Improving Your Pinterest Images

Professional product photography is a wonderful resource. If you can afford to have a professional photographer take images of your products, services, and events, use them. (Make sure you have have permission to use those images on Pinterest, according to your contract with the photographer).

However, you can spend a lot of money on good product photography, and Pinterest is hungry for more images than many smaller businesses can afford.

You can improve the photos you take.  This post talks about how to train your brain to think about images differently; plenty of pins point you to information about the technical elements of improving your images through camera settings and lightroom processing.

Crop!

When in doubt, crop your image! Cut out as much of the background as possible and get in close to what matters to the pin.

Pink bicycles example of cropping

Example of cropping to remove most of the sidewalk and show more of the color.

If your photo processing software offers a 3×3 grid during the cropping process, get one of the intersections of the grid close to the center of interest in the image.

Real world lesson: TV close-ups of a character (Law and Order pre-commercial fade-out) ALWAYS show the character’s face on one side or the other of the screen, NEVER in the middle.)

Educate Your Eye

Before you can create better images, it’s helpful to be able to recognize better images. As you read trade magazines, end-user retail advertising, or any other source of images including Pinterest, notice which images catch your eye. Tear out pages from magazines and keep them in a notebook or file folder. Pin interesting pin images to secret boards if you don’t want to do your learning in public.

From time to time, look over your collection and let it talk to you. You may find that the images group themselves into categories, by distance from object; time of day, color scheme.

Ask yourself:

  • Where is the camera?
  • Where is the light source?
  • Is there more than one light source?
  • What time of day is it?
  • What’s in the background and how did the photographer make the background look that way?*

*It’s possible to blur a background by changing the apeture on your camera; it’s easier to make sure the background is as simple and plain as it can be (or at least, interesting and deliberately selected) before you take the picture.

When you’re ready to create your own images, take this information with you and your camera.  Chances are, simply thinking about how an image you like was created will help you create images that you like a lot more.

Books

The board below shows pins about books and other sources of information about improving your photography. I focus on shifting your point of view and general artistic understanding rather than the technical information about how to use software.

Photograph Daily

See Everyday:  A Year Long Photo Diary, by Byron Wolfe.  Anohter book that has the same effect on me are Speck:  A Curious Collection of Uncommon Things, by Peter Buchanan-Smith.

Wolfe is a photography teacher who set himself the assignment to make one good image every day.  Lisa Creed did the same thing with her paintings.  Julia Cameron teaches this about writing daily in The Artists Way.

Carry your camera / smart phone everywhere.  Allow / force yourself to stop and take photographs whenever something catches your eye.  Photographing the same thing every time you pass it will have much the same outcome, if that is easier to do.  (I have a series of the nuclear power plant plume; another of a highway intersection construction project in process.)

If you’ve ever watched a professional photographer work, you may have noticed that he or she took HUNDREDS of photos in order to get the 20 that appeared in your wedding album, or the three that were used in the magazine article.

The point of these exercises is to help you let go of the idea of “one good image” and move into an understanding of “lots of images will lead to one good one.”

Jim Krause’s Index Series

Jim Krause’s Index Series

Jim Krause Book image

Books that can help you be a better designer.

I love all of Jim Krause’s books.  People doing their own product photography should buy the Photo Idea Index (bright green plastic cover in the picture on the site). The chapters in this book take you through 350 ways of looking at the world (and products!) around you and taking pictures that will make people stop when they see them on the pin flow.

If your business is more specific and you KNOW you only need landscapes, or people, or products, you might want to look at one of Krause’s focused idea books.

If you do nothing but set yourself the exercise of duplicating each of his images with your landscape and/or products, you’ll have 14 boards full of images that work. Add your paid professional shots in with your own images, and your business account will look as good as any big business.

Caveat: I have not been able to duplicate professional interior design photography worth a hoot.  The pros use lights; more lights than you can image.  Using the homeowner’s in-home lighting is NOT enough.  If you pin in the interior design trades, pay for professional portfolio images.  Focus your own photography on close-ups and products, rather than finished installations.

Pins about Pinterest Photography

This is a board where I collect pins about how to create better images for Pinterest; not pins about photography in general.
(Board keeps disappearing, and I’ve submitted a help ticket into Pinterest. Stay tuned.)