You're a new business owner and you can't afford to hire a professional photographer for your social media. Do I EVER understand your plight. But fear not, my friend. I am here to help. Let's start at the beginning. You need - I repeat: You NEED to have an active social media presence if you are a small business. If you cannot get on board with this concept, just stop here. (But I think that if you've found this article and are reading it, you're probably in agreement with me.) Your social media is relatively worthless if you don't have photographs. Let's be honest: most of us have the attention span of a goldfish these days. Photos grab our attention until your words can keep our attention. Nothing kills the value of a photo like a bad photo. Everybody's a critic. Even if your clients are not professional photographers, they KNOW bad photo when they see one. Let's take an example: You own a country-themed gift shop and you want to show your wonderful followers on Facebook these new snowflake canisters. So you fill them with dried grains (good call) and snap a photo of them. I'm proud to say that I took this myself on my iPad. I resisted the urge to pick up my gorgeous Nikon camera with the breathtaking 1.4 lens because YOU don't have one of those. You have an iPad. Or a camera on your phone. Or if you're lucky, a great little point-and-shoot. I did a little thinking and 3 minutes later, I took another snapshot with the same iPad on the same table. Here's what I came up with. There are 4 main technical differences in these two pictures. And in these 4 differences, you can learn how to take better photos for your business' social media pages. 1. Razor Sharp Focus. I'm telling you: if your photo is not in sharp focus, delete it. Don't ever, ever let your wonderful customers or clients see it. Do you know what a blurry photo says to your potential customers? It says, "I do not care about this product enough to take a good photo of it." So take the picture, zoom in on it, and make sure that the prominent point of focus is SHARP. In this photo, it's the foreground: the front of the canister which displays that cute little snowflake. 2. Mind Your Background. I have a studio full of backdrops, but I intentionally grabbed a scrap piece of plywood to demonstrate a point: If you can't have professional, aim for uncluttered. See those file folders in the background of the top image? Yuck. See the floor in the foreground? Super distracting. [Some may argue that there's a distracting little beam of light coming out from the left side of the bottom photo (under the plywood). Yeah, that bugs me too. But we're not striving to make a professional photo here. Just something better.] 3. Consider a Different Angle. The default setting for most people is to stand with the camera at arms' length and take a snapshot. Yawn. For the second photo, I crouched down, set the iPad on the table, and shot slightly up at the canisters. The changed perspective allows you to see more of the canister, and gives the perception that the canisters are larger than the other photo. Play around with different vantage points. You'll probably find something more visually appealing. 4. Soft, Even Lighting will Save Your Photo's Soul In the top photo, the window light casts a dark shadow on the front of the canisters. You don't see anything really appealing here; the light is either too bright or too dark. When you're setting up a shot, go for good light, but make it soft and even. If you're shooting something small, take the photo in a shady area near good window light. But make sure that the overall lighting in your photo is the same from one side to the other. There are other details that are different in the photos. Photographing an odd number of products instead of an even one is more aesthetically pleasing. I also intentionally positioned the canisters to catch the light, and this is a little trickier, but with practice and persistence, you can make it happen. So in conclusion: before you post a photo online, think about how your potential customer or client will see it. Don't settle for documentation. Make sure your photos really flatter the subject. Your cash flow will reflect the care and consideration you put into your social media photos.
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