Many small businesses run on small budgets and still need to create quality marketing for many facets of their business. Photography happens to be a very essential element that many people dont fix a budget for. In this blog post I will outline why good photography can save you money; and what you should ask a photographer for in relation to data/printer needs and creative alignment to brand concepts.
Step 1: Files & Data
Graphic designers and printers require certain file sizes and DPI (Dots Per Inch) in the images that will be used online, and in print. Many small companies that use inexperienced photographers will fin that 95-99% of the images taken can't be used at all. The images maybe sent to you in a small DPI range and as a low data format. So lets discuss what happens when you get the wrong size.
DPI sent low than 300. If a dpi is lower than 300 we can't improve the clarity or quality of the image. It will look fuzzy the lower DPI you have. The print quality will look like everything is bleeding together. Details in the garment can't be seen. This is one of the biggest problems I see. Usually the images need to be reshot. By this point the company has spent more money and time on collateral that can't be used. The image below shows the 300 dpi and a 72 DPI.
Shoot in RAW. Photographers should shoot in the RAW and be able to send the .RAW and .JPEG files. Web designers and graphic designers usually request both. The file formats allow us to fine tune images or recolor them in RAW. While a jpeg is a smaller data file and can be used faster for social media and websites. The photographer should be able to deliver both. I love getting RAW images as I can change aspects of the camera used on the final image. It offers some additional variety and creative freedom.
When you talk with your photographers, be sure to put this in the contract for deliverables. It will save time on the graphic design end.
Step 2: Composition
Brands oftentimes will hire an amateur photographer to shoot images. Even if the data is good, the image composition may just fall short. If you want consumers to understand the brand message, having correct composition is key. For example, if you used a 1920's style circus theme to design your clothes, but the image was shot in a mountain range, it would fall short each time. The two concepts are fighting. Whereas if you shot the image in a arcade or amusement park, it would connect. When you have a small budget for these elements, you may have limited composition. Below are two methods you can use to achieve composition on small budgets.
COLOR: Color is your friend. If you have designs that are green and blue, and your concept was based on frosty mornings, then you may want to see what locations in nature have similar colors and textures. Maybe you shoot the item in two locations. Lets say a mountain in the dawn hours. Allowing the photographer to shoot frost coated plants alongside the pastel horizon and light the colors of the garment well. The second location could be at a vibrantly painted snow cone stand or truck with snow cones that match the colors.
Theme: The theme used to design the clothing can be the same thing used to figure out best spots for a photoshoot. You may even photograph in a studio with a blank backdrop or color backdrop. The graphic designer can add in images, borders, fonts, and etc. that will connect back to a theme. Sometimes this is a good way to shoot for all 3 categories of collateral on a budget. Website, linesheets, and social media. The images although plain in nature can be enhanced by so many other elements, while the theme is tied together.
Composition is a big one I see being poorly done, and often times not discussed with a photographer. Companies get upset, but keep in mind the photographer had no creative direction.
Step 3: Details
This area is probably one of my biggest annoyance. Details really do make the image work. Human nature is very good at seeing what is out of place. I find that having a second set of eyes in the photoshoot that just pays attention to details will greatly impact the number of usable images. So what do people usually miss?
Buckles, Straps, Buttons, Ties, and etc. As the graphic designer for cookbooks and line sheets I will get images that have straps that sit uneven or in poor position. If there is sliders, they are not equilaterally placed. Belts maybe tied poorly or sloppy, and buttons maybe unbuttoned in odd places. Dirty shoes, or accessories that don't match the concept. Photographs can be touched up and we can adjust many of these problems, but it takes a lot of time to fix all the small details. If you want to save money, pay attention to the details.
Lighting: Its important to have proper lighting on the images as a graphic designer can only retouch so much on the photo. Colors should look like the colors the consumer will receive. Often times if the image has poor lighting (dark or bright), the color will be impacted. This means a graphic designer may spend 20 minutes to 3 hours to just get one image to match. The person that is attending to details, and directing the shoot should also check the colors. Many photographers can shoot with thier camera attached to the laptop. This allows the director and photographer to discuss changes, problems, and needs as they arise. The example below is a good example of lighting.
Be sure to use a photographer that can deliver these key aspects of your company needs. Remember your customers want quality, and the image you put out should match this expectation. You may pay more for a good photographer, but if these areas are met, the graphic designer costs will become smaller. If you start correctly, you will save time and frustration surrounding marketing and end product.
I have assembled an easy check off list that you can download for free. Click here for document.