Tips for using your Smartphone to take images for your Website.
Gone are the days that you need professional camera equipment to take great images for your website. Your smartphone together with its built-in editing apps is totally up for the task. Having said that, you still need to follow the basic principles of photo composition as it is not just a case of aim and shoot. Let me explain.
You will need to spend time planning and setting up the shot so consider what you would like the end result to be. For example, when planning your landing page image, you must decide if (or where) you want to place the text. Background or negative spaces around the subject are ideal for this as the text won’t obstruct the focal point of the image. The negative spaces or background area around the subject provide good contrast which enable the subject and text to stand out.
To help you with the composition of photographs it is advised that you use the rule of thirds. Turn on the gridlines on your phone which will divide the image in horizontal and vertical thirds. Ensure that the middle of your subject lines up with one of the vertical lines and the horizon with one of the horizontal lines. This brings balance to the image and creates a more natural feel as it allows your eyes to explore the image, while keeping the focus on the subject matter.
Most phones will allow you to tap on subject which locks the focus on that specific point. This feature will then sharpen the image on the subject and may even slightly blur the negative spaces. This creates contrast allowing the subject to stand out better and with more drama.
If you are the person representing the business for example an interior designer, personal trainer, chef or freelancer it is helpful for your clients to see an image of you on the homepage of your website, as it personalises the service which builds trust with your clients. Try to get the person in the shot to relax and smile as this sets the mood of the image. Take the shot from the same eye level as the subject. If this shot is outdoors don’t let the background horizon intersect the head.
You will start to develop an understanding of light and how this effects the image. Use natural light where possible, not direct sunlight as the shadows can be too harsh. For indoor shots try to place your subject next to a window and allow the natural sunlight to light up the subject. Try not to use a flash for indoor images as this can overexpose the image. The best use of a flash is for outdoor images but you need to be aware of the effective range and not over or under exposing the subject.
For outdoor shots the best light is early morning or late afternoon, also called the golden hour as the light is much softer. More adventurous photographers can experiment with the advanced settings of shutter speed, aperture and ISO to control the amount of light to see how this influences the image. Try to create a depth of field for outdoor images, this shows the scale of the background as it gives the impression that the observer is with you in the photograph.
Always remember to turn your phone on its side to take landscape orientated images as the internet favours landscape over portrait orientation. It also makes the website images more constant especially if you are using a gallery for your images.
To enhance interest in the image try to take the photograph from an unexpected perspective or position; try taking a shot from close to the ground by lying down like this railway line shot or looking upward at the trees or downwards from the top of a staircase. Experiment to see what works, many photographers use natural objects to frame the subject for example taking the shot through a door or a window and leaving the door or window frame edges in the image which creates contrast and interest as it starts to tell a story about the image. Similarly, an outdoor shot can be framed by trees, buildings or any physical object. Many award winning photographs have used reflections such a puddles, mirror or even reflection off sunglasses to bring interest to the shot. The more you practise the easier these principles will come naturally to you.
Try not to zoom in with a Smartphone as it makes the image grainy, rather move closer to the subject and use the super macro setting meaning the number of pixels will be maintained which gives you more scope to edit the image at a later stage. You should familiarise yourself with all the functions of your phone and remember to clean the lens before you start your session.
From our experience, it is best to send the original image files as separate attachments rather than imbedding them into a word document or email as this reduces the size and therefore the quality of the image.
I hope this has been useful, remember the better quality images you send us the more powerful your website will be. Thanks for watching so as always remember WE ARE HERE TO HELP