5 Tips for DIY Marketing Images
Updated: Apr 17, 2020
Photography is a skill many can struggle with. But especially these days it is detrimental to businesses brand and professionalism to be posting low quality images on digital marketing platforms. To help companies out we wanted to break down 5 actionable tips for getting high quality images yourself.
1. Have a goal for the image
This is the jumping off point for the whole process. We need to set out with a purpose, what is the image for? Where it is going to be posted? What do we need from it? No more randomly spamming the camera and hoping for the best, this is a methodical process of planning and executing on a plan.
For example, you could want to get a photo for a social media post about some new products you are offering. In this case the goal is to get a high-quality shot highlighting the special features of your product to a potential customer. This means you should find an area with a plain background, so the main point of interest is the product. Then you need to experiment with angles to find which one shows the product features off best so the customers can understand why they need your product instead of a competitors. If you wanted, you could do extra close up shots of the key features to further help customers see the benefit of the product. This all stems from knowing the goal and, hence knowing the audience.
2. Focus on one main subject
When looking for high-quality DIY images there needs to be a clear point of interest, a main subject for the audience of the picture to focus on. As people get started with photography many seem to be under the impression that more = better, more things in the frame, more visuals to keep people’s attention etc. In fact, to start with the opposite is true.
The goal is to portray your message with as little fluff, distractions or other focus points as possible, the key to visual storytelling is simplicity. If you are getting a product image, it should be that product as the main focus point, nothing distracting in the background, no random bursts of colour or other visual anomalies. If you are doing a shot of your office space all of the desks should be clean and neat, nothing out of place to break the concentration and focus of the audience. The customers should only see what you want them to see and their interest should be solely on that.
As we progress as photographers and learn more about the language of photography we can start to experiment with visual touches and additions to improve the story told by the image, but for starters less is always more.
Quick tip number 1: To begin with you should focus on only one key subject, one key focal point of the image. Whether that be a product or a person or a place, keep it simple and make it easy for people to understand the purpose of the photograph.
3. Take your time
It is very unlikely that the first picture you take will be exactly what is needed. Take your time to experiment and test different ideas, different angles and focus points. The more time you spend on getting a photo, the better the end result will be. It is important to note however that the quantity of photos taken doesn’t necessarily correlate to quality if they are all pretty much the same photo.
It may be beneficial to think in terms of ‘set ups’, meaning you try your first set up as a straight on image with the subject in the middle of the frame, do a few shots of that and then move to another ‘set up’ position which is different, take a few shots there and so on. You should feel like you have the freedom to try things and experiment, some ideas will work, some wont, but you will have many more options to choose from at the end.
Taking your time should also extend to the phase after you have chosen your photo. Spend time editing and adjusting elements like lighting and cropping, all this time will not be wasted, the image that comes out at the end will be far superior to another which had no time spent on it.
Quick tip number 2: When editing photos, less is more. Subtle changes to the original photo which enhance the story and remove any anomalies are the most impactful to make. Down the rabbit hole of photo editing software, ideas and options it is very easy to get carried away and ruin a perfectly good image. Be mindful of the original goal for the image.
4. Think about lighting & composition
These are the two biggest factors for high quality images, in most regards these days it doesn’t matter what you take the picture on, be it a phone or a camera or a go pro, most modern technology offers HD photography capabilities. But what always matters is what is in the frame itself.
Lighting & composition can be tweaked and manipulated after the fact, but it is always an up-hill battle to get it to an acceptable point should something be off. Getting the best you can in-camera on the day will greatly increase the quality of the final image. When thinking about lighting we go back to the goal of the image you’ve set out at the start, what is the main focus? This focal point needs to be clearly lit, and easily distinguishable from the less important aspects in the image. You can use natural light to give the subjects a more even, naturalistic look or implement artificial lighting to call attention to the important details in the image.
Composition for the DIY photographer will likely link to our less is more ideas about capturing images. Clear and easy to understand compositions are paramount, you can use techniques such as leading lines and the rule of thirds (Examples bellow) to highlight the main focuses of the image. Try not to have too many conflicting visuals in the frame, you don’t want the audience to be confused about what they are looking at. Composition again should link to the final goal of the image, what needs to be shown? What is important? This will help you determine how to compose high quality images.
Quick tip number 3: Use natural light where you can. Not only is using natural light cheaper and easier than using artificial light sources, it generally gives images a more authentic feel and aesthetic due to the natural diffusion of the light from the sun. When possible situate your subjects close to a window or a similar source of natural light… or go the whole hog and shoot outside.
5. Practice, practice, practice
It’s a cliché, it’s an obvious point, it’s a bit preachy… But ultimately it is the only thing that is going to make you a better photographer. Go out and shoot, experiment with lighting and composition, research photographers and images which connect with you, dissect why they work or why they don’t.
Learn the limitations of the equipment you're using. Simply having the equipment to get ‘good’ photos doesn’t mean you automatically will, you have to learn what the equipment can and can’t do, learn the cameras weak points and investigate how to mitigate them. For example, as good as modern phone cameras are, they still struggle in low light situations, so you need a lot of artificial lights to get a usable image.
Research and reach out to photographers you admire and see what advice they have, look online for blogs and videos about visual storytelling and photography, try new things, fail, try again, be innovative, be different, but most importantly... Pick up a camera and start shooting!