Guest Blog: By Dan Iverson
Does your company have online curb appeal? These 7 photo mistakes may be impacting your bottom line.
Imagine searching for a new home and you come across two properties that are shaping up to be the perfect fit for you and your family. When you swing by for an in-person inspection, however, you discover the options are worlds apart. One home looks well maintained and features a stunning landscape while the other looks like it’s been neglected for the better part of a decade. In the blink of an eye you realize what you thought was going to be a difficult decision is now rather easy.
That’s because whether we like to admit it or not we are prejudiced by appearances. In fact, our brains process visual information 60 times faster than words alone, so it’s plain to see how as you’re gazing at a home in a state of disrepair your brain has subconsciously eliminated it from the running and is probably already picking out window treatments for the charming one. Image matters.
So, how does this translate to your business? You need online presence with curb appeal. More people than ever are shopping from home even when it comes to big purchases and what they see first has a huge impact on how they perceive your brand. People may poll their online audience of friends and peers for recommendations for products and services, but as soon as potential customers have your business name you can bet they’re going to search your company online. If your website and social media aren’t grabbing their attention with strong photos your message may be lost, or worse, you may be sending the wrong message about your professionalism. In contrast, high quality images — and better yet, images that put a face to your company — can build trust in your brand before prospects ever hit send on your contact form.
Doing all that with photography may sound confusing, but it doesn’t have to be. And you don’t need to invest $20,000 in camera equipment to do the job right. There are definitely times when you should consider hiring a professional photographer for your branded photography, but if you’re a DIY’er these tips will help ensure you’re sending the right message to your online viewers even if the best equipment you have is a mobile phone.
1. Show don’t tell.
Be strategic about your photos. Think about your picture as a story with no words and always be thinking: “Why am I creating this photo? What is its purpose?” and you’ll be ahead of the competition. Not only will your pictures be more engaging, but they will instantly convey your intended message to your audience and help them to remember your company first!
2. Look on the bright side.
Photographing your subject in an area with too much sunlight and shadows interfering with one another or in an area that’s too dark can be distracting to the viewer. One of the easiest things you can do for better pictures is to explore your subject at different times of day. You may find that the scene looks completely different at 7 a.m. vs. 7 p.m. As a general rule of thumb midday is the often most challenging time for photos as there tends to be too many harsh shadows. Softer, more-pleasing light can often be found closer to sunrise or sunset. Midday can work, however, and provide a pop of color when the light is even across the entire scene.
Another big no-no is to create a photo that just has too much going on. If you want to think like a photographer the mantra may be: simple is best. Remove items from the background that visually compete for your attention with the main subject. Be sure a tool in the background isn’t aligning on center with someone’s face in the foreground. This will subconsciously create tension with your audience. Be sure the space you’re working in is clean, too. If you’re showing off a completed remodel, for example, you’d want to make sure there aren’t boxes, packaging, tools or cords present anywhere in your pictures.
4. Sharpen up.
Modern cameras and mobile phone cameras make auto focus very simple — you just have to know how to use it. Mobile phone camera software autofocuses to the foreground of your frame. However, sometimes what you want to be in focus isn’t obvious. To adjust where you want your camera lens to focus just tap on the screen where you want to to sharpen the image. If you’re photographing something in motion try activating the burst setting on your camera, which will take a number of frames in a matter of seconds. It’s more likely one of them will have better focus than the others. Don’t be afraid to take a lot of pictures. You can delete the not-so-great ones later on.
5. Give it some space.
Too often I find when a team member is tasked with creating employee portraits the standard practice is to push them right up against a wall and stand very close to one another. For business portraits and headshots have your subject stand at least a few feet in front of a wall or background. This will help to ensure attention is clearly on the individual and not something else. You can also have a little fun with this concept if you put even more distance between the subject and the background to tell a little more about your company by subtly including some visual cues to your services in the background.
6. Photograph from different angles.
Not every picture is compelling from eye level, yet that’s where so many people are holding the camera for 99.9% of all of their pictures. Try kneeling down, or using a step ladder to gain a new perspective from above. Most pictures of physical spaces used to show off your business location, for example, often look better when photographed at or near hip level. You may be surprised that laying down completely may create a truly unique image, too.
7. Frame your subject.
A more advanced composition technique is to use the environment to frame your subject. This combines many of the tips above and helps to instantly draw viewers in to the message you wish to convey. Aside from doors and archways, keep your eyes open for patterns with arching trees, rows of lights or even railings to help isolate people and highlight them in an unexpected manner.
Learn more about Dan Iverson and Anthologie at www.theanthologie.com.