If a picture is worth a thousand words, what do photos on your website and social media say about your business? Good photos grab attention, communicating who you are and what value your shop delivers. Meanwhile, bad photos get lost in the internet’s digital clutter — at best. At worst, they make your business look backward and unprofessional.
With a little effort and practice, you can take great photographs for your website, your advertising and your social-media platforms. Let’s review 10 tips for taking better photos.
Look through Instagram and note what kind of pictures catch your eye and what you like about them. Photo Credit: Unsplash
You don’t need to take photography classes to improve your skills, but if you have the time, money and inclination, check out your options at camera stores or community colleges. Or just scroll through Instagram occasionally. Note which photos make you stop scrolling to figure out what you liked. A major plus of Instagram is that you’ll also see plenty of bad photos. Understanding why photos are bad is also helpful.
Your cellphone probably takes adequate photos, but buy a real camera. “Some cellphones have great cameras, but they’re a little more particular on lighting,” said Scott Einsmann, the ATA’s digital manager.
You don’t need to drop tons of cash on a professional-grade camera. Simpler cameras work fine. “Point-and-shoot cameras have a little larger sensor [than cellphone cameras], so they gather more light and are more forgiving in more lighting situations,” Einsmann said.
Once you have your camera, learn how to use its settings. Einsmann recommends watching YouTube tutorials to learn what those camera settings do. That’s especially important when taking photos under fluorescent lights. Einsmann warns that skin tones can look unnatural if the camera’s white balance is off.
Lighting is a vital factor in taking good photo, and it can get tricky for retailers who mostly work inside under harsh fluorescent lights. For best results, set up photos in your shop where the lighting is best. Shooting in natural light on an outdoor range, or where light comes through your windows usually ensures the best results.
When posting photos of your shop’s products, you’ll engage more customers if the pictures include people. “Photos showing someone using a product is more interesting than photos showing products on the shelf,” Einsmann said.
Dynamic action shots showcase your products in real time, giving them a personal connection. Photo Credit: ATA
Dynamic photos that demonstrate action can be popular. “If you can work out the camera settings and get an arrow leaving the bow, that’s a cool photo,” Einsmann said. “I recommend shooting those photos outdoors where you have lots of bright light. You need a quick shutter speed, which gathers less light, so the photos will come out better if there’s more ambient light.”
As you take your photo, pay attention to anything — or anyone — in the background. A couple of people talking in the background can be distracting, and ruin an otherwise strong photo.
Archery shops are notoriously cluttered. Tools, catalogs and paperwork usually cover horizontal surfaces. Many shops also hang calendars, banners and important notices on the walls. Those items are great for day-to-day operations, but they can make your shop look messy and disorganized in photos. Before snapping photos, move clutter so it won’t show up on camera.
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Give potential clientele a snapshot of what your business is all about. Photo Credit: ATA
Einsmann said it’s vital to understand how and why the photos will be used. Photos you post online should say something about your business. They should tell a story about you and what you do. “It’s really important for retailers to showcase their people and the services they offer,” Einsmann said. “Take pictures of your bow technician working on bows, someone interacting with a customer, or an archery coach teaching a group of people. Those types of photos are useful for marketing and in social media.”
Cameras don’t require film, so take lots of photos. “Just delete those you don’t like,” Einsmann said. “Don’t be afraid to fail. Try different stuff and see what you like. If it looks good to you, it probably looks good to others. Experiment with different angles.”
Still need help? ATA members can find professional photos, and educational materials, videos and other resources, through a new feature on the ATA’s website. Click here for more information.