I am constantly saying that great photography is possibly your number one weapon when it comes to small business, especially if a lot of your marketing and promotion happens online. So many businesses rely on Instagram to reach their audience and it is ALL about images, so they have to be great if you want to grab people’s attention, and whether your business is product or service based, your images will not only show what you offer, but tell the story of your brand.
Back in March last year, 91 photographer Jemma Watts hosted a Creative Session for us all about photography for small business covering lots of technical aspects of photography, including how to manipulate natural light, depth of field and composition. There is a lot to learn, but to give you a little taster, Jemma has shared five of her top tips below to get your started. If you are interested in taking the full workshop it is still available as a replay for just £39, so do pop to the Creative Sessions page to find it and many other useful small business workshops.
Jemma highly recommends you invest in a DSLR camera or a compact system camera if you are serious about shooting great images for your brand, but many of the tips below (and in her Creative Session) are also relevant if you are using your mobile phone camera…
TIP 1: Choose the right lens
If you are baffled by camera lenses, the best one to buy for product and still life photography is a 50mm lens. It is the closest perspective to our natural eye and therefore does not distort the subject matter. Wide angle lenses and zoom lenses for example are suitable in certain scenarios, but generally will distort your image and subject matter to a certain degree.
TIP 2: Consider your background
Often you will want to shoot your products on a plain background or as a still life. Many magazines require product shots on a plain white background for shopping pages, although they will also like lifestyle shots for other types of features, so it’s ideal to have both. When shooting your product on a plain background – this could be plain white, coloured or textured – get a large piece of card or paper and place it on a table against a wall, then curve the paper up and fix it to the back wall. This will create a smooth, seamless surface for the product.
TIP 3: Find the best light
The best light for photographing indoors is next to a north facing window. You DO NOT need to buy artificial lights for shooting inside, you can use natural daylight for all your photography. Light from a north facing window means you will not have harsh shadows on your subject and you will achieve a softer, more even light. Of course, if you would like harsh shadows when creating a particular effect that is a different story, rules are made to be broken sometimes! 🙂
TIP 4: Think about the perspective
When composing your shot, always choose the best perspective for your subject – you have a choice between straight on, angled or from above. The key thing to remember here is that shooting from above will flatten your subject matter – so, think about whether this angle is suitable for the objects you are photographing – for example, don’t shoot bottles from overhead!
The standard lens on a mobile phone is set to a wide angle and can distort the natural perspective of your subject matter. But mobile phones are pretty good for shooting those overhead or flat-lay shots.
TIP 5: Gather inspiration before your shoot
Before you style and take your pictures, make sure to plan your shoot by researching and getting inspiration from places such as Pinterest and magazines. I will often pull together a mood board before a shoot, to be clear on how I will compose each shot and to be sure there is consistency across the style through the use of colour, props, backgrounds etc.
If you want more help on how to improve your photography – which will truly make a difference to your business – then take a look at Jemma’s Creative Session here: PHOTOGRAPHY FOR SMALL BUSINESS, along with lots of other online workshops for small business owners.
For more small business tips, check out these previous posts:
How to gain press for your small business, with 91 editor Caroline Rowland
How to grow and monetise your Instagram with Nancy Straughan
or you can watch the short videos on our IGTV.