Picture Perfect

I’ve seen some bad photographers in my day.

My grandmother used to take photographs with a battered110 camera that was held together with old, yellowed Scotch tape. Granny was famous for taking bad pictures. She would chop off her subjects’ heads, shake the camera just as she snapped the shutter, or her finger would get in front of the lens and ruin the shot.

snapshot_smallAnother bad photographer was a coworker who was actually the marketing and PR director for a large civic arena. She had a nice Pentax 35mm zoom, but always managed to take blurry, dark shots. She blamed the camera, but it was her own lack of understanding of how cameras work that was her downfall.

Many companies are in need of high-quality photography, but unfortunately, they often end up with results not much better than Granny’s. However, it’s not necessarily best to rush out and hire a professional photographer. Are there times when you should? Absolutely—retirement dinners come to mind, or special occasions that can’t be repeated if the photos don’t turn out. But for day-to-day photo needs, a decent digital camera and a little know-how can save the day. Here are a few tips:

  • For most small-to-medium sized businesses, a mid-range point-and-shoot digital camera is more than adequate. Priced in the $250-$500 range, these cameras come with a variety of automatic settings to make life easy. Check reliable sites like consumerreports.org for impartial reviews.

  • The mistake most photographers make is not getting close enough to their subjects. Move in close. Don’t use the camera’s zoom unless you have to because it can make the picture blurry or dark for technical reasons. Move in close to your subject—and then move in some more!

  • Take lots of shots. Digital cameras use memory cards that can hold hundreds of images. If you don’t like them, delete them—no harm done.

  • Shoot outside if you can. Daylight makes subjects look better and photograph more easily for many reasons. Avoid direct sunlight—try shooting in the shade on a bright day for the best photographs.

  • If you must shoot indoors, remember that even though a room may seem bright, it’s dark to your camera. That can mean dark or blurry images. Invest in an inexpensive ($50-$100) tripod, set the camera setting to “indoor” and use the camera’s timer to take the photo so the slight shake of your hands won’t blur the image. (If your camera has manual exposure or ISO control, you can also set a high ISO and a slight overexposure to help avoid dark images.)

So there you have it. With a few simple tips, you can take great shots of meetings, presentations, products, customer appreciation days, company parties and all of those other moments that you need to capture. Just remember—don’t be afraid to call in a professional for those truly special occasions.

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