Taking Good Photos is No Point-and-Shoot Action
Eye-catching photos are a must for most successful marketing campaigns. The best ones seem to jump off the digital screen or printed page and grab your attention.
Of course, these compelling images don’t magically appear. They are the end result of a process that requires a lot of expertise and planning. Here are some Kinetic perspectives on photography that ensure that the images you capture for clients are the best they can be.
WHAT IS THE MESSAGE?
Your client and you have to have a clear advertising concept. What is the message you want to convey? Don’t scatter bunch of competing ideas across your end product. Like a good photographer, you have to focus. Get rid of the clutter. Don’t confuse your viewers with unrelated images and inconsistent style. Be intentional with your presentation and show consistency in lighting, tone, composition and point of focus.
Before you shoot the first photo, have a plan. Take time for a brainstorming session. Get out of the box. What are the cool ideas you have? Throw out the bad ones. Refine the good ones. Anticipate the unexpected, then set a course for photo success. Make sure to ask yourself if the photos represent your values and the true offer to the viewer.
TAKE STOCK OF STOCK
As part of your planning, surf through the images available from stock photo services. Visit to find ideas and inspiration. Maybe your perfect photo style is there. Check out Instagram and Pinterest, too.
Be honest about your skills. Great photographers are, well, great. Their work is compelling, evocative and exudes a sense of personality. There’s clarity of what the message is. Their photos are technically strong – well lighted, crisp and clean, displaying just the right colors. Whether the subject is jewelry, handbags, heavy-duty trucks, banks or food.
There’s nothing worse than an unprofessional photo, as it reflects poorly on your client and company. Know the limits of your skills. When the assignment calls for something out of your comfort zone, find a photographer who can deliver.
MODELS AND PROPS CAN HELP OR DISTRACT
When you set up for your photo shoot, be judicious in your use of models and props. Use them to reinforce the message, not to distract from the product. Managing models brings additional challenges to a photo shoot.
They should know the general goal of the session, what concepts are in the mix, and what expectations you have for them. They are rarely the stars of the production. The product should be.
With props, don’t overdo it. They can easily distract from the product or person you are featuring.
When you are shooting, make sure you have space and access to work the subject from all angles, whether you are shooting a bowl of tasty chowder on a kitchen table or a camping trailer being towed on a winding mountain road.
Angles can add perspective, drama and fun. Just the right composition – against a stark background or bustling cityscape – can create an appropriate mood and tell a great story.
LET THERE BE (GREAT) LIGHT
Good lighting is critical. Try starting with one light, either a main source of natural light (outside in the sun or indoors with a window working for you) or studio lighting, which brings consistency to the process.
Color can make or break a photo. It can show high energy or a sense of peace. It can disrupt viewers or disarm them. Be sure you understand when colors work well together and when they don’t play nice.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT TOOLS
Get the right equipment and take time to learn how everything works. Your choice of lenses will provide options for extreme close-ups, depth-of-field choices and aperture/shutter-speed variables. Unless you’re trying to create a sense of motion or other dramatic effect, blurry photos are best edited out of your picks. Using a selective focus featuring a sharp image and out-of-focus background can be an effective strategy.
The shooting is just the start. Editing-room skills are essential to fine-tune your images to be as good as they can be. Finding just the right crop and perfect light intensity, contrast, and color saturation is a time-consuming chore. You’ll want to stay on top of your editing skills with always-upgraded programs such as Photoshop or Lightroom.
As they used to say in the old days, “film is cheap.” That statement was meant to encourage photographers to take lots and lots of shots. But first, be deliberate and intentional as you set up your scene. Once you’ve laid the foundation, yes, freely click away and edit down to your keepers.