Whether you realize it or not, professional-looking photos are instrumental in your brand’s success, especially if you sell products (rather than services).
A well-taken photo of your product could affect a potential customer’s decision to buy it, while a blurry, bad photo could send them running to the competition.
And sometimes stock photos don’t cut it. If you can’t find an image to illustrate what you’re looking for, you might be looking for an alternative to what you find online.
Now, all that being said, you might think your only option is to hire a costly professional photographer. Not so.
You now have a highly sophisticated camera in your pocket: your smartphone. I recently bought a professional digital SLR camera.
While it certainly has some features that make photos look stunning and professional, you don’t need to shell out the money for a fancy camera.
Each new smartphone and tablet that comes out has a better and better camera than the last model.
With a few effective tips, you can take professional photos to use on your site and in your marketing.
1. Get to Know Your Camera
It’s impressive how sophisticated phone cameras are these days. Many of them take photos better than more expensive cameras.
It’s worth the time to get to know the features of your particular camera. Dedicate time to playing with different settings, adjusting light and contrast, and using various filters.
After taking several (even hundreds) of practice shots, you’ll land on settings that work best for what you want to do with your camera.
Bonus Tip: If you’re in the market for a new smartphone, read reviews specifically pertaining to their cameras to find what’s best for your needs.
2. Set Up Your Photo Environment
You've probably got products you need to take quality photos of. First consider what backdrop you want for them.
That might be a neutral background or something more creative like an old tree stump. If you can, set up a corner of a room that you can dedicate to your product photography.
This will help you ensure your photos are consistent in regards to lighting and setup.
Bonus Tip: Before you invest in costly photography lighting, try moving lamps around to get the intended effect.
A simple white sheet can be a great backdrop, too.
3. Practice, Practice, Practice
The neat thing about digital photos is that you don’t “waste” film. So take as many photos as you need to in order to get the shot you want.
Spend time taking photos without the pressure of getting certain results. Simply shoot, then look at the images on your computer so you can see them in more detail.
What looks good? What can you improve on?
Bonus Tip: It can’t hurt to get another opinion. Ask a friend or coworker to identify the best pictures of the lot. Use those to influence settings for future shots.
Related Article: 6 Out of the Box Marketing Ideas for 2015
4. Look into Apps to Make Your Photos Even Better
While your camera can take perfectly good photos as is, there are some pretty cool tools out there to enhance your results.
Look for editing apps like Photoshop Express that will let you make tweaks from your phone (though you can also edit once you upload the images to your computer).
Look for apps that have unique functionality, like Cycloramic, which lets you take 360 panoramic images.
And Instagram is a must for sharing your images to your social network fans.
Bonus Tip: Some apps make even a so-so photo look even better, so it’s worth a few dollars to find one that you use as your primary photo-taking tool.
5. Consider a Few Key Accessories
While you don’t need anything other than your phone to take great photos, you may want some accessories to play with.
There are many lens accessories that can help you really zoom in on your subject, like Moment Lens.
You might also try a mobile tripod to help you steady your phone like Gorillapod.
And you might benefit from investing in a lightbox to highlight your photos in a consistent way.
Bonus Tip: Invest in one affordable accessory that is most likely to improve your photos in some way. You can always makeshift a tripod or design your own lightbox if accessories aren’t in the budget.
6. Keep Your Audience in Mind
Beyond the technical details, you want to make sure you photograph your products in a flattering manner, and provide many perspectives of them so that your potential customers have all the information they need to make a decision about buying from you.
You can never have too many photos, so don’t stop after taking just one or two.
Bonus Tip: Look at websites selling similar products. What do you like about the photos? What could be improved? Use this knowledge to strategize for your own photos.
Even if you’re a one-man or one-woman operation, there’s no reason why your company’s photos can’t look like a million bucks.
It’s not necessary to hire a professional photographer, and with a little practice, you can get great results.
Whether or not you choose to invest in additional accessories and tools, your phone’s camera can do great things to enhance your marketing.