Summer is here at last and it’s time to get out the camera to capture the best of what you and your business can offer the world! Yes, you probably have this year’s ad campaign well underway, and your rack cards and brochures are already gracing info racks at distribution points near and far.

Now is the time to plan for next year! The sun is out, the sky is blue… if you wait until February to think about getting those perfect shots you’ll be kicking yourself… unless of course you operate a ski resort or manufacture snowboards!

If you are a small business with an even smaller marketing budget, professional photography services may be outside your realm, although you might be surprised at what a little trade-barter approach can do for you!

Summer 2009 Blackberry Creative photo shoot

Po Wan of Blackberry Creative, and photographer Cliff Craven, set up a shot for the Qualicum Beach Chamber of Commerce’s “Beauty of Small” campaign

At the very least grab your digital camera, set it to the largest file size allowed and start clicking. Take LOTS of photos… the more you take, the more likely you are to get a useable photo. And the emphasis is on the word useable here, because you simply will not capture the same quality of image that a professional can take for you… and why would you think you could?! There is art, craft, and even science behind beautiful, evocative photos and that is why the work of a professional photographer should be considered as an investment in your business.

But if you are doing it on your own, here are some tips…

Vary the angles, subject matter, and time of day for different light (avoid high noon and aim for morning, or early evening photo shoots).

Include both landscape (wide) and portrait (tall) shots… your rack cards and banner ads will require different formats.

Use a flash for BOTH indoor and outdoor photos. If you are inside get as much additional light as you can into the room…. under a skylight can work quite well.

Getting a shot in-focus requires a steady hand and eagle eyes, so a tripod can be very useful, especially for low light settings such as retail store interiors.

People enjoy looking at other people, so include yourself, your staff or your Aunt Milly in the photos… real people, smiling into the camera lens will help capture your intended audience. Take your time, take charge, and direct your photo shoot. Try different poses and setups and don’t be afraid to experiment!

And next year when you start planning your marketing materials for the upcoming season you will be able to draw from a wide assortment of images, all of them showing you and your business in the best possible light.