If you're involved in marketing your business, you know that visuals matter.
Pictures benefit blog posts, your website, social media posts, and email marketing, to name only a few of the areas that are made better — and more effective — from the right snapshots.
Pictures serve a few purposes. They can:
- Help readers understand the subject matter quickly
- Influence a mood or emotion
- Allow readers to skim through content without losing value
- Maintain reader interest by changing up the medium
- Reflect a brand's style
- Communicate complex concepts
- Effectively highlight the benefits of a product, service, or culture
Yea, they do all that and more.
And while many types of pictures are best left to the professionals, most marketers and business owners today have the unique opportunity to capture their business, brand, and events in their own hands! That's right, you don't have to run a headshot studio (or your pet's wildly successful 100k+-follower Instagram account) to make good pictures that you and your marketing team can use to make your business boom.
And, yes, I wrote "make good pictures." Photographers like to say that they make pictures instead of taking them because it takes a bit of preparation to create something valuable. Great pics aren't there for the taking—they require some insider skills. The thing is, you don't always have to drop a pretty penny to make a good picture great.
Whether you're already dabbling in photos for social media and you'd like to improve their quality, or you reserve the photos section of your phone for kids and pets, there are a few simple steps to putting the power of pictures in your (and your business') hands.
We rounded up a few tips from the team and our professional peers that know best on how to make good marketing pics easy-peasy. Ready to Level Up your photography skills?
5 Steps to Taking Better Pictures for Your Business
1. Check your phone model.
Are you using the right phone? You'll get the best photographic results with devices that have a minimum 12 MP camera. With today's technology, phone pictures look practically pro! They'll be clearer and high enough quality to be used on website pages or in emails without getting blurry or distorting details.
Even better, new models have features you will love experimenting with, like burst mode for multiple pictures or action shots, portrait mode, camera grids, High Dynamic Range (HDR) mode, and focus and exposure settings.
Pro iPhone Photo Tip ➡️ Use the volume buttons to snap the photo once you're in the phone app.
That's all you need for now. If you start getting into it, you may want to invest in some affordable extra equipment like a mini-tripod, a reflector, a ring light, or special lenses, but you might find that your phone alone will do.
2. Decide what to shoot.
Taking pictures for business isn't about sunsets and smiling group pictures, although those certainly have their time and place. Typically, the ways in which those cliché Insta-worthy pictures can be used is limited when it comes to the value it offers your business.
Okay, so when exactly should you lift the lens and act like a shutterbug?
Your subject matter depends on your business and your goals. If you want to share your company culture, you'll want to make sure that you snap some pics at the company retreat (humble brag, check out our Instagram account), or snaps from your involvement in the community. If you want to highlight your commitment to up-skilling and commitment to clients, share pictures from networking events, conferences, trade shows, or client visits (with their approval, of course).
Some companies do well with props, like Hootsuite. Their Instagram account often features their wide-eyed mascot, Owly. He makes sure that the company shenanigans stay on-brand.
An Analytics Tidbit ➡️ For social media posts and featured photos, pictures with people and faces get more engagement than those without.
But cute animals and mascots are good, too.
Have your business or your products been featured in the public space? That's something to be proud of, and recording it with quality photos will give you value content to use in multiple ways.
3. Think about how to shoot it.
Heard of framing or the rule of thirds? Visual interest can be created through lack of symmetry, and will increase the quality of the images you shoot.
If you divide an image into three sections vertically and horizontally, you want your subject matter to fall at the intersection of the four lines to maximize visual appeal.
This photo from GE's account wouldn't be as effective if the subject was centered. Our focus is the technician, but also the space around him and the precarious position he's in.
Try filling the frame, or using lots of negative space. Each will focus on the subject in different ways.
Play with depth of field, focus, and details to draw the eye to exactly what you want it to see.
You may decide that for a certain social media account, you'll pick one perspective that lends itself best to your brand. Other companies find mixing up their feed successful and more interesting to their viewers. Look into what works for competitors, but always look for ways to differentiate and stay true to your brand aesthetic. The most important thing here is to stay consistent.
4. Light the way.
In most cases, your subject should face the light for image clarity. You don't want anyone to have to squint at a dark, underexposed picture and wonder what it is they're looking at. Those are the absolute worst! Do everyone a favor and make sure your photos are lit from the front (unless you're getting artistic). If you're the photographer, the sun or strongest light source should be at your back.
When using an iPhone, try this tip: tap and hold an area on your screen when the lighting and focus are perfect, until the yellow AE/AF letters appear. The settings will lock for the picture instead of zooming in and out of focus as you take the photo, and the lighting won't change on you if a cloud covers the sun.
If you're looking for a more moody or dynamic effect, allow one side of the face or subject to be shaded.
Shooting in indoor spaces can be tricky, but finding the light source first will save you. Airbnb features many of their indoor spaces on Instagram, but by paying attention to light sources, they always post pics that are bright and inviting.
Selfie Tip ➡️ There's no shame in a work-relevant selfie. But make sure to lift the camera high. Shooting from above or at eye-level is usually more flattering. This minimizes sneaky shadows in unwanted places on your face by helping you face the light.
Snapped something you love, but it looks dark and muddy? Try editing the lighting in your photo by increasing shadow brightness, increasing black point, or increasing color saturation—all of which are adjustable settings available in the iPhone Photos app.
5. Be different.
Remember what defines a good picture: it's recognizable, it's compelling, it's interesting, and it's unusual. The most valuable images illicit an emotion, communicate appeal to a certain audience's interests or sensibilities, and/or show something unique about your business.
Using original photos instead of stock photos will add real value to each asset because they'll be genuine and specific to your business and audience.
Mailchimp is known for their quirky style and unexpected approach.
IBM's photos are more product-first, but also with perspective and use-case context in mind. Their imagery is playful and compelling while showing their ingenuity at work.
These basic principals can definitely be used for awesome vacation photos, foodie pics, and impressive images of your day-to-day, but why not put a dollar value on your new skills to improve your social media feed engagement, personalize your emails, and immortalize the events you've already invested in so heavily.
Because, let us let you in on a not-so-little secret: Everything Is Content. As long as you put in a little thought before releasing the shutter.
Tired of fiddling with your phone and scratching your head over your social media feed?
We have a team for that.
Prefer to chat? Hit the button to get started:
P.S. Do you swipe up on your iPhone lock screen to access the photo app? You do? Okay, just checking. That way you're always ready to make a photo when the light is just right.
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