Stop Flashing Your Clients - Taking Better Cell Phone Photos

We live in a visual era and growing your brand means that you have to document and create images of your goods and services. Thanks to technology, it’s much easier to do. Whip out your phone and snap away. The problem is, we’ve moved on from the early days of the internet where a dark video or photo that’s poorly lit is acceptable. Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn have raised the bar in how we share our lives. Sure, there are issues with presenting a fake lifestyle, but that’s a post for another day. I want to focus on small business owners and the photos you’re using to market your business.

Pretzels no flash
Pretzels with flash

Nerd Speak

The nerdy stuff – 

  • Light travels in a straight line. (Rectilinear Propagation)
  • The only way to make light deviate is to put a dense object in its path. (Refraction)
  • Because light travels in a straight line unless refracted, it will bounce off a reflective object at the same angle it hit it. (Specular Reflection)
  • When shooting in auto, your camera will expose (adjust lighting) for the brightest parts of your image. 

What Does That Mean

It means that when you take a photo, the light your camera uses to “see” the image and make the photo determines how your images look. Soft light is always better. Ok, it’s not always, but, in this application, always. Because your camera both exposes for available light, it darkens areas that are underexposed or dark. Your flash makes one area of your image really bright, that is the area reflected back to your camera and the camera only “sees” that area. 

If you look at the pretzels above, the left image has no flash, the right does. On the right, the table is dark and there’s a big bright spot reflecting back to the camera. The pretzels also look unflattering and almost two dimensional because of such a bright, harsh flash. 

The image on the left, because it’s exposed for all the light, has more depth and is visually appealing. The entire image is properly balanced. Both of those images are raw and straight from the phone. Below are the edited ones. I used the exact same editing settings I do for all my Instagram photos that come from my phone. Even edited, the ones on the right look better, because the original image was better. 

Pretzels with flash edited
Pretzels without flash edited

TURN OFF YOUR FLASH!

Below are some flowers I shot here at the THINK Center, which while a gorgeous space, has some very harsh lighting if you’re looking to shoot something. Why? Because like most households, all the lighting is above and creates downward shadows. Which makes it perfect for making my point. Now that you know that the flash makes backgrounds dark, you can tell which ones have the flash on. 

The images with the flash, because it’s so harsh, lose all the detail and depth out of the flowers. Also, the color in the photos is dull and unappealing. I left these untouched because most small businesses that are posting aren’t editing their photos. While these were just off the cuff, which would you rather use to promote your product. 

Please, turn the flash off

I hope you find this helpful and it improves your social media posting and engagement. If you need help with your branding or content creation, give us a shout!