Author: Jenny Anderson
For many customers, your website is their first glimpse of your store. It helps them get to know you and your shop. That’s why it’s important to use high-quality, authentic photos on your website. And with the growing importance of social channels like Facebook and Instagram, you should make photography a business priority. High-quality photos set you apart from other businesses while giving clients a realistic feel for your shop’s style, brand and voice.
Fortunately, you don’t need to hire an expensive pro to take professional-looking photos. Follow these budget-friendly tips to improve your shop’s image and marketing materials.
Horizontal and vertical grid lines help you straighten out angled or crooked photos. The nine sets of rectangles also help you follow photography’s “rule of thirds,” which help compose photos. In brief, the rule of thirds means placing your subject in one-third of the camera’s screen. Photo Credit: Shane Indrebo.
Use Your Smartphone
You probably already own a powerful, consumer-friendly camera: a smartphone. The same camera that captures everyday moments with friends and family can also take serious business photos. Most newer smartphones have cameras with excellent megapixels, sensors and lenses, so you don’t need to buy an expensive DSLR camera.
But you can boost your smartphone’s performance by reading its manual or watching YouTube videos to learn your phone’s camera features. The more features you master, the faster you’ll jumpstart your photography skills.
One of the best features on an iPhone or Android is the camera’s grid. If the grid isn’t activated on your camera, you can turn it on in the camera settings. Horizontal and vertical grid lines help you straighten out angled or crooked photos. The nine sets of rectangles also help you follow photography’s “rule of thirds,” which help compose photos. In brief, the rule of thirds means placing your subject in one-third of the camera’s screen.
Another helpful camera feature is the focus tool. Simply tap the subject on your screen that you want to sharply focus. On iPhones, a little square appears. Slide your finger up or down to change the focused subject’s exposure or brightness. On Androids, a small circle appears on the screen with a separate brightness slider at the bottom. Depending on the lighting, this feature brightens or darkens your subject.
Capitalize on Your Store
Archery stores are full of photography opportunities. Take advantage of its many settings, products and in-store events. Consider these tips and ideas for in-store photo shoots.
- Close-up shot.
- Wide shot.
- Your Indoor and/or Outdoor Range:
- Close-up of targets with or without arrows.
- Wide shot of range.
- Staff Profiles for Website and Social Media:
- Close-up shot.
- Wide shot.
- Outdoors hunting or target-practicing.
- On-the-Job with Staff:
- Teaching lessons.
- Interacting with customers.
- Setting up and tuning a bow.
- Customers at Your Store:
- Getting lessons.
- Competing in a league or program.
- Practicing at the range.
- Groups hosting parties or outings with friends.
- Using a white backdrop for displays,
- Using staff members as models.
- Using unique angles and perspectives.
If midday sunlight is too harsh, lower the exposure by adjusting your smartphone’s focus and brightness slider feature. Photo Credit: ATA.
Use Natural Light
Natural light is a photographer’s best friend. With natural light, you don’t need to buy pricy lighting equipment. Light flowing through windows or natural daylight outdoors can produce clean, crisp photos. Low lighting often creates grainy, pixelated images, so use natural light whenever possible.
If midday sunlight is too harsh, lower the exposure by adjusting your smartphone’s focus and brightness slider feature.
Avoid inconsistent lighting. If shooting indoors, keep shadows off your subject from objects like curtains, other products, or even yourself. When shooting outdoors, watch for shadows from buildings, or tree branches and leaves. It’s OK to shoot in shaded areas as long as the lighting is consistent and not scattered.
Clear the Clutter
Great photos can be ruined instantly by background clutter. Be aware of your surroundings. What’s in front of your subject and behind it?
Trashcans, messy countertops, random people and unrelated products can all be distractions. Make sure your subject is the center of attention in your photo.
Enhancing your photos through editing can help them stand out. Several free or affordable smartphone apps help transform amateur images into professional photos. Photo Credit: ATA.
Enhancing your photos through editing can help them stand out. Several free or affordable smartphone apps help transform amateur images into professional photos. Photo editing with an app can take seconds. Here are a few go-to apps to consider for your smartphone.
1. Lightroom CC (free with optional in-app purchase): This app adjusts your photo’s lighting, color, sharpness, noise reduction and aspect ratio.
2. TouchRetouch ($1.99): If you couldn’t avoid that trashcan or stray person in the background, this app removes whatever ails your photo.
3. Adobe Spark Post (free with optional in-app purchase): Combine your photography with this powerful marketing tool. Promote sales, events, lessons, products and programs with templates that combine text and photography.
You don’t have to break the bank to create quality marketing material for your store. Good photography helps you stand out from other businesses and reach customers at professional levels.
Too busy to take your own photos? Assign those duties to a staff member, or hire someone who’s smartphone-savvy to take photos for you. You can also review stock-photography websites, which require paid memberships; or free photos with Creative Commons licenses. Be careful which photos you use. Inaccurate or misrepresented photos can ruin your credibility.
Here some cautions when using stock photos:
- Double-check for accuracy.
- Is the archer holding the bow correctly?
- Is a right-handed archer using a right-handed bow?
- Where is the archer’s anchor point?
- Photos portraying a single group of people.
- Be inclusive. Archers come from all age and social groups.
- Be aware of how photos portray men and women.
- Is the stock photo too commonly used?
- Check to see if the same photo is being used on every other archery business’s website.
- If it’s a popular photo, choose something else.
Which brings us to another reason for taking your own photos: They ensure originality. No other store can take the same photo as you. Plus, by using your own photos, you’ll stand apart from those using carbon-copy stock photos.
For more ideas to improve your online presence or engage more customers, check out ATA’s website development services on its website. You can also contact Nicole Nash, ATA’s member outreach manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or toll-free (866) 266-2776.