception to the rule of thirds is ‘product shots’. These are photographs of a certain item to engage customers. In this case, the photo must be bright, central and take up a significant amount of the frame.

Also, it is always better to have a subject coming into the photograph than going out of it - a photo where someone is about to walk out the edge always looks more awkward, and like a casual snapshot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bird in the left photo is facing out of the picture, giving a sense of awkwardness, whereas the image on the right is a lot more balanced with the bird facing in.

 


4. Check What’s Behind You

The background can make or break a photo. If the background is not a focal point of the photo, then ensure that it is not overbearing or distracts from the subject.

Distractions can include hustle and bustle behind the subject, a harsh shadow cast right across a part of the photo, or bits and pieces of items or people clipped in the edges of the photo. If you can’t get away from the clutter, and if your camera allows it, then you can widen the aperture (the width of the opening that light comes into the lens). This will blur the background out and take the focus off it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the picture on the left, note how the cluttered background of buildings swamps and detracts the main point of interest which is the boats. In the photo on the left, the background is blurred out, meaning that the focal point of the statue’s face stands out.

However, if your background is also a focal point with another subject in front of it (think- standing in front of a landmark), then it’s time to roll out the ‘rule of thirds’ again, like you can see in the swan and ship photo above.

 

5. Be Aware of your Subject

In commercial and public media, you may not photograph another person’s belongings or brand trademarks without their written consent. If this is necessary, you should ask the appropriate representative to sign a ‘release’, which states you have permission to photograph that subject.

This can include anything that is recognisable as being of a particular brand. You will also need a release for anyone who is photographed, who was not intended to be part of the shoot, such as passers by. Most pro photographers will have everyone photographed sign a release, including the models and subjects to ensure that they are always nice and legally compliant.

The golden rule is- if someone can recognise themselves or their brand/ product in the photo- then you need a release. File it, put it somewhere safe, scan it into a computer – but you must have one.

Releases are legally binding documents, so do not just have someone scribble their name on a piece of paper, or try to make one yourself. It needs to be robust and feature all necessary legal information and clauses. If you would like a blank release so you can keep some handy, just get in touch with your Business Adviser.

 

Get Snapping

Remember that pictures paint a thousand words and can do wonders to brighten every aspect of your business, so the final tip is to get out there and get snapping!

If you need any further assistance or information, then don’t hesitate to get in touch and speak to an advisor.

Business Gateway Tayside:
01382 443 400
Business Gateway Tayside Facebook

Business Gateway Aberdeen City & Shire:
01224 289 000
Business Gateway Aberdeen City and Shire Facebook

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