As a freelance photographer I have had to learn marketing, accounts, admin and many other skills that are required to run a business and I think other freelancers and small businesses should consider photography as one of the main skills required to enhance their business’ professional look. If you are a business owner, think about how you are coming across to your customers, your images are your first impression.
A professional look isn’t that difficult to achieve. There are plenty of tutorials online and a wide range of cameras to suit everyone with any level of photography skills, so there is no excuse to having poor quality images to represent your business.
A couple of weeks ago I was asked to teach some workshops to young entrepreneurs on easy professional photography. I brought the Fujifilm X-A2 with me to show them how there is no need for big and expensive cameras that can be difficult to understand to achieve that professional look. The X-A2 is easy to operate and it is the perfect choice for those looking for professional results without complications. It is also ideal for on-the-go shoots thanks to its size and weight. One of my favourite features is the wireless file transfer, I love that I can instantly transfer any photo on to my phone and upload it straight to my Instagram; very handy for those interested in Social Media (who isn’t?).
So, with the X-A2 in one hand and a bunch of props in the other I was ready to show my students how to easily achieve professional looking images. Do you want to know how? Here we go:
Many people don’t pay attention to what is behind the subject they are photographing. It is very important! It makes most of the picture. Your background can enhance or shrink your subject. Make sure there are no distractions, and if you can’t avoid them, then use your aperture to blur them out and focus in your subject.
An easy way of creating a DIY background for small objects or product photography is using wrapping paper. The good thing about this technique is that you can pick from the simplest and classic white background to any other print that you can find in the shop that will go well with the theme.
No one wants a photo that is too dark or too light to see anything. Having your camera in automatic is a save way of making sure your photo is going to be acceptable. I have always thought that using the preset profiles in cameras are nothing to be ashamed of, after all camera makers are great experts and will not adjust the presets to something that wouldn’t work.
On the other hand, if you have knowledge of aperture and shutter speed (and even if you don’t, just experiment!) don’t be afraid of switching to manual and adding a personal touch by playing with light. Sometimes breaking the rules and accidents make the most amazing pictures.
I personally like to use harsh lighting in my favour, for example, on those rare super sunny days where there are no clouds (that we are sometimes lucky enough to experience in the UK!) or in a situation where I have the light source opposite to me and not behind me, I like to create high contrast dramatic images.
Find the best composition to enhance your subject. No one looks their best at every angle. Again, background and lighting affects the whole of the final image, and the angle where you are shooting from can change these two factors. You need to find the perfect combination. If your subject is surrounded by colour and contrast, the viewer might be distracted when looking at the image, crop distractions from the background. Also find the angle with the best lighting, if you want a dramatic effect, maybe shoot against the light source, if you want a softer and smoother effect, make sure the light is not directly behind the camera. Last but not least, if your subject has a more appealing side, then make sure you are shooting the right side!
These are my 3 easy points to achieve professional looking images. Now go on and try it! Don’t forget to let me know how it goes.