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How and why your small business needs great photos

Editorial Team

5 min read
Staging a food photo
Photo by Szabo Viktor on Unsplash

Good photography can make a huge difference in that crucial first impression you make on a potential customer who’s first encountering you online. The good news is, these days you don’t need expensive equipment to get great images—you can capture beautiful images that will showcase your brand with just a smartphone and a good eye.

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We interviewed Michelle Dufflocq, Clover’s social media manager, and Liza Herland, Clover’s social media strategist, to get some simple tips any small business owner can use to capture better photos.

Clover: Let’s start with the basics. Why is good photography important for a small business?

Michelle Dufflocq: Good photography establishes credibility for a small business. It’s also really important in showcasing your business’s personality and what you have to offer. 

Liza Herland: Especially on social media, which is such a visual platform, photography is really the way you’re attracting people first. It gets what you’re trying to say out into the world faster than anything else.

Clover: What about a small business that doesn’t do much business online or have much of a social media presence?

Dufflocq: Especially through the pandemic, people have become much more digitally savvy, and navigating life through the digital world has become increasingly normalized. So even post-pandemic, as foot traffic returns, there will be huge benefits to improving your digital presence. 

We’ve heard from a lot of small businesses, for example, that the buy online and pick up in store process has become more and more popular. With so many businesses continuing to offer these options and having well developed websites, that’s an incentive to continue developing a website and social media presence. And as it’s become more common and popular, if you don’t have an online presence, you may fall short.

Herland: It can be very intimidating to try and grow a following. Just play around. You have to try stuff to know what is and what is not going to work. Pay attention to the content that you’re putting out, and don’t be afraid to try new things. And when you spend time on social media personally, don’t just scroll mindlessly—look for accounts you can follow that can offer little nuggets of inspiration for how you want your business to show up in that space.

Cameras and plates of food
Photo by Brooke Lark on Unsplash

Clover: Does a small business need to hire a professional photographer to get high-quality images for the web?

Dufflocq: It depends on your resources. A photographer is able to capture things in a way that most of us might not be able to. But as social media has become so much more native in our daily lives, we’re used to seeing more raw and real moments captured on a smartphone, and that does resonate with most people. 

If you personally aren’t getting great shots, get to know your team. Maybe one of your employees is really passionate about social media—that could become a great way to offer a cool career-building opportunity to a team member. You can also look for photos customers have taken in your space and repost them, or even reach out to some small influencers in your area and offer them a gift card in exchange for some beautiful imagery. 

Clover: What are the most important images to capture?

Dufflocq: You can capture a lot in just an hour or two. Focus on getting some overall shots of the space to showcase the feeling that the customer will get when they walk through the door. Then take some close-up detail shots l showcasing your product or service. Some photography featuring  your team or your employees interacting with customers can really show off the environment you’ve created for your business. 

Clover: What are some tips for getting better pictures of the overall space?

Dufflocq: Always use natural lighting if possible, even if that means you have to move a table outside. And don’t be limited by the way your space is normally set up—feel free to get creative, move tables around or stand up on a chair to get a good shot.

Clover: How about some tips for shooting people?

Herland: Candids are such a nice way to capture people’s energy and the environment of a small business. Of course, you want to be sure that people know they’re on camera, but the more you can make them comfortable, the more you can get some really nice moments. 

Clover: And what are your best tips for food photography?

Herland: If you want a magazine look– think, Bon Appetit–make sure you’re standing on a chair or doing what you need to to get those angles. If you want a “food porn” look, it’s all about the close-ups of the things you want to showcase the most. Ultimately, you have to understand your brand and what fits with that. If your business is a burger place, you might want to go with the more “food porn” look with cheese pulls and everything. But if you’re a farm-to-table restaurant, you might want something classier. 

Make sure you find other people’s photography that you are inspired by. Be intentional about learning from your peers. Take ideas from what you’ve seen that works well, pay attention, and follow the feeds you want to aspire to be like.

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