8 Ways to Improve Your Images and Create Content for Websites and Social Media
Instagram. Your e-commerce site. Pinterest. Facebook. Today’s most popular marketing methods are image hungry, demanding an endless stream of photos to catch consumers’ attention.
You can rely on manufacturers to provide much of the imagery you need for website product pages and you might have a budget to spring occasionally for professional photos of your brick-and-mortar locations, but for a regular supply of new images, you’ll need to shoot your own photos, too.
Here are eight tips for taking better photos that will put your business in the best light:
- Invest in a tripod. Tripods are inexpensive — decent models for smartphones can be bought for less than $50; sometimes less than $25 — and are worth it to eliminate out-of-focus shots caused by shaky hands. Tripods also make it easier to compose shots for products or your showroom floor.
- Aim for consistency. Your photos are part of your overall brand and should have a similar look and feel in terms of lighting, background, composition, etc.
- Give your subjects space. Unless you’re specifically shooting close-ups, be sure to include plenty of background around your subjects, advises Pixel Union, a provider of e-commerce solutions for businesses based in Victoria, Canada, in a March 2018 blog post. This allows you to crop photos to fit the required aspect ratios of various social media platforms or switch an image’s orientation from horizontal to vertical and vice versa. A bit of background also keeps your photos from feeling claustrophobic.
- Focus on the product. If you’re supplementing product images you’ve received from manufacturers with your own photography, aim for crisp, clean images of individual items on a white background (or silhouetted with no background) to keep the focus on the item. Shoot products from several angles and take plenty of close-ups so consumers can see textures, features and other details.
- Consider the lighting. “Lighting is key to creating a successful product image. It determines darkness and brightness and establishes the tone, atmosphere and mood of a photograph,” Pixel Union says. “To highlight the textures, colors and luminosity of the image’s subject (your product), you need to be conscious of and able to manipulate lighting accordingly.” Natural lighting often works fine. If corners of your store are darker, you can supplement with lights — or use that tripod, which will allow you to take crisp images in low light.
- Be spontaneous. Take photos of customers rest-testing— with their permission, of course. Snap retail sales associates goofing off around the store. Bring your camera out during big sales and charitable events. The idea is to take photos often to give you lots of choices and fresh images for social feeds. You can borrow a prompt from those popular challenges you see on social media, for instance, taking at least one photo every day or shooting extreme close-ups and asking your followers to guess what the subject is.
- Edit. “Photo editing is an important step in making sure your images are consistent and all of your product photos are cohesive. There are so many things you can do to improve or correct an image. Most computers or cameras come with free editing software. Even Photoshop can be affordable with a subscription,” Pixel Union says. In a blog for BigCommerce, an Austin, Texas-based provider of e-commerce software for businesses, Rachel Jacobs recommends four free tools for editing images: Pixlr (“free and has a lot of the functionality of Photoshop”), Canva (“user-friendly free online editor best suited for marketing materials”); Fotor (“free, easy-to-use smartphone app”) and Snapseed (“powerful, fully featured mobile app that is also free”). Just don’t go overboard with filters or other special effects.
- Don’t forget search engine optimization. And as a final step, make sure your photos do their part to boost your business and products in searches by making sure “you name your images correctly, including as much relevant metadata and keywords as possible,” Jacobs says. “This additional detail helps search engines understand what is in the image, helping to improve your ranking.”
Julie A. Palm is chief wordsmith at Palm Ink LLC in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She has 25 years of experience as a writer and editor for newspapers and magazines and as a publications director. She is a past editor in chief of both Sleep Savvy and BedTimes magazines. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.