10 tips to help you take better project photos
10th November 2017
You’ve finished a great installation and you want to get some pictures of it. If you get some good ones they’ll go on your website. If they’re really good they can be used for adverts or brochures. But you haven’t got a lot of time, the weather’s not great and your photos never seem to look quite as good as you’d hoped.
Sound familiar? Probably, because it’s the same for everyone. Taking good pictures can be difficult – it’s why we have professional photographers.
At this point, an aside: if you have a really special project, don’t waste it - get proper photos done. It’s not cheap, but the results are worth it. And don’t forget, systems companies and fabricators are desperate for great installation pictures, so they might get some taken for you (as long as they can use them as well). Talk to them - it doesn’t hurt to ask!
But what about the photos that you take? Following these 10 simple tips will stop you making some of the common mistakes that make photos look average. They won’t turn you into David Bailey overnight, but - with a little practice - they will help you start taking good, usable photos of all your projects.
Tip 1 - clean your lens
It doesn’t matter whether you’re using an expensive DSLR or your phone camera, if the lens is grubby the photos will be poor. Give your lens a wipe before you start.
Tip 2 - check for reflections
Most of our project photos include glass, and glass means reflections. I’ve lost count of how many pictures I’ve seen with a reflection of the photographer in the middle of a window.
Before you take a photo, have a quick look for unwanted reflections. Whether it's you, a skip, or even a competitor’s van, eliminate reflections by moving to a different position. And never take a photo straight on - unless you want to be in the shot.
Tip 3 - check what else is in view
It’s not just reflections that can get in the way. Check the scene for things that you don’t want to see in the final photo. Stepladders, rubbish buckets, a stray roll of rag and silicone gun left on the cill - all of them can wreck a good photo. And while you’re checking, make sure your mate isn’t pulling a face behind one of the windows (yep - seen that).
Tip 4 - don’t park your van in shot
You might be very proud of your van, but including it in an installation photo rarely works well. If you’ve found the perfect angle and your van is in shot, take the photo, move your van and then take the photo again from the same place. I guarantee the second one will look better.
Tip 5 - try some different angles
Most photos are taken straight on. That’s fine (assuming you’ve avoided a reflection of yourself), but try taking some pics from different angles to make them stand out. Getting some perspective into the picture can really help, as can taking photos from a low angle, pointing slightly up. It makes homes - and especially front doors - look more imposing and impressive.
Tip 6 - pick a vertical line
It would be great if everything lined up perfectly in a photo, but in the real world that rarely happens. As soon as you get close to your subject or start taking pictures from an angle, you’ll find that the vertical lines are off. To get around this, pick the closest line (e.g. the front corner of the house) and make sure that it is vertical. It’ll help frame your photo for you.
Tip 7 - vary your distance
Most installation photos are taken from the street. That means you don’t quite get all of the house in, but you're not just focussing on a particular window or door. Try getting further away and getting the whole house in, and then move in closer and take well-framed pictures of individual elements. And try some real closeups of details too - they can end up being really handy.
Tip 8 - turn off you flash
If you’re outside it won’t help your photo, but it can cause strange reflections or oddly illuminated gateposts at the front of the scene.
Tip 9 - take a lot of photos
Digital storage costs virtually nothing, so don’t just rock up, take half a dozen photos and leave. Try things out, see what works and what doesn’t, play with the angles and distances. You might end up deleting most of the photos (preferably from your computer rather than direct from the camera - look at them on a proper screen first), but there may be some unexpected gems in there.
Tip 10 - go inside
I’ve saved the most important tip to last - go inside! You’d be amazed at how many people take installation photos from outside, but ignore the inside view. Yet if you look at any decent window brochure, often the most striking photos are the ones taken from inside the room. People connect better with warm, homely photos, and having a few indoors-looking-out pictures brings some variety. Ask the homeowner to put a vase of flowers on the window board first. Better still, give the homeowner some flowers first :)
To finish things off, a bonus tip. It won’t always work, but when it does it can make a huge difference. Try putting your phone or camera in HDR mode, especially for photos taken inside. HDR mode is a bit of camera cleverness that takes three photos at once - one slightly underexposed, one normal and one slightly overexposed - and then composites them together. The result evens out photos areas that are too bright or too dark, and can make photos look great (although occasionally they come out looking like a cartoon).
Have a go and see if these tips help improve your photos. We’d love to see the results - send them to us on Twitter @brouhamarketing.