Worth a thousand words

Photographer Ansel Adams once said: “There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.” Lewis Dellar, designer at the The Franchise Magazine, focuses on the 10 rules that will battle this theory and help turn you into a master photographer, one click at a time

Photography plays an important role in the promotion and marketing of any business; images can add depth and bring your publications and web content to life. If you’re intimidated by photography, you’re not alone – many business owners think the same way you do. The best way to begin is to be prolific – the more pictures you take, edit, post online or put into your next marketing brochure, the easier photography will be. Follow these 10 simple steps to help ease your photo fear and get more from the pictures you take.

1. Purchase a Good Camera

Everyone these days owns a top of the range smartphone or tablet, and most of these come with built-in cameras. Yes, an iPhone or Blackberry can take pretty good pictures, but it’s definitely worth investing in a reasonable digital SLR camera. It doesn’t need to have all the bells, whistles and lenses, but you do need something that allows you to focus, zoom in and adjust settings. A personal favourite of mine is the Canon 700D series, which is a good place to start. If you do decide to invest in a camera, read the manual carefully and get to grips with all of its features to get the most from your new purchase.

2. Get Shooting

Once you have your camera, the only barrier between you and an abundance of stunning images is the limits of your own imagination. Find the time to take pictures of your products and services, as well as going out on location to events and exhibitions. Make sure you have a variety of sizes and resolutions available for different forms of media exposure.

3. Tell Stories with Your Photos

The best photos tell stories about your business and its products or services. While static product shots are necessary, you’ll also want to have a steady supply of photos showing people engaging with your products and employees. These photos are especially useful on Facebook and other social media sites, where people expect and want to follow stories. Think about your business’ core mission and how best to tell the story of your company visually.

4. Avoid Staged Shots

There’s nothing worse for marketing – or storytelling – than a contrived row of people forcing grins at a camera. Catch people doing things, interacting and being natural.

5. Embrace Natural Lighting

Natural light is almost always better than the sterile luminescence produced by a camera flash, particularly for fledgling photographers. If possible, shoot outdoors or in settings that have plenty of natural light.

6. Remember the Rule of Thirds

Photos work best when subjects are slightly off-centre. This may seem counterintuitive but in fact, centring the subject of your photo looks unnatural. To put the ‘rule of thirds’ into practice, visualise two horizontal and two vertical lines over your image, If there is someone’s face, or an object, that you would like to be the focus of your shot, place it on one of the spots where the lines cross. These key zones are the best spots for your subjects, and using them will give your photos a sense of movement, urgency and intrigue.

7. Have a Clear Subject

Photos that are too busy and cluttered can be confusing to viewers. Try to focus on one object, interaction or person in each shot.

8. Edit, But Don’t Overdo It

In addition to having a good camera, you will want to have good photo editing software. Adobe Photoshop is the industry standard, but it can be comparatively expensive and there are many free alternatives available. Use your software to crop your photos and to adjust things like brightness and colour. However, be careful not to over-edit; editing should enhance your photos, not overpower them.

9. Get Some Head Shots

They are not the most exciting photos, but head shots of all the primary people in your business are important to have for external media, social media and personal profiles on your company’s website. These images will represent the first impression of you and your company for prospective clients seeking your services when searching online. These portrait photographs need to portray your team as smart professionals, who are both approachable and experts in their fields.

10. Experiment with Stock Photography

Stock photography websites can give you a wealth of images to help add depth to your website and marketing materials. You don’t want to overuse stock images, since your own photos can tell the story of your business much more accurately and engagingly. However, when used wisely, stock photography can play a more immediate role in your image strategy.

When newspaper editor Arthur Brisbane coined the expression: “A picture is worth a thousand words” in 1911, even he could not have predicted the impact photographs would have on society a century later – especially when it comes to making the best possible first impression. People on average, according to a study in The Daily Mirror newspaper, take less than two minutes to make a first impression. You have just 119 seconds to convince visitors and potential clients to use your services. Don’t waste their time with endless sentences and uninspiring information; get to the point with a visually stunning and relevant photograph.

The more you practice taking photographs, the more comfortable you will feel. Taking, editing, posting and publishing pictures will become a natural part of your business’ day-to-day activities. Soon, you will find these images begin to form the cornerstone of your complete marketing strategy. Remember, every click could be “worth a thousand words”, so get snapping and expose your company to a world of opportunities.