Help your guests share great photos

Last Updated June 12, 2017

Word of mouth is the best marketing any business could ask for.  The power of social networks like Facebook or Instagram is their ability to pair things like photos and videos alongside the anecdotes your guests are sharing with their friends and followers.

Last week we shared a few tips you and your team can use to take better photos without needing a professional photographer. Be sure to check out that activity!

Now we’d like to help you encourage your guests to take better photos, which we think they’ll be dying to spread far and wide. For help, we reached out to two seperate EzTix Partners, Suzanne Rushton at Vancouver Photowalks and Tara Jones Haaf at Eat This, Shoot That. Our Director of Partnerships, Ben Montgomery, asked them about their experiences and how you might be able to aid your guests in capturing better photos.

BM: What are the top 3 most important considerations for capturing the perfect photo?

Suzanne Rushton of Vancouver Photowalks.

Suzanne Rushton of Vancouver Photowalks.

SR: Lighting, timing, and making sure you know how to use your equipment! (for when the timing is right). You want your image to convey a message or story, so take some time to think about what that message or story is. That way you can plan and be prepared for when a situation arises you want to capture.

TJH: Too many times I’ve seen business owners (and often times our guests!) be too far away from whatever it is they’re shooting. My advice: crop in until it’s too tight a shot and then take a step back. After that, clean it up and keep it simple.

Would your food shots look better against a solid or minimal wall/background? Do the bulk of your tour photos have distracting backgrounds or “photo bombers”? Then it’s time to reshoot and rethink all the parts or people in the frame. Visualize the shot you want to get before you start shooting and you’ll likely end up with better quality photos than when you shoot without a vision.

BM: What are the most common mistakes that business owners can make when taking pictures specifically intended for their social media networks, blog posts, and websites?

SR: Something that I notice is that not all the photos are consistent in colour. This is a bit geeky, but it’s important to make sure your white balance is even throughout the set of photos you put on your website. It’s also good to ensure you have a variety of photos with different framing. So you want some wide shots (good for banners!), close shots, and some macro shots that showcase any details that are relevant to your business.

TJH: Make sure that whatever it is you’re shooting, sharing, or posting is relevant to what you are doing with your business. If it doesn’t match your brand, don’t share it. It’s better to skip a day of social media posts or wait to post a new blog piece than post pics that are nonsensical or poor quality for the sake of pushing content. Be a perfectionist who is strategic and you’ll likely gain the audience you’re after.

BM: For our partners, encouraging their guests to take and post photos is a great way to obtain extra exposure on social media. Any specific tips you can share on how Tour Guides can help create those shareable photo-worthy moments while guiding a tour?

SR: I would suggest prepping the guests at the beginning of the tour. Excitedly say that you’ll be taking pictures occasionally during the tour for social (and I would also say that if anyone prefers not to be in pictures to let me know now…and then avoid them during picture taking)…but that has never happened yet! Most people are happy to pose and have their picture taken while on their experience, or even just relax around someone taking pictures. I would suggest engaging them and if anyone has a handle or hashtag to ensure you use it when posting. Also, live video, or video in general is getting bigger and bigger, so we’ve gotten in the habit of taking a few short testimonial videos, like 3 seconds where someone tells us their most transformational thing they learned (or experienced or tasted) that day. Engagement is the key.

TJH: We have a hashtag that we encourage our guests to use while they are on our tours as well as when they are out and about during their stay in Santa Barbara County. We also let them know that when they use our hashtag, we will likely repost/regram/retweet their photos. Everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame and social media is the new platform to easily make that dream a reality for our guests.

BM: On your tours, you teach your guests how to take better pictures. What would you say is the biggest point of surprise for them?

SR: For many people it’s learning about exposure compensation and how easy it is to adjust the light. It’s a big aha moment! Also, for many people, the ability to achieve a shallow depth of field is an eye opener, something they’ve always wanted to know how to do. The third most impressive thing for guests is either slowing or speeding up the shutter in order to do panning or freeze water droplets in mid air.

TJH: Most of our guests have no idea how to even use their cameras, whether it’s a point-and-shoot camera or simply a smartphone. The biggest surprise to them is how amazing the photography can be using their smartphones, once we show them all the hidden features/tools and how to maximize those tools.

BM: Food Photography has exploded in popularity – we seem to love sharing photos of our food as much as we do eating it! What is something you recommend your guests always keep in mind when snapping those tasty bites?

Tara Jones Haaf

Tara Jones Haaf of Eat This, Shoot That.

TJH: Often times our guests will take a quick snap of their food at the beginning of the tour and then move on without putting any thought into the process. We get our guests to really slow down and question how to get the perfect photo. Am I close enough or too close to the dish? What direction is the light coming from? Is there a distracting background that ruins what would normally be a great shot?

BM: I personally have a passion for craft cocktails, and often post my creations on Instagram. Any major differences to consider between photographing food vs. drinks?

TJH: It’s all about the direction of light. The difference between an OK food photo and a great food photo is whether or not the light is hitting the dish or the beverage from the right angle. Sometimes things look best with front lighting. Other times, you may want to have the light hitting your dish/drink from the side. It all depends on the mood of the photo and the message you’re trying to convey to your viewers.

BM: With cell phone cameras exploding in popularity, most small business owners likely use their smart phones for the majority of their tour photography. Any recommended apps, add-ons or accessories that you might recommend that can help our partners take better photos in a cost-effective way? Favorite filters?

SR: My absolutely favourite is Snapseed. You can do so much with it! I usually put my photos through the HDR filter to make it more vibrant and have a balanced exposure, but still keep it looking realistic (it’s easy not to with HDR). Then I use the Tune Image feature (in Snapseed) to brighten, add contrast, sometimes add ambiance and adjust the highlights and shadows. Then I use the Details tool to sharpen the image. If I have taken a shot of a building or interior that’s somewhat distorted, the Transform tool can adjust that too. It’s truly amazing.

TJH: We never use filters. I know…sounds too good to be true, right? But the reality is a great photo does not need a whole bunch of fixing up or additions. A great photo is clean, simple, and well lit. My favorite photos we use to advertise usually only have one or two objects in the frame and a clean background. After that, it’s simple tweaks in Instagram before it goes out the door!

There’s an old saying from my alma mater photography school: crap in is crap out. (Ha!) If you’re starting with a bad photo, you’re going to end with a bad photo. With the advancement of Photoshop that may not be entirely true anymore. But when it comes to smartphone photography, you really have to nail down a quality photo in order to have a stellar photo to showcase.

BM: To selfie stick, or not to selfie stick? That is the question…

SR: I don’t (or rather, haven’t yet) but if you have a need to have yourself in a photo and don’t want the “giant arm” effect, then I guess I endorse selfie sticks! Just be careful with them and watch out for other people 😀

TJH: (major eye roll) Ugh. Never the selfie stick.


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