Photo Finish

How to improve every photo you take, including those on your phone.

In the age of social media, signmakers must engage their customers in order to increase awareness, and, let’s face it, sales. Posting photos of your work is a must. With an abundance of undifferentiated clickbait cluttering their feeds, your clients increasingly expect curated, professional and engaging content. Making sure your photos look their best has never been more important. 

If you are simply taking photos and posting them, you are missing an opportunity to turn customers into admirers, fans and even evangelists for your business. Limitations and conditions in which a photo is taken (such as time of day or weather) often can’t be controlled; the best way to improve your snapshots is with photo-editing software. 

I use a similar process for every photo I post or publish online or in these pages. This process can yield impressive results without consuming much time. As with any skill, there is a learning curve, but a positive attitude, some bravery and more than a little trial-and-error will have you producing much-improved images in no time. The examples shown have been produced using Adobe Photoshop, but all photo-editing software has similar functionality. 

I’ve presented these steps in an order that enables one process to build off the other in a way that increases optimal results. Also, it’s helpful to have a routine, because this process should be applied to every photo you intend to post or share.

These photos were all taken during a cloudy autumn day in Columbus, OH. The weather varied between sun and rain, so I had mixed results. As you can see, editing the photos after the fact can make up for a lot of issues, including bad lighting, ugly power lines and even sign malfunctions. Good luck!
 

Digital Darkroom

You can edit and retouch photos right from your smartphone’s system software, and the process is very similar no matter which platform you use.

Simply open your photo app, tap “Edit” and adjust your photo. Both Android and iPhones let you crop, apply various filters, adjust contrast and color, and much more. If you’re not happy with the result, tap “Cancel” and the photo will revert to its original form.

If that’s not enough, there are also free (or very inexpensive) apps that you can download if you prefer. Some of the highest rated are these:
Snapseed Great presets, editing tools and filters. Snapseed is easy to learn, and you can revert to your original settings at any time. 
Adobe Photoshop Express Designed for fixing images, this Photoshop-derived app does much of what its namesake program can do, but for free. You can easily set presets, saving even more time.
Afterlight 2 This $3 app is as powerful as the Adobe apps but sports a simplified interface for those intimidated by all the complex controls and buttons of Photoshop.
VSCO A great collection of filters and a full array of functions define this free app. VSCO is a bit complex, but rewards your perseverance with its professional-level results.
Litely This free app is extremely simple to use and has a wide array of filters, but has fewer features than the more complex offerings on this list.
 

Signs of the Times May 2019

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