Our world has become increasingly visual and no matter which business we want to promote, there is no way around aesthetically pleasing experiences. This competition, especially on social media, can be intimidating at first. But with the right tips and some practice you can also create beautiful pictures for your business. Let me share how I taught myself to get better at photography for my own business.
Step 1: Learn from the Best
As you may know, my first start-up was a fitness app. For the app itself, I worked with professional photographers, videographers and models. It was right before the big wave on social media where people like you and me started to film themselves while working out. I wanted to create a professional brand in which people would trust. Hence, I opted for a professional – and expensive – shoot. Nevertheless, I still think it was worth it. Maybe I could have managed to shoot the photos and videos for a bit cheaper. However, these shootings allowed me to learn a lot from professionals.
As I worked in a completely different field before, it was the first time for to be on a set. I closely watched the instructions the team had for the models. I also learned that investment in location and high-quality props is essential. We may think that pictures can be edited so much that we should not worry about the details. But the overall image has to be perfect – then you can still make it even more perfect by editing it. Furthermore, light is key. Our first shooting day was not a completely sunny summer day, it actually was quite cloudy. But this turned out to be better for the lighting of our videos – with our light equipment, we managed to have a uniform light concept for every video and picture.
Step 2: Recreate and Find Your Own Style
The app also involved a lot of editorial content online around fitness-, beauty-, health- and food-related topics. It was the first time when I discovered colourful smoothies or bowls decorated with flowers. I knew we were competing with an incredible amount of beautiful pictures. My co-founder who contributed the creative side to the business taught me to work with moodboards. I searched Instagram for the best trending and most beautiful smoothies and tried to recreate them. I have to admit, the first ones did not look at all like the ones on Instagram. At this point in time, I was not yet familiar with editing. And I did not have my own lighting equipment. But I kept practicing and tried to add my personal touch.
Step 3: Equipment
A lot of people think that good pictures require expensive equipment. But this is not the case. I have met so many photographers who shoot everything on their phones – even long videos. My tip is to start small. Practice with your phone and once you have more experience you can upgrade. It is then also easier to buy the right equipment for your needs.
I got a camera two years ago – a compact one which works for photographs and filming. Before, I used to borrow a DSLR but apart from the price point, I do not really like to lug the equipment around while travelling. And then I just started to take more pictures. I experimented with different angles and lights and I also frequently use my phone.
I did invest in a small home studio for taking product pictures. I bought professional photo lights and I use a foldable tripod. Furthermore, I made my own backgrounds using nice paper or other materials. (Maybe I can write another post about my home studio if you are interested?)
Step 4: Preparation Is Key
Before every shoot, I make a small mood board with photos which inspire me. I try to merge all the aspects I like and then look for the props I need to take the picture. Be smart with the props – you can spend a lot on gagdets. I try to plan out multiple shoots and re-use all the materials.
Step 4: Editing
The sad truth is that 99% of pictures we see online are (heavily) edited. I sometimes wonder if people still find reality and natural pictures aesthetically interesting. I try to keep my pictures as natural as possible. However, even a natural look needs a bit of editing. There are hundreds of ways to edit, I have been working with the Adobe Creative Suite for years now and still love it.
I started to work with Photoshop about five years ago with very simple editing and design. As I started to illustrate and paint as well, I got more comfortable getting better with the programme and also ventured into Adobe Illustrator.
For my pictures, I used Youtube tutorials to learn about Lightroom. I did try other online apps such as VSCO. But so far, I found the Desktop version of Lightroom the best. There is so much content out there by amazing creators who share their tips for free. Just make use of it.
Step 5: Keep Practicing
I will never be a professional photographer. And I still know that my pictures are not perfect yet. But my goal is not to become a professional – it is to be able to have the freedom to take some pictures myself if I need to.
I taught myself how to shoot pictures for two reasons: Firstly, to be independent and shoot when and where I want to shoot. (And also save some money, of course.) Secondly, I want to understand my business partners from the creative field better. If I have done it myself, I know what they are talking about. I know if and how we can bring a picture to live and how to communicate effectively. It contributes to more fruitful partnerships. I can only recommend to get familiar with photography – at least with the basics. It will make your life easier.
Therefore, I keep practicing. As I have my phone with me most of the time, I try to pay more attention and take more pictures. Apart from helping my business, this allows me to see details and places which I would have probably not noticed otherwise.
Do you like this type of content? Should I share more about my advice and behind the scenes of a start-up? Let me know, I look forward to hearing from you!