The Power of a Picture
If you’re anything like the rest of the world, you may currently be finding yourself in a relatively unique situation; working from home, thinking of new ways through which to stay connected online, and putting ideas together for keeping things moving over the coming months.
But your ideas are only one piece of the puzzle. The next step and, arguably, the most important one, is to implement your ideas in the right ways; ways that help to keep momentum, grow your brand, or simply pique interest from your networks. In other words, execute a strong digital presence. And to do this, you need to think visual.
Why is the visual medium so important?
It’s simple: Images grab attention, and strong images keep attention.
The most engaging way to bring your network to your brand, your message or your product is through visual media. In fact, 82% of all internet traffic is now video based. We are attracted to the visual, and we are more likely to connect to strong, interesting and eye-catching images. Even alongside the second most useful way to reach your audience (blogging), people will engage on a much more pro-active level if accompanied by images. So how can you structure and implement engaging visual media with no pro kit and no photographer? Well, in a nutshell, you become the photographer, and your turn your phone or your camera into the ‘pro kit in your pocket.’
Picture Perfect – Where to Start
Most of us already have a mobile phone, the vast majority of which now have at least a half-decent camera. So, it’s likely that you may already have everything you need in a camera, right inside your pocket. But if you’re looking for something a little more professional, there are some top of the line options, many of which are quite affordable.
Some of the top-ranking mobile phones for photography include the iPhone 11 pro, the Google Pixel 4, the Huawei P30 Pro, Xiaomi Mi Note 10 and the Samsung Galaxy Note 10 Plus. These are classed as top of the range when it comes to camera phones because of the lens quality, multi-lens functionality and internal software which, amongst them, includes a range of options from filters, shutter speed, AI enhancement, aperture, macro settings, panoramic stitching, and so on.
The same goes for cameras. So, if you’re looking to invest, without all the high-tech that comes along with the smartphone price tag, a stand-alone camera may be the best option. There are some great, affordable cameras currently on the market that can offer some very effective settings for both beginners and pro photographers. For example, the Fujifilm X-A5 is on the market for as little as £298 and is described as the next step up from top of the line smartphone cameras. Or you could invest in a semi-professional set up with cameras such as the Panasonic Lumix range or Canon EOS Rebel SL3, ranging from £4-600. It all depends on what you’re looking for, and how many of the pro-functions you’re ready to put into action.
However, it must be said that you can still take a great photograph without all the bells and whistles of the most expensive of cameras and smartphones. All you need is a decent lens, some basic settings features and a little know-how.
Of course, a free photo editing app and a small tripod won’t hurt either. But let’s start with the basics.
Taking Photos in the Rule of Thirds
There is a bit of a science behind the success of a photograph. A photograph that is aesthetically appealing, or ‘pleasing to the eye’ will likely follow the rule of thirds. Along with effective lighting and colour, one of the most important things to consider is composition or, placement. This is where the rule of thirds plays an essential part. In simple terms, think of the image you see through the lens being broken down into a grid: 3 by 3, hence the term. Almost as if you’re drawing the lines for a game of noughts and crosses across the image. Now, it’s easy to frame the subject right at the centre of the grid. In fact, day to day, this is how most people would take a photograph. However, if you really want to catch attention, think off-centre. So, instead of smack-bang in the middle, place your subject in line with the cross points of your invisible grid.
By framing your main subject in line with the rule of thirds, be it an important feature of a new product, a patch of golden sand in a landscape, or a person amongst a scattered crowd, your audience is more likely to engage. The theory behind this is two-fold. One: your photo seems more naturally balanced rather than staged, and two: studies show that the eyes of the viewer more naturally land towards one of the cross-sections of the grid, drawing attention straight to the subject when framed in this way.
The beauty of having a decent camera or phone camera is, that many actually have an in-built setting, which lays the 3 by 3 grid across the image for you, so you can manoeuvre your frame to exactly the right place. Perfect!
The Finishing Touches
Here’s where you can get creative. Again, most smartphones with cameras will have filter options already installed, but you can easily download digital photo editing apps, with filters, for free. Play around with the editing software you either already have or choose. Does your photo’s message come across more boldly in greyscale, for example, or with a scaling vignette feature pulling focus to the subject?
What about lighting? You can set the mood using something as simple as a lamp, natural light through a window or, for smaller product shots, an affordable lightbox in which to frame your subject.
Think about background. Is your subject in a specific setting, or do you want to set it apart with a clean white, or black backdrop? This can be something as simple as a freshly ironed sheet or ‘dime-a-dozen’ piece of fabric.
Give it a Try.
The trick is to make use of the tools you already have at your disposal. So, if your camera is simply a standard smartphone, your tripod is a stack of books and a steady hand, and your lighting is a desk lamp and a window. Well, then you already have everything you need to get started.
So, what are you waiting for?