diy-photosYou need photos of your projects. Let me say it again, YOU NEED TO TAKE PHOTOS OF YOUR PROJECTS! Odds are good you’re walking around with a camera in your pocket at all times…your phone. What’s stopping you from snapping those digital nuggets of gold? I hear all kinds of excuses, most people quite honestly forget. But others are intimidated about taking pictures and not getting good results.  

Construction phone photography crash course.

1. Ditch the fancy photo gear.

If you have the fancy photo gear and know how to use it, then I’m not suggesting you throw it away. You are not who I’m trying to convince to do the bare minimum of photographing your work. Many phones take great photos – especially if the photo is destined for online or small printed materials. For online photos the usual phone settings are just fine.  And if you follow the tips in the rest of this article you’ll be golden. For photos you plan to include in both print and web turn on your HDR setting if you’re using an iPhone, for other phone types the settings will vary so ask Google or your kids for help (I’m always doing this kind of thing for my mother-in-law).

2. Take photos from far away.

More picture is better than less picture. Don’t try to perfectly crop your photo while you’re taking it, especially if you plan to use it in your marketing. You never know if you’ll need more space around the photo to fill in a rectangle. You can always crop later, even in your phone!

3. Watch the shadows.

Overcast days are your friend because bright light creates shadows. If photos taken on overcast days seem too grey, you can always bump up the color later by editing the photo in your phone if you need to “green up” the landscaping. If you can’t wait for an overcast day to shoot pictures, take stock of your surroundings. Note the direction the building is facing and when the shadows from trees are the longest because they may darken your work area. Early morning and dusk are often great photo times because the light isn’t as harsh. If you’re not sure of the right time to take your photos, take a couple test shots during multiple times of the day.

4. Tidy up your job site.

Clean up your job site, even if you’re snapping during photo, trash is not endearing. Move unnecessary equipment, dumpsters, discarded wood, coolers and tools. If you can’t move it try to shoot from an angle that de-emphasizes the mess.

5. Take before, during and after photos.

The end of a project, after everything is all finished, feels like the perfect time to snap a photo. But sometimes even the coolest project can look like no big deal once the work is done because the best work feels like it’s always been there. Show prospects the before, during and after views of your projects so they can get the full awe effect of what you’ve accomplished.

6. Shoot mostly horizontal images.

Most photo gallery AND slideshow images on websites are horizontal or landscape. Throwing in a vertical image every now and again can seem out of place. Consistency is the key to a professional look for marketing. And you can always crop a horizontal image vertically, or portrait, later.

7. Try panoramic settings for homepage slideshows.

Slideshow images on website homepages and across the header can be super narrow. It’s tough to get  much in a three inch tall by 20 inch wide photo. Use the panoramic settings on your phone if you want more details in each photo. Panoramic settings do distort photos a bit but in many cases it’s better than just getting a slice of a normal horizontal image.

8. Take at least 5…maybe 10.

Don’t just stop at one, take a couple. Even if the first one seems right, it may not be when you blow it up to full size on your website. Take your photos from multiple angles and do a few from each angle so you can pick the best of the best to highlight your quality work.

9. Clean your lense.

It’s not always easy to tell if your phone camera lense is clean, especially when you’re in bright light where everything can look a bit washed out and hazy. Use a lense cleaner or a clean soft cotton cloth to wipe the smudges and yuck off your lense before you begin.

10. Include people when you can.

People make a photo more welcoming and show off your work ethic as well. Make sure the people in the photo are cleaned up and wearing logo gear. They don’t have to be shiny clean, a smudge or two on their attire is ok because you’re taking the photo from far away. Schedule early morning shots with people if you can, so everyone’s not all yucky and sweat stained from the afternoon heat.

11. Learn how to focus on your phone.

On an iPhone you can tap the screen where you want to focus your photo. This helps to add depth to the photo and make sure you’re not focusing on that dumpster you couldn’t move.

12. Try a few settings.

Experimentation is key to finding the right way to photograph each job site. Your default settings may not work every time. Take a few photos one way and then switch to another, you can pick the best one when you get home and can see them large and on your computer screen. The iPhone’s camera settings are a bit limited as far as settings go but third party apps are available to step up your game when you’re ready.

13. Use the rule of thirds.

What is the rule of thirds you ask? Wikipedia says, “the rule of thirds is applied by aligning a subject with the guidelines and their intersection points, placing the horizon on the top or bottom line, or allowing linear features in the image to flow from section to section.” What this means in english is don’t center stuff right in the middle of the photo. It adds interest and dimension to photos to have a person off to the right working with the parking lot spanning to the left instead of a person smack dab in the middle. You can cheat on your iPhone and turn on your grid by going to Settings > Photos & Camera and enabling the Gridswitch.

14. Turn off your flash.

The flash can make a glare and washout your photo. And since you’re taking photos during the day and really paying attention to the environmental lighting, you don’t need a flash because it’s just going to make things harder. Unless you’re using my mother-in-law’s camera that literally won’t take a clear photo without the flash, then, in that case, by all means use the flash, otherwise – TURN IT OFF.

15. Use burst mode for action shots.

When people are working in your photos try using burst mode, it takes multiple photos rapid fire so you can get each movement and choose the photo where your subject looks clearest and most natural.

16. Snap your photos using a button – not by tapping on the screen.

Unless you’re taking a selfie your phone will be steadier if you hold it like a camera out in front of you with both hands. Then if you’re using an iPhone you can click on the volume button instead of touching the screen so the phone won’t have a tendency to bump forward and move while you’re taking the photo.

Hungry for more photo taking tips? Here are few more tidbits to develop your skills:

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