You are probably reading this title and saying, “Why do I need to shoot photos?” As a locksmith, your trade is working with your hands. But, from a business side, you also need to market yourself. Being able to market your service takes skill, knowledge, and some great photographs.

Using clip-art is going to give your customers the impression you don’t know what you are doing. Using quality images that look professional give the impression you are a professional.

Below are tips from a website called TableTopStudio.com which can help you with additional tips if you need them.

First things first, let’s go over what you need:
1) A camera
2) A computer
3) Good Light
4) Product

Five Simple Steps to Better Product Photography

1) In order to ensure your images are sharp, make sure you know how to focus your camera. Digital cameras with auto focus are often difficult to focus precisely, especially when shooting small objects. Read your owner’s manual and be sure you understand how your camera’s auto focus operates. Most digital cameras are designed to easily focus on large objects but have difficulty on small subjects (ie. Keys, Springs, Pins, etc.). It is often useful to put your camera in spot focus mode. Spot focus will give you more control over what part of a scene the camera is actually focusing on.

2) Use a tripod, even the slightest movement while taking a picture will cause motion blur. The closer you get to an object the more obvious the motion blur becomes. Even an inexpensive tripod will make a big difference in the sharpness of your images. For really sharp images it makes sense to invest in a good, sturdy tripod. If your camera has a remote shutter release then use it, if not then use the camera’s built-in timer to minimize camera shake.

3) To get the largest area of your subject in focus put your camera in aperture priority mode and set the aperture to the highest number possible. The closer you get to your subject the more important this becomes.

4) Use soft lighting. Your camera’s built-in flash will rarely give good results for product photography. For soft lighting either shoot outside on an overcast day or use a light tent like the Table Top Photo Studio Light Tent Kit (Available from Amazon.com), or use a soft box.

5) Use image editing software. Even inexpensive software like Photoshop Elements™ can make your product photography much easier. It may seem like it’s faster to use an image exactly as it was shot. But in reality, it is difficult to shoot an image precisely how you would like it to appear in it’s final form. Image editing software allows you to crop an image, adjust it’s exposure, sharpen the image and then resize it, often in less than 60 seconds.

The biggest difference between an amateur’s product snapshot and a professional’s product image are sharpness and lighting. Steps 1, 2, and 3, will improve the sharpness of your images while Step 4 will improve your lighting. A minute spent editing an image will improve it further. Because these few steps seem so basic, it’s tempting to ignore them. However, if you take the time to follow them, you will see a huge improvement in the quality of your images.

An easy way to determine if lighting is soft or hard

You will often read that soft lighting is the best type of lighting for product photography, and that is true. However, unless you have a lot of experience with lighting, it can sometimes be difficult to determine if lighting is soft or hard. Here’s a simple way to check to see if you have soft or hard lighting. This method works well both indoors or outdoors and the only equipment it requires is your hands.

Hold your left hand out, keep it flat and slightly in front of you. Now hold a finger from your right hand a few inches above your left hand. Take a look at the shadow cast by your finger. A hard shadow indicates you have hard light conditions, a soft shadow means that the lighting is soft.

hard-shadow
Hard Shadow
Hand Shadow 2 
Light Shadow

Once you have tried this a few times you will see that you can even tell how soft or hard the light is. And if you look carefully you will even be able to tell if the light is actually coming from multiple sources.

Digital images contain important information about how they were taken

Sometimes you look at a series of images of the same subject and you wonder what were the conditions that made one image in the series look better than the others. You might wish that you had been taking notes on what the camera settings were for this particular image. Fortunately, your camera was taking notes for you and it is very easy to access this information. Most images taken by a digital camera contain lots of information about the camera and how it was set at the time the image was taken. Lets see how easy it is to see this information. While viewing an image on your computer hold the cursor over the image and click the RIGHT mouse button. A pop-up menu will open and the bottom item in the menu list should be Properties. Click on Properties and the Properties window will open the tab and then select. You should now see a long list of information about that image. Image size and other general information will be near the top. Lower down in the list will be the exact settings of the camera at the time the image was taken.

Hand Shadow 3

If after all of this, you think “I only have a point and shoot camera”, and “I don’t have a light box”, don’t worry. A point and shoot camera can work, just turn off the flash and use  both a tripod and also the timer. Doing both means you aren’t shaking the camera which means you have better images. If you turn off the flash, use a tri-pod but don’t use the timer, you will still have fuzzy images.

As for the light box, just shoot photos on a cloudy day. A bright sunny day may sound perfect, but it’s too much light. A cloudy day gives the soft light you need.

The last piece of advice – angle the camera right. You take the photo too high or too low and you don’t show the quality of the product. Are you shooting a lever and the handles fall? Put something underneath and then using the photo programs, erase it or if in Photoshop, “Clip it”.

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