We’ve talked about whether to use stock photos or to use your own images. Say you want to create your own images, how can you go about it?
First decision: should you hire a photographer, or do it yourself? Assuming that you are not yourself a skilled photographer, these are the questions you need to ask yourself:
- How important is quality? If this is the photo of your building which will provide the centerpiece of your web design and indeed of all your graphics from now on, then hire a photographer. If it’s one of the hundreds of images you need every year for your blog, then you might want to do it yourself.
- What post-production options do you have? If you’re a wizard with Photoshop, you have more flexibility in choosing photos than you would if your skill extended no further than clicking the “autofix” button on your computer’s built-in photo editing program. If your photos have to go onto the screen just as they are, then you need better pictures to begin with.
- Are you a good judge of quality in photos? We say “beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” but research has shown that visual artists across cultures are generally in agreement on what makes a good picture. Non-artists, on the other hand, have widely varying judgments. Just as some of us can tell whether an instrument is in tune and some cannot, some of us can tell whether a picture is good or not. Find the person in your organization who can tell — if there isn’t such a person, hire someone.
Do a little honest evaluation of your abilities, and plan out your shots to make the best use of your skills and resources.
Did I say “plan”? Yes. We were taking pictures of a party for a client’s blog, and we got some nice shots during the actual party. However, we also took lots of shots beforehand, and then the next day we reconstructed the scene in daylight to get the shots we wanted, but which hadn’t come out as well as we wanted. It’s worth taking the time to do this.
My dad was a professional photographer, and his advice was always to take lots of pictures. The professional photographer, he said, was the one who took three rolls of film to get three great pictures. We don’t use film nowadays, but it still makes sense to take lots of shots. Your chances of having great pictures increase when you do that.