STRAIGHT FROM THE EXPERTS: Do It Yourself Photography, Make Your Business Shine in Front of the Camera!
Celebrity, fashion, and corporate photographer Duffy-Marie Arnoult gives you the low down on taking pro photos of your business!
I can’t tell you how many times I have seen a great business represented by mediocre images. Whether we like to admit it or not, we are a visual society and a bad photo can influence a potential customer to go elsewhere. Here are a few tricks to make sure this does not happen to you.
1) STAGE YOUR BUSINESS: If you need to take a photo of your storefront, make sure the exterior is looking its best. Clean windows and no trash or distracting elements on the ground. You want the focus to be on your signage and welcoming storefront.
2) LIGHTING: Try to take the photo during a time of day where the light is even and bright. You usually do not want noonday sun because the shadows can be very harsh and the light is too bright. Either early morning or late afternoon sun is best. A nice warm light always adds life to a photo, instead of a cold, shadier tone. I personally love the late afternoon light, usually sometime between 4-6:30pm. Watch out for sidelight that can cause distracting shadows and take away from the focus of your signage.
3) TAKE A LOT OF PHOTOS: Take the main shot you are looking for but try some different angles. You might surprise yourself and come up with something creative and fun that will draw your customers in.
4) EDITING YOUR PHOTOS: Once you have your photos, do not upload them directly to your website or yelp without retouching. You may think retouching is extremely complicated and takes expensive professional software. This is a big mistake many people make. There are a few simple things you can do that can take a photo from mediocre to outstanding.
a. FREE ONLINE EDITING SOFTWARE: You don’t need Photoshop to edit your images like a pro you can use Aviary instead they have two photo editing tool one for simple adjustments http://www.aviary.com/tools/feather and one that gives you all the advanced features of Photoshop http://www.aviary.com/tools/image-editor
b. CROPPING: Make sure you crop out any distracting elements from the edges of the photos. Try to crop the image so that the important element is centered (ex: a plate of food or signage)
c. COLOR CORRECTING: You might need to go into levels to raise the highlights of the image and possibly darken the blacks to make more contrast. This will make your image more dynamic. You can do all of these steps in Aviary’s Feather Tool use the contrast, color, and saturation buttons. Move the slider up and down until the image looks vibrant and clear. You do not want a flat image with muddled colors. You can also go into selective color and lessen the amount of one color. If your photo has a red cast to it, you can always go into the Red channel and add more blue or take the red out of the blacks. You can tell that your image is ready when the white in photo is a true white and the grey is a true grey.
5) BLACK and WHITE: Sometimes, your subject matter might have a lot of clashing colors or patterns and it might be best to go with a black and white photo. This is obviously a subjective choice.
6) FLASH vs NATURAL LIGHT: I highly recommend using natural light as much as you can. Flash will brighten a photo, but unless you really know how to manipulate the light, you will end up with harsh lighting and shadows. Natural light and ambient light is much softer and beautiful.
7) FOOD and PRODUCT: A lot of my previous advice applies here. Make sure your food is fresh and not wilted. Watch out for reflective surfaces on your products. You want the light to be soft so that the focus is your product and not a distracting glare. Product and food always looks better with a clean background so take these shots on a table with nothing else
8) UPLOADING PHOTOS: Upload your photos to Yelp, Google Places, Flickr, and Facebook. This is the best way to promote your business. Before you upload use JPEG Mini to reduce the size of your photos without destroying the quality.
You might think all of this is overkill, but I promise you it is not. It is critical to have top-notch images out there representing your brand and product. Once you have these dynamic photos for your business, it is imperative that you get them out there. People make their decisions on product quality, but until they are actually at your door, more times than most, they are going to decide based on the quality of the images they see representing your business. If you have sub-par photos or no photos at all, chances are you will be overlooked. I suggest researching photos and websites of your competition and see what they have done. Make sure that your photos represent who you are and what your company stands for. With these tools you are ready to go out there and start capturing the unique and colorful character of your business!
By: Duffy-Marie Arnoult, DMA PHOTOS