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Do I Need to Be a Pro Photographer for My Business?

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I have been a photographer since I was 17. Being the son of a photographer, it seemed like a natural progression. And since my start in photography, the landscape of the art and medium has changed significantly; primarily, cameras have gotten cheaper than ever before, and they are performing better than ever before.

This is something that truly excites me in marketing. Small businesses are more capable than ever to craft beautiful imagery for their website, social media, and marketing campaigns. But do you need to be a professional photographer with thousands and thousands of dollars of camera equipment to take effective photos for your business? The short of this whole blog is no, but let’s talk about why and important things to keep in mind when taking photos for your business.

The photos you will see below were taken on an iPhone 11 Pro and a Sony A7III with a Sigma 35mm Art lens. The iPhone is always on the left side of the image. The iPhone images were edited exclusively on the stock photos app and shot in portrait mode. The Sony a7III was edited in Adobe Lightroom Classic and edited using my personal presets. 

Get Creative

First, let’s take a look at these photos side by side. 

This photo on both cameras is rather boring. There is not any real texture or depth or anything visually interesting. For a lot of industries, this works, and we see it time and time again with products on white backgrounds, etc, but how can we make this just a hair more interesting. 

book sitting on white backdropbook sitting on white backdrop

Here you can see by just adding a simple light underneath the book we add an extra level of depth and interest to the image, but how can we add another level of interest to the photo?

book on backdrop with light underneathbook2

Here again, we have a simple concept for a photo. This is just a book sitting on a coffee table, but we have added a very organic element to the scene. This book would probably sit on a coffee table so it can be picked up and looked through. We have also added the extra depth using that harsh highlight and shadow, making the scene even more interesting. 

book on wooden tablebook on wooden table

Here we have taken the book one more place that would help give it some context and we are showing off another element of the product by shooting it from a different perspective. This way we are able to see the spine of the book and again give the photo depth and interest.

book on bookshelfbook on bookshelf

Do I need an expensive camera?

Book sitting on wicker basket with plant in foregroundBook sitting on wicker basket with plant in foreground

You can be the judge based on these images if you think you need an expensive camera for your business or not. Often we can craft excellent images with the camera we always have on us. Our smartphones are more than capable these days, and they will continue to be even better. These photos you just saw were taken on an already outdated smartphone (2 years old at the time of writing this). 

Now, as you can see there are differences in the images. One reason for that is I did not take them perfectly lined up on a tripod. Second, is that these are very different cameras. My iPhone is designed to obviously be more than just a camera and the other is a professional-level mirrorless camera that I use for almost all of my professional photography work.  However, we can do great work with the gear we have on us.

Some things to keep in mind to take your smartphone photography to the next level:

  1. Use natural light when available. The smartphone does noticeably better with getting colors accurate and not being too grainy when you have ample natural light.
  2. Use “Portrait Mode” or similar modes when available. It helps to generate that cool out-of-focus effect that we see heavily in professional-level camera kits.
  3. Give your photos context. Show your product in elements you would probably find it in, ie, a book on a coffee table.
  4. Get creative! Try new things, get abstract, be weird. You never know what will work until you try it. 
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