Do you think of your photos as being part of your branding? Most people don’t unless it’s an image that’s actively stamped with a brand name. But good brands have a consistent aesthetic to their photography that followers (and potential clients) identify unconsciously.
That’s all very well if you’re a multinational with a dedicated marketing department and a budget of millions, you’re probably thinking. But, the good news is that technology is advancing so rapidly, it’s hard for people to tell smartphone photos from professional studio shots.
You might not make the cover of National Geographic anytime soon, but with a few nudges and tips, you can significantly improve your health coach brand photography. And best of all, the solution is probably in your hand as you read this.
Here’s how to create amazing brand photos with just your mobile phone!
#1 Create a Moodboard
If you have minimal photography experience, start at the beginning by familiarising yourself with the essence of branding photography. Create a mood board of photos that catch your attention – positively or otherwise or that you feel encompasses your brand.
Hint: Sometimes knowing what you don’t want is an excellent way to find out what you do want. Look at your competitors’ photos, brands you like, stock photo sites, and magazines.
Categorise your photos into the different moods or messages you feel they convey. Match them to your brand. Check-in with some other people to see if they understand the same things you do from the images. Rework things until you’re happy you have a clear guideline on what you want from your health coach brand photos.
Remember: these are the photos you’ll be using on your website, social media, documentation, and even services, so take as much time as you need!
#2 Create a Style Guide
This sounds very technical, but keep it simple. Based on the photos of your mood board, consider the following:
- Composition and Context – how people and objects are positioned in photos give a context to the viewer. What story do you want to tell?
- People – what people will you use? Think about your target audience: their age, gender, ethnicity, income, etc. How can the imagery in your photo connect with them?
- Environment – how will you create consistency in the location and lighting of your photos?
- Colour Palette – what are your brand colours? How will you use them in your brand photos? Will you use neutral backgrounds to make them stick out?
- Technical specs – list the sizes and resolutions you need for the different platforms.
- Fonts – what fonts will you use in addition to your brand font (if you have one)?
- Logo position – if you are going to use your logo in photos, where will you position it for consistency?
Top Tip: Positioning your logo bottom right of your photos will prevent it detracting from the image but still be in the viewers’ frame of vision.
#3 Use the Highest Resolution
Now we get to the photos themselves! Generally, the higher the resolution, the better your photos will look, so always select the highest resolution possible for your photos. And always try to use the rear-facing camera and tripod for shots of yourself, rather than taking a selfie with the front camera, where the resolution offered is generally lower (on the basis that you’ll be holding the phone closer to your face.)
High-resolution photos require storage space and will mean you need to store your albums off your device. Use cloud-based photo-sharing apps like Picasa, Flickr, and Dropbox. Or, buy high capacity micro-SD or SD cards if you prefer to store photos on your phone (but check your phone is compatible first.)
Top Tip: Never use the zoom function on your camera – it compromises image quality. Instead, get closer to your subject.
#4 Shoot in Natural Light
As far as possible, try to avoid using your flash. Phone camera flashes often result in red-eye and washed-out looking images. This is because their flashes are LED lights, not real flashlights. LED lighting is too bright and too slow to be effective as a flash. Instead, try to take advantage of natural light for your photos, preferably outside or near a window.
- When using natural light, choose your time of day carefully to create the mood you want. Weather also plays a significant role, and oddly enough, overcast days can make for some fabulous health coach brand photos.
- You can also control lighting with white “bounce boards” that help minimise strong shadows and create a more balanced lighting environment. They are typically made of foam, but any white board that reflects light will do.
- When the sunlight is too harsh, you can use diffuser sheets to soften the light. You can purchase them or make one with parchment paper or a frosted shower curtain.
Top Tip: Where you have to rely on internal lighting, opt for white instead of yellow light. The latter can give a yellow tone to your subject (which doesn’t do any favours to your face.)
#5 Use Gridlines to Apply the “Rule of Thirds”
Use the “Rule of Thirds” compositional guideline to make your photos balanced and better composed.
You will find gridlines as an option under your phone’s settings. Use the two horizontal and two vertical gridlines to split your subject matter into nine equal parts (3×3). Place your horizon in the bottom or top third of your grid and make sure it’s straight. Then position your essential elements on any one of the gridlines to create an interesting focal point.
Top tip: Look at these examples of the “Rule of Thirds” for some ideas.
#6 Invest in a Tripod
Yes, you get tripods for phones! A tripod will do away with camera shake and helps standardise photo angles and style. A tripod will help you take shots and videos that just aren’t possible with a handheld phone. These include long exposure shots, low-light shots, and zoom-in videos where the slightest movement can ruin the video. You can also have tripods with a remote that allow you to get the perfect timing or be in the shot at the same time.
Tripods come in a wide variety of options and price points:
- Traditional tripods typically have collapsible legs and are made of plastic, carbon fibre, or aluminium. Ones explicitly designed for social media can include lighting and sound attachments.
- Flexible mini-tripods can wrap around just about anything to hold your phone while you do your thing – be even abseiling!
- Tabletop tripods (tablepods) are for flat surfaces and may not even have legs. these can be an excellent starting point but, honestly, they are quite restrictive long-term when you want to experiment with your shots!
#7 Clean Your Lens
This may seem too obvious to mention, but whereas conventional cameras have lens covers to protect their lenses from dirt and scratches, your mobile doesn’t. It’s carried in your pocket or handbag and continually in contact with the oils released through your fingers. Carry a microcloth and lens cleaning fluid with you, or buy disposable lens cleaning wipes as dirt on the lenses can create a grainy effect.
#8 Use a Photo-Editing App
Smartphones come with their photo-editing software, but nothing is stopping you from upgrading. There are hundreds of great photo-editing apps out there, some of them even free.
Here are a few of our favourite photo-editing apps:
- TouchRetouch can delete obstructions and remove blemishes with a quick tap. You don’t even have to be very specific – just swipe on an area, and the software will suggest the changes it thinks are needed for you to approve.
- Carbon turns your colour photos into black and white images. But not just any black and white – their monochrome filters are out of this world.
- Snapseed is a free editor that offers more than many paid applications. There are tutorials and instructions for novices.
- Lightroom CC is Abobe’s free phone camera app. It removes blemishes, allows standard editing and fancier editing through in-app purchases.
- VSCO Cam is perfect for sorting out problems of distortion related to perspective.
- Enlight offers all the standard editing tools and also allows you to blend images, add text, and much more.
While the latest smartphones are well-equipped to take amazing photos, a couple of inexpensive extras to help cope with light will be money well spent. And what you can’t correct upfront, you can do with a good photo-editing app afterwards.
Producing great brand photos won’t happen overnight. But practice and diligent adherence to your style guide will reward you down the line.
If you need a hand figuring out which health coach brand photos give off the right vibe for your business, get in touch!