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  • Judith Davison

Top tips for taking photos

Updated: Jul 24

Want to take interesting, professional-looking photos for your small business but your budget doesn't stretch to a professional photographer? There’s lot of helpful tips out there for small business owners to help get the most engaging photographs whether they are to post on facebook or a product shot to send to a client. In this blog, we cover three of the most helpful (and achievable for the layman photographer!). Start to make these three tips a habit and you will see your photos shine in no time.

1. Rule of 1/3s….. what the?

Okay, so this is all about composing your photo and where your subject should be in the photo. In the centre, yes? No! The basic principle behind the rule of thirds is to imagine breaking an image down into thirds (both horizontally and vertically) so that you have 9 parts. The subject or main focus of the photo should appear on one of these lines.


Why you might ask? Well, the science and theory behind this rule dates back as far as 1797 and has to do with the balance of light vs dark. The simple reason is using the rule of thirds draws the viewer's eye into the composition, instead of just glancing at the centre. Have a look at these great examples.


This photo shows how the the Rule of 1/3s looks as a grid

The subject is in the lower right part of the grid.

In the centre yes? But look where the bird's eye is.

However, rules are sometimes meant to be broken! For example, these shots below work perfectly because they are centred!


The road is dead centre and the horizon is ... um 2/5ths!

If you are going centre, make sure it's bang on! Love this.

Confused yet?! My tip would be start with your composition in line with the rule of 1/3s then centre if you need - at the very least you have given the composition some thought and are already on your way to a great photo!

2. Landscape vs portrait vs square

Give some thought to the primary purpose of your photo. Often clients will send through great photos to include in their social media plan however once they have been cropped into the ideal shape for a particular platform, they have lost their spark. This is particularly the case with square photos for Instagram. And if you are shooting for print - which way will they be displayed? Landscape is wider that it is taller and vertical is taller that it is wider. Square is square!


The image is shot in landscape orientation. It is wider than it is tall.

Same photo cropped into portrait - different feel.

A client sent me this great photo in landscape orientation.....

...to be used on the front cover of a portrait brochure.

3. Pay attention to your background

Even though the subject of your photo is the primary focus, make sure to pay some attention to your background before you shoot. Would a light or dark background work best? Check there are no random objects in the background that are not part of your brand. Recently we found a photo in a client’s photo gallery that at first glance was a great reflection of their brand. When we asked why they don’t use it more, they pointed out in the background the wall paper in the corner was peeling off (fortunately a little photoshopping fixed this particular problem this time).


Great background: matching colour, clean, interesting

Dark background gives full spotlight to the product

To finish....

So think about these three top tips - rule of 1/3s, shape of your photo, background - to get you on the right path to taking great photos. This blog has been written in context of taking photos of your daily operations, social media content and smaller marketing jobs. For big projects, such as your website or a big brochure print, it's worth budgeting for a professional photographer.

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