Most people take lousy photos!

Photography costsLet me elaborate on that statement – the images themselves might be great for Facebook sharing and for giving friends a ‘feel‘ for something that has happened in your life, but as a ‘good photograph’ … no!

The problem is that lots of business owners think that their camera-phone or their point-and-shoot digital camera snaps are just the thing for sending to the printer or the magazine in order to promote their business venture. But they’d be wrong. The lighting, the exposure, the background, the image size may all be factors in getting your audience to look at the picture and have a ‘ho-hum’ reaction instead of the ‘WOW‘ that you’re after.

For things like brochures, business cards, advertising spreads, and pamphlets, print media is unforgiving if the image is not just right – you could end up with blurred lines, pixellations and badly composed images that don’t give the right impression to your audience.

And your website? Doesn’t this present an even greater need to portray excellence and quality owing to the fact that a website or social media page is much more visible today than print media used to be because more people are using the internet instead of print.

So why aren’t you using a professional photographer to take the images you want the public to see? What images are you using that illustrate just how good your business or product looks? Are they camera-phone snaps?

“Cost!” would be the usual answer … “a professional is too expensive.” The counter to that argument would be, what cost is mediocrity?

A carefully planned and budgeted-for professional photo shoot is an investment in your business that will last for years. A bank of stunning images can be drawn on over the years to keep your website content fresh and dynamic. Professional images can be sent with confidence to printers for crystal clear representations on your brochures and pamphlets.

And professionally posed and shot images will send the message out that your business is top class and best quality. That is not to say that the camera phone snaps must never be used – of course they are valuable for the day-to-day social media sharing and keeping some things current. However they are the by-product illustrations of your business, not the ultimate showcase.

You might be surprised at the good value a professional actually is able to deliver – remember, “goedkoop is duurkoop!” 

(Afterthought: you go to a professional doctor, dentist, optician, plumber or electrician don’t you?)

Working towards better photographs …

Rule of thirdsAs the holiday season draws nearer and more folk are probably going to enjoy some kind of break or time off, it is highly likely that we’re going to see all types of holiday snaps on the various social media like Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter. With so many mobile phones now able to take photos, I thought it might be a good time to suggest a few tips towards better images. These are general hints for the quick point-and-shoot type camera.

  1. Use the rule of thirds – in your mind’s eye, divide your viewfinder into thirds across and vertically so you have 9 blocks. Position your subject into one of the thirds (or on the cross-hairs) as a way of making a more interesting composition instead of putting it exactly in the middle.
  2. Move around your subject (if you can) so you cut out the “messy” background – you might have a wonderful subject but something in the background that will spoil the picture, like a car, or a street sign or a carport. Moving around might get you a better background that won’t distract from your subject.
  3. Don’t let shadows fall onto a face – rather take the portrait in full sun or in shade instead of under a tree with shadows making lines across the face.
  4. Watch the back-light – too much light behind the subject could make them very dark. A typical example is taking a picture of someone sitting at a table in a restaurant with a beautiful sea view behind them. The chances are you’ll get a wonderful shot of the sea and a dark blob where your friend is. Try taking the same picture by using a flash to light the face, or if that doesn’t work, borrow a silver tray from the waiter and get them to hold it at an angle and reflect some light onto their face.
  5. Where you can – use a tripod to get stability for your shot.

Watch for the next lot of tips for taking better photos. Practice as much as you can and don’t be afraid to delete. With digital images, you can afford to take a lot and then have the luxury of selecting only the best. Ditch the rest – you’ll take much better ones the next time! Gary Player said that the more he practised, the luckier he got. Photography is no different. The lucky shot will come – just keep practising!