Having crappy photographs kills your credibility. It's also not too hard to get decent photographs super cheap.
People will judge how credible your company is within 3 seconds of seeing your website. Often they leave your site before they scroll passed the first image. So the first image that loads should look pretty fantastic. It should also clearly communicate what your company does and what your product or service is. Does your splash image (first visible area that loads) make people run away? Bad photography is a sore-sight that sticks out to even the least experience instagrammer. Since customers want to know that your site is worth their time, your photography is extremely important. I repeat, extremely important.
I went over other ways that your site can look not-so-professional in the white spacing article as well, if you missed it.
If you're just starting a wellness oriented business, don't look at other similar-sized businesses for an example of how to present your product of service. They probably haven't invested in a branding consultant or designer. They are in a situation that's similar to yours– trying to make it work on a tight budget with little direction.
Here, I'll show you how to look like a more established health brand (think Gaiam).
Also, your instagram game will get better too.
Hacking Professional Quality Photography
What you learn here will bump your photos up from a 2/10 to a 7/10. Taking a photo that's a 10/10 will cost you exponentially more time (or money) than it took to get from a 2 to a 7.
Think of it like this– you can learn to run a 5 minute mile in 1 month of training, but it will take you 2 years of training to run a 4 minute mile.
Lighting, Lighting, Lighting (Lighting)
Don't even try to take product photos in a dim room. Don't do it. I'll be waiting in the shadows– angry and armed.
That's a little too intense.
Anyway, an absolutely crucial part of your photography is lighting. How do you light things well? It's actually pretty simple. Get a butt load of lights, and put them near your subject.
Here is a guide to lighting your subject, whatever it is.
The gist of this guide is that you'll need to;
- Sunlight is your best friend. Set up next to a window or go outside.
- Put a light directly on your subject from an angle that reveals the most important parts of your product
- Put a second light on the other side of your subject so that the other side of your subject isn't too dark.
- Light the back of your subject at a near-complimentary angle so that light bends around the ends of your subject.
- Light the background a lot. It will make your background appear to be one-color. It also can make it look like it's in a warm (and possibly magical) space if you mess with it a bit.
You can spend only $50 and have a professional quality lighting kit. This is easily the most crucial part of your photography, and is a relatively tiny investment compared to paying for a professional photographer.
What kind of lights, you ask?
Lights that aren't yellow. Lights that aren't blue. Start with your desk lamp, if the light that it gives looks too warm (orange), then get a Full Spectrum bulb set. These bulbs give a more sun-like light, which is the best for photography.
The kit I mentioned above contains three of these perfect bulbs.
Get that complete lighting kit here. It's a shortcut to good photos that I wish I was told about earlier.
Here is an image of the setup to make it easier to understand.
Putting your Product/Subject on a White Background
If you want your product to be on a white background, you'll need one of two things; a Light Box or a huge white sheet/backdrop and a stand for it.
The Light Box is a heavily lighted 2ft x 2ft box that you put your product in for photographs. This is the cheapest way to put your product on a white background professionally. It'll cost you around $25.
Get a Light Box here.
The white backdrop on a stand gives you much more flexibility with an added cost. It will let you photograph larger items that are up to 7ft tall. It can cost you about $80.
Get a white backdrop with a stand here.
Creating the Blurry Background Effect
You know those cool looking photos– the ones with the blurry background and super detailed subject. They rule, and people seem to really like them. My instagram feed taught me that.
Part of the reason that people like this is due to the resemblance to the way the eye sees things. When we focus on something super close to our faces, the background seems to fade away and blur. Try staring out into the distance and then moving your pointer finger into view about 9 inches from your eyes. It's a fun exercise for your eyes too.
It also makes for a clearly established main subject. You're not focusing on the blurry scenery, you're focusing on the only thing in focus– the main subject.
Creating the blurred background effect is a cheap way to make your photo feel real and give it depth, so let me show you how to do it.
You can do this on your smartphone. Yes, your phone. You can take fantastic photos on your phone if you have good lighting. It's in dim lighting that your phone's pictures suffer.
A DSLR camera is objectively better for photography, and it will cost you around $600.
Simply move an object about 9-18 inches from your phone and tap on it. This will set the focus on your object. Make sure that the background objects/scenery is at least 3 feet away to get the maximum effect. The further away, the more blurred it will be. If you're using a DSLR, simply adjust the focus until ONLY your main object is in focus.
So your background is blurry. You're 3/4ths of the way there. The next step is to adjust the exposure(in your image on your phone) so that it's optimal for your main subject.
Setting the Exposure (light vs. dark) on your Camera/PhoneOn the iPhone, tap the object again. Notice the little sun icon on the line? That's the exposure meter. Once you see this, swipe up or down until the light is perfect. Make sure nothing is stark white or stark black.
To lock the focus and exposure simply hold your finger down on the subject after you get your settings right.Now you can move the phone back and forth and play around until you find something perfect.
The last step: Go out and try it, and let me know how it went.
Tell me how well it worked for you.
If anything was unclear, let me know, and I will make sense of it. Though I'm pretty sure that you're going to like taking photos a bit more now 🙂
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