I will always suggest getting professional photography when it comes to your business. Having someone who knows all about lighting, composition, editing and high-quality photos will save you more time than you could possibly imagine. It’s an investment that will continue to help your business grow. However, if you’re a new business or simply are determined to try things for yourself, there are a few things you should know first.
The very basics of camera settings come down to ISO, aperture and shutter speed. The ISO (International Standards Organization) is the sensitivity of your film. While most people don’t use actual film anymore, it’s better said that it’s the sensitivity to light. If you are in broad daylight your ISO will be at a very low number such as 150-200. When you are photographing in darker rooms like inside a building with no natural light you might shoot at something more like 1200. And when you are shooting at night in a really dark environment you could hit an ISO of 6400. The thing to remember with ISO is the higher the ISO the more “grainy” your photos will be. This just means that you’ll see more little dots and lose some sharpness in your images.
Aperture and Shutter Speed
Your aperture and shutter are very much like your eye. The aperture is similar to the pupil letting in light and the shutter is like your eyelid blinking. The wider your aperture the more light you’ll let in making the image brighter. Apertures will range in the numbers of 1.8-16F (or somewhere around there.) The smaller the number the larger the opening is. Shutter speed, on the other hand, is how fast the shutter is moving to let in light. If you are at 1/120 sec. then you’re shutter is moving a lot slower then when it’s at 1/1600 sec.
In broad daylight you’ll often want a smaller aperture or a faster shutter speed to not overexpose your image. How you’ll decide which to choose is dependent on what you want for a depth of field. If you want to be able to see everything in the background you’ll want a smaller aperture (higher number) and slower shutter speed (lower number). However, if you want the background to be blurred then you’ll want a wider aperture (lower number) and a faster shutter speed (higher number.)
What we often don’t think about in our day to day life is the color of light that surrounds us. Our eyes easily adjust to the lighting to fix color issues but there are still moments we can see it. When you see a white piece of paper during the sunset it might have more of an orange tint to it, however right after sunset, it might start to look blue, while at lunchtime it looks perfectly white. This is white balance. The type and quality of light will change the way we perceive it and capture it. Most digital cameras have great auto white balance and for the most part, you can just use these. However, if you have a DSLR camera you can adjust the Kelvin of your camera to get an exact white balance match. Broad daylight is 5,000K while sunset is 2500K. When you’re in the shade it’s a cooler color and therefore your white balance will be 7500K and if your shoot just after sunset you’ll be around 4,000K. Most of these settings you can just google and get pretty accurate white balance adjustments for every occasion. (Just remember warmer colors means lower number and cooler colors means higher number).
This is a huge one. Your light will make all the difference when it comes to your photographs. You could spend years studying light and how it changes an image (that’s basically what I do for a living). However, to keep things very simple for you, my number one suggestion is to use natural light. Set up your photos near a window so that the light coming in will be soft and perfect. If the sun directly comes through the window, stand back so it’s not actually in the image. Direct sunlight will provide harsh light and intense shadows. You’re most likely looking for soft and flattering light. Using white walls, white poster board or even white fabric to reflect light onto your product or subject will help in brightening things up and evenly lighting it.
While this doesn’t even begin to cover all that goes into photography, specifically composition and really creating a compelling image, it’s a start. Try out these new setting experimenting with them to see what happens. The great thing about not working on film is that you can try a million different things and it doesn’t waste or cost you extra. If you find that trying to make strong images just isn’t your thing or something you’d rather outsource then I’m here to help in whatever capacity you’re looking for. Whether you need a full stylized shoot to show off your products in action, some basic product shots for your website or a few images to use again and again on social media and your website, we’ll work together to develop your perfect package. Photography has a big impact on your business and brand. Test the waters, see what you can do and where you can save, and invest on the rest! I’ll be here for you when you’re ready.