What’s up, guys. I’m Aaron, the creative director here at Junk Removal Authority. Today we’re going to be talking about the basics of taking good photos for your junk removal business.
Why do you even need to know about taking pictures? You’re in Junkanoo. You don’t need to be a professional photographer, but you still need good quality pictures for your website and social media pages. Those are your online face to your customers, and you need quicker shots to post or you won’t book professional. We’re going to look at three major components that make up good pictures: composition, lighting, and camera settings. Quick disclaimer; you don’t have to have the world’s greatest camera to take good pictures. Use your phone camera if that’s all you have. Just know that you’ll be severely limited in photo quality, so you’ll have to get creative. I recommend buying a decent camera that lets you adjust at least the aperture and shutter speed.
Part 1: Composition. Composition is basically how you frame up and arrange the objects or subject in your shot. While you can compose a shot any way you like, there is one basic rule that can instantly improve your photo quality. It’s called the rule of thirds. The rule of thirds works like this: take the image you see through your viewfinder camera screen, and mentally divide it into thirds both horizontally and vertically, so you end up with nine different sections. This gives you four lines and four intersections. Those intersections identify four important points of your photo, and the lines are useful for positioning and other elements. As strange as it may seem, many studies have shown that our eyes don’t naturally go to the center of a picture. Instead they focus on these important points we just identified. Try to align long elements in your photos such as the horizon, the edge of the driveway, or a standing person with the imaginary lines in your shot. If you find yourself struggling to align your shots properly, don’t worry, you’ll get better with time, and there’s plenty of free photo editing software out there you can use to crop and reframe your shots. In addition to the rule of thirds, pay attention to your body position, and the angle at which you shoot it. You don’t have to keep your feet on the ground the whole time. Crouch, lie down, climb on top of your truck, do whatever you need to do – safely – to get that shot right. Make sure you know exactly what and where your subject is, and figure out the best angle to show it. Take as many shots as you need to get it right. By composing your shots using the rule of thirds and by getting a little creative with your angles, you’ll help people interact more naturally with your photos making them more aesthetically pleasing.
Part 2: Lighting, Guys, you’re going to be out in the field taking pictures on the job, not in a controlled studio environment like I’m in now. We’re not talking about using these big artificial studio lights here. Since most of your shots are going to be outside, or in people’s homes, you won’t have total control over the lighting conditions like you would in studio. Instead, you’ll need to adapt to your environment. As a general rule, if you can shoot during the first two or last two hours of light, do it. That’s when the natural sunlight is best for photography. Sometimes, you simply won’t be able to shoot during the best hours. Maybe you’ve got a hot tub job at noon that you want to photograph. A good trick is to hold your hand out in front of you, and rotate in every direction. Pay attention to how the light interacts with it, and where shadows form. This will give you a good idea of how light will interact with larger objects as well. When you see light and you like with your hand, recreate it on your larger subject. If it’s a little early, take pictures using street lights, and other artificial sources to create a good, somewhat dramatic, lighting. I don’t recommend using flash as an amateur. Flash is very complicated to get right. It can produce some very dramatic results, but these are not necessary or even very helpful for our purposes in junk removal. The biggest keys with lighting are to make sure your subjects aren’t overexposed, or washed out, or they’re too dark to see.
Part three: Camera Settings. If you are taking pictures on your phone, this is where you’re really going to hurt. Adjusting the camera settings can work wonders, especially under lighting conditions that are less than ideal. Don’t worry, you don’t need to know every single setting on your camera. The more you know, the better you can control your shots, but the two settings we will focus on here or aperture and shutter speed. These two factors determine the exposure of the shot. Aperture refers to the size of the lens diaphragm on your camera. When it’s in auto mode, aperture works a lot like our eyes. When there’s a lot of light it narrows, and when there’s a little light it widens. Aperture is measured in f-stops, for example: F 5.6, F/8 and F/11. The smaller the number, the wider the diaphragm, and the more light is allowed in. The higher the number, the less light is allowed into the camera. In addition, aperture adjusts the depth of field or how much of your photo appears in Focus. A wide aperture or a lower f-stop results in a shallow depth of field, which is great for portraits or close shots. A narrow aperture with a higher f-stop is better for the landscape shooting. In junk removal you’ll stick mostly to lower stops. Shutter speed limits the amount of light hitting the camera lens by controlling the length of time the shutter opens during shooting. The higher the shutter speed, the more light is allowed in, and the lower the shutter speed, the less light hits the lens. Shutter speed also affects the blur of the photo. The longer your shutter is open, the blurry your shot will be if there’s any motion. Crisp motion shots require a very fast shutter speed such as 1/500 of a second, or even 1/1000 of a second. Portraits, on the other hand, can be shot using 1/125 or 1/80 shutter speeds. Aperture and shutter speed work together to determine exposure. As you adjust one, you should adjust the other to maintain proper exposure. For example: as you widen the aperture with a lower f-stop, you allow more light to hit the camera lens. To compensate, you should increase the shutter speed to reduce the length of time the shutter remains open. Fortunately, adjustments to these settings are typically made evenly. That is if you wind your aperture by one f-stop, for example: from f 5.6 to f/8, you should increase your shutter speed by 1 f-stop as well. Say, from 1/125, to 1/250.
There’s one other setting you can adjust if necessary: ISO. ISO, in simple terms, brightens or darkens your photos. As you increase ISO, your photos get brighter, and as you criticize ISO, they get darker. This makes ISO a very useful setting in dark environments, such as dimly lit basements and attics. However, increasing ISO to brighten your shots does come with a consequence: noise. Noise is that grainy look that sometimes appears in some photos. Ever notice how cell phone pics you take in dark areas end up looking super grainy? Well since your phone can’t adjust aperture and shutter speed like a true camera can, it compensates by increasing ISO. The resulting photos are of poor quality. For that reason, you should only increase ISO once you’ve maximized your adjustments to shutter speed and aperture. If lowering your shutter speed any more would result in image blurring, it’s time to adjust ISO.
Alright, guys, those are the basics. Remember, good photos are about composition, lighting, and camera settings. Get used to your equipment and practice, practice, practice. With some experimentation, and a bit of experience and patience, you’ll be taking great pictures for your website and social media pages in no time. Speaking of social media, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram, and subscribe to our YouTube channel for more great junk removal business tips. If there’s something you’d like us to cover, or a question you want answered, be sure to leave it in the comments below.
Thanks, everybody. If you like this video, please give us a Like and Subscribe to our channel. Now get out there, get shooting, and get those pictures posted.