Tips for getting the best photos for your website and social media

By Claudia Young, Writing Intern (and professional photographer)

In the midst of business startup costs, it’s hard to justify hiring a photographer to take your social media and website photos for you. While the outcome would be professional and beautiful, sometimes it’s just not in the budget in the beginning.

If you’re needing some new photos but can’t justify the cost, here are a few tips on how to take quality photos, even with little to no professional gear.

Natural light is your friend

Find a naturally lit window or go outside. Steer clear of harsh direct lighting because it can cause glares and weird shadows. If you’re outside, find some shade and get to work. Whether you’re needing new headshots or are taking photos of your products, the indirect natural light will help boost the quality of your photos. If possible, stay away from dark, artificial lighting because it will make your photos grainier.

Create more than just a “cell phone shot”

Cell phone shots are usually taken at eye level and not much thought is put into them. Play around with different angles. Get up close, come from above or below, and see what you can create! If your business has a lot of customer interaction (e.g. a restaurant), take some photos with people in them (with their consent, of course) to show your audience what your business is really like. Variety is key! If your photos all look similar, it’s time to change things up.

Make sure all of your photos make sense for your business

Try to stay away from stock photos if at all possible. These photos are generic and won’t tell your audience anything about your business. For example, if you’re searching for an image for your dentistry’s Services page, don’t just use a photo of someone smiling or a photo of a toothbrush. Take a quality photo of the dentist helping a patient. This will help your audience connect with you.

Don’t apply dated filters on your images

Edit your photos as naturally as possible. Instead of adding filters to your images, play with the contrast, exposure, highlights, shadows, and temperature to achieve the look you’re going for. If you do this, you’ll be able to use these photos down the road as well instead of going back and seeing how dated your image looks.

If adding text to your image, use professional-looking fonts

Have you ever seen a business use whimsical fonts on their photos? It’s an easy way to lose credibility on a first impression. If the font could be used on a school flyer, don’t use it. A great rule of thumb is to see what fonts your industry leaders are using and take notes from them.

If you’re lucky, you might have a photographer friend who can help you out with this process. But if you don’t, you can still create great images! Come up with a few ideas, take some photos, and see what needs to be improved from there. And whenever you do have it in your budget, hire a photographer or advertiser to help you out.