Taking good snapshots

When I told a client to take high-quality photos when he visits job sites, he asked, "How would you describe a quality image?"  Here is my answer:

I recommend you get a "real" camera as it will have a better lens than does a mobile phone. It need not be a big through the lens reflex (SLR) camera; there are many adequate pocket size camera for about $300 that are easy to carry with you when you visit a jobsite or travel. 

Look for one that can shot "RAW" format so it captures all the light present; jpeg format compresses the image and reduces the ability to color correct the photo.  RAW files tend to be big, so look for a camera that simultaneously records a RAW and a jpeg that can be used for email. 

Shoot at the highest resolution (most pixels) the camera allows. The more pixels we have, the more useful the picture will be: we can crop it, blow it up, retouch it, etc.  The files may be too big for easy attachment to a phone or text message, but can be shared via an online file transfer program.

Optical zoom is fine, but do not use digital zoom as it reduces the quality of the image.

The auto focus / auto exposure setting on modern cameras are pretty good. If you are inclined, take some time to get to know the camera and its manual settings. 

My secret for taking good photos is to shoot LOTS of them, and throw away the bad ones.  Take shots from a variety of angles, close-up and distant, horizontal and vertical, with and without people, with and without flash, and so forth.

If light is low, use a tripod (there are small ones that fit in a briefcase) or find something stable on which you can brace the camera. Use a soft, lint-free cloth or tissue to make sure your lens is clean.

Remember that, once the project is finished, we can always send someone to the site to photograph it, but the in-progress shots can't be taken after construction.

When you file the pictures, make sure to record the project names and other data that will be useful when you need the images in years to come. Most of the photo management software projects have tools for storing this "metadata".

It's worth the effort to take photos. In addition to using them in advertising, PR, and on the website, they will be useful for training, continuing education, project documentation, and to share with customers.