We’re focusing on visual content strategy and delivery at the moment, and now that we’ve given you some ideas about developing your own visual content strategy it’s time to think about creating your own images for the Web. Photos are particularly useful on the Web and shooting your own photos is well within technical and budget reach for most small business owners. Expectations about quality aren’t sky high for most sites and the rise of photo sharing on social networks has conditioned people to expect and appreciate the authentic feel of amateur photos. When your audience expects a more professional presentation, working with a professional photographer should be part of your game plan.
Using photos of you or other key team members on your website or blog (whether they are alone or interacting with others) can help create a more personal connection with readers. Here are some tips we share with clients who need photos for their sites, whether they plan to work with a pro or ask a friend to do their photography. You can use these photo tips to help you prepare for a video shoot as well since many of the issues still apply.
1. Make sure you have a calm, minimalist background for your shoot. Solid colors, attractive bookshelves, or plants all work well—the goal is to avoid visual distractions that take the viewer’s attention off of you.
2. If you are shooting indoors, use a room with windows if possible—natural indirect light works best for photos and will flatter you at the same time.
3. Watch out for reflections from glass, mirrors, and shiny surfaces in your shot. Look around before you set up, but don’t stop there. You’ll save yourself lots of aggravation by taking shots of your surroundings and checking them over before adding people.
4. Glasses may also create strange reflections in your shot—consider taking them off, cleaning them, or changing the angle of the shot if the reflections cause problems. If your vision is poor, you’ll probably squint a lot without glasses, so it may work better to leave them on and adjust the lighting.
5. Take shots of the same pose from different angles and review them right after to learn what flatters you most. If a friend is taking your picture, have them take some from a steep angle above you. It’s a supermodel secret that produces flattering shots almost every time.
6. Close-ups of faces look great on the Web—especially for social media/networking pictures. Beware the flash on close-ups; ambient light is far more flattering.
7. Dress to create contrast with your skin, hair, and environment (if possible) by wearing strong solid colors. Light skinned people should avoid very light backgrounds and dark skinned people should avoid very dark backgrounds as they may interfere with a clear view of your face. When in doubt, test it out.
8. Consider bringing at least one change of clothes so that you can take pictures in 2 or more outfits. If so, don’t forget to switch up your jewelry too.
9. If you know the colors in the room where you will shoot, do your best to create contrast with your clothes so that you don’t blend in with the furniture or walls.
10. Women, play up your eyes and wear heavier makeup on camera—especially if a flash will be needed. Yes, men may want to experiment with color too, add some mascara, or try tinted moisturizer as a safe choice for smoothing out skin tone while looking natural.
11. Right before a shot, have someone look you over to make sure that your hair and clothes are arranged properly. Bring a hand mirror along and check yourself before shots whenever possible, you’ll feel more confident if you can see for yourself.
12. Smile! Practice beforehand in the mirror if you can stand it—big smiles, partial smiles, whatever feels comfortable and helps you look good.
Do you have more tips to share? Leave a comment and let us know.