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How to: taking great photos for your socials + website

How to: taking great photos for your socials + website

Photography is so important for business. You know the old saying; “a picture tells a thousand words”. This has never been truer than in our social media age. Stats show that people engage more with images than text (and videos more than images… but that’s for another post).

Unfortunately, we come across too many small and even medium-sized businesses that are either not sharing any images on their website or social media profiles, or the ones they do are doing more harm than good. Remember, your online presence is all about building trust with potential customers. Everything you present about your business online is sending messages to customers about who you are.

With that in mind, what do you think blurry, pixelated photos are saying about your business? The answer is; nothing good.

When thinking about social media for small business, quality, high-resolution images are imperative to showcase your business’s professionalism, and encouraging potential customers to see you as a trustworthy business they would like to engage. Sharing photos could be as simple as posting photo updates and product displays on Facebook and Instagram or on a thriving website. But how do you manage to get these high-quality, client-winning images without paying a professional photographer to chase you around all day?

Take a look at our comprehensive guide to taking photos on your smartphone for business:

1. Good lighting

Low-light does not produce clear results and you will find yourself left with a blurry, unappealing photo and a lost subject.

Where possible, use as much natural light as you can. A good amount of light from the sun filtering through a window, or photos taken outside, are usually crisp and coloured well. When posting on social media for small business, a well-lit photo will be your best friend. If you don’t have the luxury of using natural light or need to take photos at night, make sure any lights or lamps you use have strong cool-white light bulbs and are positioned so that they don’t cast shadows that take the focus away from your subject.

Handy Tip

Cup your hand over your phone when taking a photo outside in full sun – it will cut down the amount of lens flare you get on your photo and make your subject clearer. Just be sure not to capture your hand in any part of the photo!

2. Avoid using the flash

Where possible, try to avoid using your smartphone camera flash. A flash often makes a subject overexposed and throws off any quality on the photo. It also makes it really difficult to correct the image in programs such as Photoshop. As part of our social media marketing services for small businesses, we often receive images from clients and complete a few whizz-bang tricks to optimise the image. However, if a flash has been used badly, it makes it near impossible for us!

3. Line up those parallels

A simple way to take an appealing photo is to ensure that any natural lines and edges that appear in your photo are parallel with your camera edge. For example, if you are taking a photo of the horizon, try to ensure that the horizon line is straight (parallel to the top and bottom edges of your camera). Similarly, if you are taking a photo of a bookcase, try to ensure that at least one or two straight edges of the bookcase are exactly vertical or exactly horizontal (making them parallel to your camera edges).

A helpful tool to use for this is the grid setting on your smartphone. The grid setting superimposes a set of lines on to your camera view that allows you to line up subjects in the same parallel as the top and bottom edges and side edges of your camera.

To switch the grid setting on …

  • iPhone: Go to “Settings,” choose “Photos & Camera,” and switch “Grid” on.
  • Samsung Galaxy: Launch the camera app, go to “Settings,” scroll down and switch the “grid lines” option to “on.”

4. Give the subject some breathing room

While it is important to focus your photo on your subject, we often find that it is more appealing to viewers to see a subject cleverly balanced with its surroundings. The Rule of Thirds applies in this instance, often encouraging photographers to keep the subject (your product, your staff, etc) within one third of the photo, and leave two thirds of the photo as “negative space” (the wall behind your product, the garden behind your staff). This helps your subject stand out more. It also can allow room to move for when different social platforms crop your image.

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5. Different perspectives give different photos

Taking photos from different angles can give your subject a whole new look. Don’t be afraid to play around with obscure angles (like birds-eye view, flat-lays, wide-angle with ample negative space) and keep in mind your “line of sight”. For example, what is in the background of your shot? Is something making a reflection in your photo that has sneakily captured you in the shot? Always be aware of what else has crept into your photo while you’ve been focusing on your subject.

Our experience in social media management has shown that it’s sometimes an unexpected perspective of a photo which delivers the best results; so get creative.

Handy Tip

Use visual symmetry and give your photo a natural balance.

6. When photographing people, take candids

It can be great to take posed photos for celebratory keepsakes or introducing staff members on your social platforms, but seeing people in-action can be much more interesting. It can also show off your product or service in a more relatable way for your customers. As a small business social media marketing company, we find that posts which look more natural get the most engagement. Your audiences love getting a backstage-pass to your business. They love seeing what makes your business tick, which is why candid photos work best.

Ideas for candid photography could be happy snaps of your staff as they naturally work on-the-job, or informative photos of someone using your product as your customers would at home. Sometimes taking multiple photos one after the other can help get the best candid photo of your subject.

7. Touch the screen to focus

Tap the screen of your smartphone where your subject is to focus on it. This prompts the smartphone to optimise the lighting of the photo for your subject and to ensure that your subject is the focus of the photo.

8. Avoid the zoom function on your smartphone

The zoom function distorts the resolution and produces a blurry and pixilated photo. Instead, take a wide-angle shot (if you can’t get as close as you want to) and use the crop function later on in your phone editing tools. That way, the quality of your photo is not lost but the focus is still on the subject you intended. 

9. Use your phone editing capabilities

Nearly all smartphones have photo editing tools available now without having to download any additional applications. Editing your photo can make it more visually appealing for your customers by brightening colours, contrasting your lights and darks, and allowing your subject to stand out even more so.

Here is a quick rundown of the basic editing functions you might be able to use to enhance your photo (keep in mind, too much editing will lessen the quality of your photo!):

Brightness

This one speaks for itself. Adjusting the brightness of your photo can enhance details that were lost in darkness and can make light areas pop. Use this tool sparingly as pushing the brightness right up the extreme can severely lessen the crispness of your photo.

Contrast

Using the contrast function will brighten your light areas and darken your shadowed areas to create a crisp photo that stands out.

Saturation

Boosting the saturation tool will enhance the colours of your photo, and reducing the saturation to its lowest point will completely remove the colour from the image and turn it into a black and white photo. The saturation tool is handy for when you don’t have optimal lighting on your subject and need to give the colour of it a little freshen up to match what it looks like to the human eye.

Crop

The crop tool gives you the ability to trim edges off your photo and cut it down to focus in on your subject.

Handy Tip

Try not to use the pre-determined filters set on your smartphone. They are over-used and you lose some of the quality of the photo.

Hopefully, these recommendations on how to take a quality photo on your smartphone will serve you and your business well. Showcasing your products and services on a regular basis to your audience with quality photos can only ever boost your brand and identity. If you’re looking for help with social media marketing for small business, feel free to get in touch!

In the meantime, happy snapping!

 

 

 

Rise of the Mumpreneur: why, how & advice

Rise of the Mumpreneur: why, how & advice

Partner.
Mother.
Business Owner.
Unicorn.

For many Australian families, it’s challenging or downright impossible to live on a single income. Even when the primary income earner (lets – rightly or wrongly – call him “husband”) earns a decent wage.

With the rising cost of housing, groceries, utilities and general life, many families have no choice but for the mother to return to work after maternity leave.

This then means childcare is another bill to add to the pile.

Unless you’re fortunate enough to have family or friends to take care of your children for free, childcare is a necessary evil of working parents. And with most childcare costing in excess of $100 per day, it raises the question if it really is worth the mother returning to work.

On International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating all women! Stay-at-home, work-at-home, employed or otherwise. However today, I’ve written a more personal but still marketing-focussed article about the “rise of the Mumpreneur.” Why they start, what they’re doing and how they can grow.

Rise of the Mumpreneur

Mumpreneurs are working mums, with a twist. They’re fed up with working all day just to pay someone else to mind their child. They’re done with inflexible working hours, being frowned at for leaving the office to pick up the kids, and for missing the days spent with their darling children who grow up all too fast.

They’re swapping it for working early mornings, late nights and working during nap times.

These women are the Mumpreneurs.

A new breed of Australian mothers who are choosing to be work-at-home-mums (WAHM’s) in the form of starting their own business.

Who are Mumpreneurs?

A breed of women trying to forge their own way forward whilst juggling kids and a busy home life. These women aren’t necessarily doing anything “better” or “worse”, they’re just trying to find a solution which works for them.

The types of businesses owned by Mumpreneurs range from handmade goods through to financial services. However, some of the more common industries include:

  • Children’s clothing, toys and home decor
  • Photography
  • Home decor
  • Bath and beauty products
  • Virtual Assistants
  • Online retailers
  • Interior designers
  • Business coaches
  • Women’s clothing and accessories
  • Graphic and web design

Top tips for Mumpreneurs (from a mum and  marketer)

As a marketing consultant and working mother, I’ve listed a few tips to help Mumpreneurs build their businesses (and keep their sanity).

1. Build your email list and use it

I might sound like a broken record, but email lists are by and far the best tool for online businesses. Collect those email addresses and send out regular communication.

If you want to read more about why we love email marketing, check out this post.

2. Leverage the power of outsourcing online

In the beginning, it can be very difficult to justify the expense of outsourcing. And before you know you have a proper market for your business you probably should only take baby steps to make sure you don’t put yourself under more financial stress.

However, the beauty of the online economy is the availability of collaboration. Gone are the days where you would need to actually hire a full time staff member to delegate tasks to. You can now work with anyone in Australia (even the world) to lighten your workload. You’ll find is that the time you free-up trying to stumble through a task you know nothing about can be better used to grow your business.

3. Measure your marketing efforts

Whilst there will always be a place for traditional marketing (print ads, billboards, TV, radio etc.), it’s quite out of reach for many Mumpreneur budgets.

The good news? Digital marketing is cheaper, more effective and measurable. What digital marketing channels should you be using?

  • Social media (Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn etc.) – particularly paid promotions
  • Google My Business (show up on local listings and get reviews)
  • Search Engine Optimisation (even just the bare minimum)
  • Blogging (including guest blogging on complementary sites)
  • Email marketing

The best thing about all of these is that you can track and measure their effectiveness. If something isn’t working – ditch it. If another platform is outperforming – invest in it more. Digital marketing isn’t “set-and-forget”; it requires constant evaluation and tweaking to ensure you’re maximising your budget and efforts.

4. Avoid working during “awake” time

I’ve attempted this many times and failed almost every one of those times. When the children are awake, it’s very difficult to focus on getting a task done and keeping the kids happy.  It either ends up in sloppy work or a frustrated baby and mother.

Bear in mind, some Mumpreneur businesses (eg. handmade-based) might allow for “collaboration” where your little one can “help” you create the products, but for anything which requires concentration, leave it to nap time.

Another tactic is to get up early. I know, you’re probably already sleep deprived, and during times of crisis, it probably is best to get some extra sleep. But, if you’re anything like us, my son wakes at around 5:00am before needing some resettling and instead of crawling back to bed, I like to get up and catch up on some to-do’s. Even if that’s only getting through some overnight emails, I feel much more centred and ahead of the game.

5. Don’t discount Childcare

If you can afford it, having even just one full day to work can make a huge difference. It will either allow you to focus on building your business, or it means you can work less on the days your child is at home.

6. Find a support community

Some (most) days are hard. If it was easy, everyone would do it. You need to ensure you have a community of women who understand what you’re going through. Again, the internet is a magical thing. Facebook groups (like my personal favourite Mums With Hustle) are great to get things off your chest, ask for another perspective, seeking advice and sharing successes.

At Birdcage Marketing we work with so many amazing women dedicated to building their businesses. Whether they’re trail-blazing business owners or inspiring leaders, we love sharing each and every journey.

If you want to work with us too, contact us