Take that picture. A challenge.

Jonas Leupe from unsplash.com

In a previous blog I was quite emphatic about how the images on your website look, going so far as to say that you cannot upload self made images. That you really do need to have professionally taken images for you web page. I stand by that, but, lets be honest, most small businesses cannot afford to have new images taken for each upload.

So, here I am going to attempt to give you some guidelines so that you can get really pleasing results for future images.

First up: Which camera?
Most of us use our cell phones for taking images, that’s fine for your personal social media, but, many mobile cameras aren’t really up to pics on your website. Think the difference in size of someone looking at you web on their mobile (might be ok quality) their tablet or large format laptop/monitor which definitely will not stack up well, unless of course you have an all bells and whistle mobile phone with fantastic camera. My old Huawei was fabulous!!! Do you have a decent quality point and click camera? Believe me many of them take way better pics than a standard cell phone.

The difference is that cell phone cameras ‘pump up’ the saturation of the image, this is easily replicated with a plethora of image editing apps for your phone and desktop/laptop. I tried Photoshop Express free on my laptop for this exercises.

I have obviously over done the saturation here just to show what is available. I sharpened, saturated and added to contrast with Photoshop Express Free. Other options are using Canva and a plethora of other options available for your laptop.

Now that we have decided which option is best according to what you have available.

Next up: Where?

  • Choose your place carefully. Lighting makes or breaks the quality of you image. You don’t want bright light with sharp shadow. For people shots, early morning or late afternoon has soft light. If its cloudy, that ok too as you can up the saturation etc with your editing tool. Really the only time you don’t want to be photographing is mid day in bright light. I try to shoot on a sunny day, indoors at my biggest window which isn’t in direct light. The light is softer, shadows lighter. I use a white sheet of plastic, card or even polystyrene to bump the light and lesson shadows on the dark side..
  • Choose you background. For people, quiet scene outdoors or a plain background will deliver a professional looking setting. For stock, choose a white background, or make sure that you can blur the background so that your product doesn’t get lost in the image.
  • The white background of the product images was shot on a white infinity background. A sheet of white cardboard, arranged flat on the surface — the three bottles standing in the middle. Then the cardboard is held up behind the product so as to create a background that fades from foreground to the back. The white was bumped up in Photodshop to ‘disappear’ rather than being light grey. On the tins, I added the ‘shadow’.
Background or not? Both work if you make sure the background doesn’t overpower the product.

Tips to remember:

  • Try not to shoot on your camera on auto setting, try Manual / AV setting. Experiment and you’ll find yourself getting better and better.
  • Always shoot landscape. Just because often the website template/design requires landscape rather than portrait images. If portrait will work, you can crop…. if it requires landscape — you win.
  • Remember to shoot the images that you are going to use for website header places in panoramic setting. If your camera doesn’t have this setting then you need to make allowances for this.
  • For portraits, make sure that the subject fills the landscape image shape, but, that they wont look odd if cropped to portrait.
Keeping in mind what the image will be used for, shooting a few different options is always a good idea.
  • Shoot wide. Don’t shoot close up. Step back and place the article/person generously in the image. Rather have a lot of space around your image so that you have options when you are placing the image in a shaped box.
  • For portraits, make sure that the subject fills the landscape image shape, but, that they wont look odd if cropped to portrait.
  • Always make sure that your image is darker (under exposed) because that gives you more details to work with, over exposing means that the detail is often lost. Lightening up an image is easily done in your edit platform.
  • Clean your lens. Turn off your flash.
  • Take more pics of each subject than you normally would. Many times, an image that looks good on your phone or small lens, is not so great once you get it onto your laptop.
  • For landscape shots and portraits, a good rule of thumb is to use the rule of thirds. Don’t center the subject right in the middle of the photo. Some cameras have a grid system that you can see when taking the shot. Keep your subject out of the middle. It soon becomes obvious how interesting your ‘negative’ space can be.
I shot this image indoors, at a window with a white reflector to softly bump up the light. Background was a baking tin and the foreground, a breadboard.

Jacci from JacciR Design
Natural light photography. Link here and portfolio here
Instagram is my passion, it so suits my love for snapping away. Link here

JacciR Design is a virtual studio, making use of the best of social media platforms to reach, chat to, and design for, my clients.