If you want to create visually appealing print designs for your company, good photographs are must. Stock photos can work in a pinch, but there’s no true replacement for original photography. According to a recent survey, original graphics drove more than three times as much engagement to published articles as stock photos.
If you’re just getting started doing photography for your brand, it may feel like a daunting task. With some time, practice and key tips in mind, you’ll be photographing like a pro before you know it. Check out our top five tips for producing high-quality photographs below.
Good lighting is perhaps the most fundamental component to a high-quality photograph. Light is what defines the various shapes and dimension in an image. Without good lighting, you risk your photos coming out grainy and unclear. Lighting also is a major determining factor of the overall mood of a photo. A dark background and brightly lit central image can be quite dramatic, while a photograph with rich, golden lighting may look tranquil or even vintage. Proper lighting also creates depth and illuminates interesting textures within the photo.
Lighting can be tricky for beginning photographers. Invest in a few low-cost LED light panels with portable stands, which are usually small, easy to transport can be purchased for under $50. With a quick Google search, you can also find information on three-point lighting to learn how to best place the lights. If you have to make do with natural lighting, be sure to adjust the exposure on your camera to avoid taking a shot that is over- or under-exposed.
Composition refers to the way all the visual elements in an image are arranged. When done well, composition will lead the viewer to look at the intended main subject of the photograph. As you frame your shots, consider how each element in the scene, such as lines, shapes, and patterns, will look together. It also can be helpful to consider the rule of thirds. If you were to separate the photo into three equal sections, the most important elements should lay on the lines separating each section.
Though the best way to learn how to compose photographs is to simply practice as much as possible, there are a few common mistakes you can try to avoid. Centering every image may seem like a good idea, but doing so can actually cause your photographs to look a bit prosaic. Instead, try following the rule of thirds discussed above to create more tension and interest. You should also keep an eye out for distracting eyesores in the background of your photo. Your restaurant’s food may look great in the photo, but if it’s set against a table littered with scratches, the effect will be diminished.
Balanced color is another important aspect of any photo. Colors can create harmony throughout the elements in the image and define the desired emotional impact. Bright, warm colors may feel more upbeat and lively, while darker hues can convey a wistful or even gloomy. There are also certain color combinations that tend to work best in photographs. Contrasting colors, such as blue and orange, are especially vivid and energizing when used together, and complementary colors, like blue and green, tend to give off a calming effect. If you want to highlight one distinctive item, a neutral background may be best to keep the focus on the main subject.
When editing your photos, it’s all too easy to make mistakes that distort the color of the images. To help capture the true color of the image upfront, use a plain white card to adjust the white balance settings on your camera. If you do still want to edit the colors afterward, watch how much saturation you add to the photographs and avoid over-sharpening images. In small, calculated amounts, these features can enhance color, but overdoing it may make photos look unrealistic.
Your camera’s distance to the main subject of the photograph is also critical to the image’s impact. Certain settings, such as nature or event scenes, can look especially powerful from far away. Meanwhile, others will look better when shot close up, including portraits and product images. Closer shots let the viewer feel like they are right there in the scene, which is helpful for highlighting important details. Distanced photos can include more elements in the composition, but be sure to consider if the extra space will be distracting.
If you’re photographing a specific object or person, nailing the right distance can be difficult. You’ll want to make sure to capture the subject’s unique features, but if you come in too close, you risk cutting off part of the scene. On the other hand, staying too far away can look aimless and may not provide enough detail. If you have time, try to shoot your subject from a variety of distances to give yourself options when editing.
A truly amazing picture will evoke a certain response from the viewer and take them on a visual journey. Great photographs communicate distinct emotions and feelings, making its audience think a bit deeper. Often, the story of an image lies in the details, so try to include small features in your frame that help build the photo’s narrative. If you can get every piece of the image to interact with the others, it can leave people with a strong and memorable message.
Popular poses and viewpoints can be appropriate in certain situations, but if you’re trying to tell a compelling story, you may need to switch it up. Looking at your subject from an unexpected perspective or angle can give ordinary-seeming scenes a fresh and interesting story that will hook viewers.