Virtually every company needs compelling imagery as a part of its marketing or advertising efforts. A client of Kahunify’s, that sells products both to consumers and businesses, was a newcomer to social media and struggled with how to have enough good photos. The advice I gave them was the basis of this post!

Need people in your photos?

  • Ask staff/friends/family to be photo “models”
  • Hold a sweepstakes of a Visa/MasterCard gift card for anyone who shows up to be a photo model on a certain day – could easily be advertised with a boosted Facebook post.
  • Hire models – search Craigslist or post a job listing. Could be as low as $10-15 an hour.
  • Approach shoppers if they are willing to be photographed then and there, and hand them a gift card in return ($5-10).
  • Identify your happiest customers and ask them if they are willing to be photographed.
  • Alternative: if someone doesn’t want a photo taken of their face, you could take a photo of just their torso/hands, or perhaps use focus or photo editing to ensure their face is blurry.

Photo ideas that don’t involve people

  • Take photos of the products with no people involved.
  • For more variety, take detail shots of the products.
  • Are there manufacturers’/suppliers’ photos you can use for free?
  • Stock photos (I like depositphotos.com – it’s where I got the image for this and many other blog posts)
  • Online photos – be careful about ownership, but there are a lot of options:
    • Memes are pretty much fair game. Steer clear of controversial topics, and, like Warren Buffett’s investing strategy, don’t bother with things you don’t understand. At right, here’s an example of a cute one I posted for my day spa client Spaah. The owners love pets, and the brand has a lighthearted voice, so I post alternating cat and dog memes on Fridays, and they’re always a hit!
    • Images of interesting, relevant quotes, easily found online. These often have watermarks on them, but leave them for credit.
    • Repost others’ photos, giving them full credit. This is easy on Instagram with the app Repost (if the person’s account is public).

General Photography Tips

With just a little effort, I think anyone can take good photos with their smartphone! Here are a few tips:

Composition

How many basketball players don’t pause at all when at the free throw line – just receive the ball from the ref and shoot? None.

They all pause, or take a breath, or have a little routine to help focus before taking the shot. Likewise, don’t just snap a photo willy nilly. Take a moment to line it up, get level with the horizon, and focus on composition.

What is composition? More than just the subject, or focus of the image, composition is how all the visual elements are placed. There can be a lot of meaning and interest behind composition. Sure, placing your subject in the center can be effective, but what about thinking outside the box?

First off, the rule of thirds helps images be more dynamic and appealing to the eye. Make sure your grid lines are turned on your smartphone’s camera – they will help a lot! Symmetrical shots looks great because they’re balanced, while interesting angles move the eye. Or, for a shot that’s, well, edgy, put your subject close the edge. Especially for smaller subjects, this tactic can be very compelling. Here are some examples by great Instagrammers:

Didn’t nail it when you took the photo? The dirty secret behind a lot of jaw-dropping photos is enhancement. Beyond Instagram’s filters and basic tools, there are many apps that make photo editing easy. My favorite is Snapseed, available for both iPhone and Android.

Lighting

Lighting can make or break an image. It can be tough to balance – if the light source is behind subjects, you might end up with silhouettes of your subjects. If the lighting is too bright (fluorescent or sunshine), you might end up with washed out or squinting subjects. If it’s too dark, subjects will be hard to see, or the photo might turn out grainy.

Taking outdoor photos? Wait for the right weather and timing. Sunny is going to be cheerier with more contrast, while cloudy is a favorite of wedding photographers because the lighting is softer and the subjects don’t have to squint. But avoid too much gloominess, as well as wind, which can blow subjects’ hair around too much. The prettiest lighting is during “the golden hour,” the windows of time right around sunrise or sunset.

Need a Pro?

Even with a smartphone and good photography skills, sometimes those can only take you so far. Especially for print materials, turn to the pros.

  • Hire a professional photographer.
  • Hire an enthusiast photographer, like your niece who shows great photography skills on Instagram.
  • Certain kinds of businesses might benefit from drone photography.

Need help with imagery and content for your company’s marketing efforts?

Need Photo Ideas for your Social Media or Advertising?
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