It’s no secret that one of the key factors in running a successful content marketing strategy is to feature exceptional visuals that draw in the reader and evoke certain emotions and actions. And since custom photography is the way to go, you might as well learn how to take your own stunning pictures.
Customer photography: your best option for visual content
The human brain is naturally drawn to visual content. Not only does the brain process images significantly faster than text, but it also experiences heightened emotions – emotions that often lead to action.
Among other things, research shows that placing images in blog posts decreases bounce rate, increases social media shares, and generates more inbound traffic from social networking sites like Facebook.
As a content marketer, you know images are aesthetically pleasing and highly effective, but the process of actually sourcing them is what frustrates you. While it can seem like you have dozens of options, you ultimately only have three choices:
- Free stock photos. Your first option for visual content is also the worst: stock photos. Stock photos are generic, cookie cutter images that do little more than take up space. They water down your brand and often lead to confusion among readers.
- Licensed images. The next option is good, but can be costly. In order to use licensed images – such as royalty free images – you have to pay a fee. Some websites ask you to pay per picture, while others let you purchase a subscription fee and use as many images as you want.
- Custom photography. Finally, you always have the option of taking your own pictures and sprinkling them in with your content marketing. This is technically “free,” but obviously requires some legwork on your part.
While there might not be a perfect solution, custom DIY photography is the most cost-effective option. It also ensures relevancy, since you get to choose the subject matter (rather than attempting to find something online that fits your post).
6 beginner photography tips
People spend their careers perfecting their photography skills, but you don’t need any formal schooling to get started. The pictures don’t need to be good enough for an art gallery – they simply need to enhance your blog. And while practice makes perfect, the following tips will prove helpful.
1. Get the right camera
For someone who doesn’t know a whole lot about photography, having the right camera can make a world of difference. You don’t need a fancy camera with lots of gadgets either. Honestly, the quality on today’s phones is so great that you could probably get away with a top of the line smartphone – like the iPhone X, Google Pixel 2 XL, Samsung Galaxy Note 8, HTC U11, or LG V30. The standard settings on these phones are so good that you can take high-quality photos out of the box.
2. Lighting is everything
In photography, lighting is one of the most important factors – regardless of what you’re shooting. If you spend time studying any aspect of photography, invest your energy into figuring out how to get the perfect lighting.
“The narrower the source, the harder the light. A broad light source lessens shadows, reduces contrast, suppresses texture,” Dan Richards writes for Popular Photography. “A narrow light source does the opposite. This is because, with a broad source, light rays hit your subject from more directions, which tends to fill in shadows and give more even illumination to the scene.”
3. Understand the rule of thirds
Are you familiar with the rule of thirds? It’s a pretty basic photography concept and the composition of your images will be far better if you follow it.
“The rule states to break the image down into thirds vertically and horizontally, looking like a grid, and within this grid the four intersections of the grid are where the points of interest should be,” CCTV Camera World explains in this blog post. “The idea is that by placing the points of interest at the intersection that the photo becomes more interesting and balanced.”
4. Take lots of pictures
One of the greatest advantages you have today (compared to photographers in previous decades) is that you don’t have to worry about cost. Whereas photographers used to limit the number of shots they took because of limited film, you can snap hundreds – even thousands – of images before you fill up your memory card. And once you fill it up, you can go back and delete unwanted pictures to free up space.
When taking pictures for a blog post, take as many as you want. Snap images from different angles, play around with lighting, adjust settings – do whatever your heart desires! It’s always better to have more images than you want than to fail to get the pictures you need.
5. Watermark your images
One of the biggest benefits of utilizing customer photography and integrating these images into your content marketing is that it allows you to share on social networking platforms like Pinterest. Having said that, this sort of exposure also opens you up to being taken advantage of. That’s why many professionals watermark their images.
Watermarking is simply your way of saying, “This is my photo.” If someone else uses the image without your permission, it’ll be obvious to anyone who sees it. Here’s a good guide on how to watermark pictures.
6. Simplify the editing process
Editing is often viewed as a necessary evil for amateur photographers, but you’ll find it a whole lot easier if you streamline the process.
“I would say that honing my editing process has been almost as important as the actual photo-taking process,” blogger Abby Lawson explains. “I started out by editing in PicMonkey, which worked well for me for a long time. I then took the time to learn Photoshop, and again, it was a total game changer. Advanced programs like Photoshop and Lightroom can seem intimidating, but once you have your process down, you can basically do the same thing for every photo and soon it becomes second nature.”
Let visual content set your brand apart
The world of content marketing and digital marketing is becoming more visual by the day. While your textual content won’t become obsolete overnight, you do need to shift some of your attention towards visual mediums. Learning how to capture stunning photography for your content will give you something to fall back on as the marketing industry continues to evolve.