As photographer Chase Jarvis once said, ‘The best camera is the one you have with you.’ You don’t need a fancy camera and lens to get great photos. If you don’t have the budget for a professional photographer, a few tips will have you on the way to snapping good photos with your trusty cameraphone.
The key to any photo is the light. You don’t need elaborate lighting setups; a simple window will do. Set your subject up next to a window and have a play around with the positioning to see how the light changes. Try holding up some white cardboard opposite the window to fill in any shadows and see how that changes the image.
Make sure you don’t have any other lights on in the room, as this can mess up the colour of your image and create unwanted shadows.
If you are shooting a portrait, try going outside at different times of day. For example, at dusk the light is soft and the colour can be lovely.
Whether you are shooting a portrait or a product, think about the angles you are photographing from. Try a few variations—above, below, from the side—and see what looks best for your subject. Keep an eye on how the light changes with each different angle.
You want your subject to be the main focus of your image. A distracting or messy background will confuse the viewer and take away from your subject, Your background should complement the subject, and also be appropriate for where and how the image will be used. If you are shooting products for a website, do you want a plain white background? Can you play around with some coloured backgrounds? Plain cardboard can make an excellent seamless background for product shots. It is cheap, easy to find and can be stuck to a wall.
Have a think about what you want to portray in the photo and then choose a background to support your vision. If you are photographing a portrait, what kind of portrait is it? Do you want to show the environment the person works in or is it a headshot that would be best with a plain background?
Do some research
Youtube is a treasure-trove of tutorials, and sites like Adorama.com and CreativeLive.com also have hundreds of how-to videos. If you are likely to be doing a lot of photography for your business, consider taking a workshop with a professional. This will get you well on your way to capturing great images for your business on a budget.
Most importantly, have fun!
Amanda Shackleton is a Melbourne-based emerging photographer with a focus on documentary-style imagery. She is currently exploring the relationship between people and their smartphones. To learn more about Amanda, visit her website or Facebook page, or follow her on Instagram (@amandashackletonphotography/).
Photography by Amanda Shackleton