Oh Snap! Taking Better Photos with Your Smartphone
Let us not forget, photos sell product.
We're all consumers, right? We usually buy with our eyes. But we're also business owners and let's be honest, we don't always have the budget to hire a photographer or the time to take the perfect pictures with a fancy camera.
Enter "Photography For Farmers," a workshop designed by All Ag Media in collaboration with Melissa Barrick Photography. The purpose was to have a practical, hands-on workshop that taught farmers (and small business owners) how to take better photos using their smartphone.
Visuals are an essential part of communication. Especially when you're communicating through online mediums like your website and social media.
There are three basic things you need to know:
- Lighting is everything
- Changing perspective makes all the difference
- Context matters
During the workshop, Melissa emphasized the importance of lighting. Natural light is always best. If you can shoot your products outdoors, that's great. If you're stuck inside, shoot near a window.
When you're taking photos on your smartphone, tap the screen to focus the camera on the subject. This will initiate auto focus and if you tap and hold, you can lock the focus in on the subject.
Photography hack: Watch what you're wearing. Wearing bright colors like a red shirt can reflect back onto your subject. This might be OK if you're taking pictures of tomatoes. But if the subject is a bunch of white anemones, the red shirt might distort the image.
We practiced taking photos on simple white foam board. You can pick this up at any office goods store or order it online. It's cheap, lightweight and can slip easily behind your seat in the truck. Using a second piece of foam board (or even something simple like a roll of paper towels) can also help you reflect light back on the subject and reduce shadows.
Photography tools don't have to be expensive or complicated. Think outside the box!
One of the best ways to increase engagement with your photographs is to show your audience a unique perspective. When you're taking pictures, don't be afraid to move around. Shooting products at 90° angles is best so you don't distort the image.
Flat lays have been a popular photography trend, especially in food photography. To capture these, style your product on a flat surface and then stand directly over top to take the picture. Watch for shadows, though.
Also, remember to pay attention to what's in the background. You want your audience to focus on the product and not be distracted by something they can see off in the distance. Move and orient yourself so that you have a non distracting background or use props like foam board, barn siding, or a blank wall.
Photography hack: Don't forget that you can also move your camera. You can take photos in portrait mode (vertical) or landscape (horizontal). You can also turn the phone upside down so the camera lens is lower. This can also change the perspective of the image.
"A picture paints a thousand words," isn't just a cliché. There's a lot of truth there. The visual is what captures people's attention. And pictures tell a story. Melissa says it's important to give your subject context that is interesting and relatable.
Successful brands are successful storytellers. They've learned to master the skills of photojournalism. Focus on your audience and try to connect with them. Does your farm have a CSA? Chances are, your customers want to know things like what they're getting each week and ideas for what to do with it. Don't just take pictures of vegetables, take pictures of food with your vegetables.
And don't forget to take pictures of yourself! People connect with the people behind brands. Invest in a tripod for your smartphone or check out these cool bluetooth clickers that can help you capture photo (and video!) of yourself in action.
Photography hack: Captions are key. Wait, what does this have to do with photography? Pretty much everything. You can get likes on good photos, but you'll drive up engagement if you get better at writing captions.
How do you do that? For starters, take at least the same amount of time writing a caption as you do trying to capture the perfect shot. Write something that connects with an emotion. Don't be afraid to use humor. And it's ok to borrow someone else's words -- great quotes are caption gold.
But just like with your photos, mix things up. Don't use the same style caption over and over. And add in emojis and hashtags to further increase engagement and reach new audiences.
Go Shoot Something!
Telling that to a group of farmers may get mixed results...
But the main takeaway is to get out there and experiment. It's ok to take to many photos. You can always delete them (unless you're like me and then you can just pay for extra cloud storage...$9.99 per month for a terabyte...totally worth it).
I want to see all of your amazing pictures! Tag me in them @allagmedia or add my hashtag #allagmedia.
Until next time, remember...#beamazing
All the people who made the first "Photography for Farmers" a success:
The participants...you all were incredible
Melissa Barrick of Melissa Barrick Photography...I couldn't have dreamed of a better instructor
Gwynn Novak of No Thyme to Cook...for making sure we were all well fed
My mother in law...for the chocolate cake...because a party without cake is just a meeting, after all
Catalina Devore...for capturing the awesome behind the scenes shots
And Anjelica Eitel...my side kick and unsung hero making sure things ran smoothly