By Monica Pitts

If you have the fancy photo gear and know how to use it, then I’m not suggesting you throw it away. But if all you have is a phone, you have what you need to start. Many phones take great photos – especially if the photo is destined for online or small printed materials.

For online photos the usual phone settings are just fine. For photos you plan to include in both print and web turn on your HDR setting if you’re using an iPhone, for other phone types the settings will vary so ask Google or your kids for help (I’m always doing this kind of thing for my mother-in-law).

Here are a few tips to show off your quality work.

1. Take at least 5…maybe 10.
Don’t just stop at one, take a couple. Even if the first one seems right, it may not be when you blow it up to full size. Take your photos from multiple angles and do a few from each angle so you can pick the best of the best to highlight your quality work.

2. Take photos from far away.
More picture is better than less picture. Don’t try to perfectly crop your photo while you’re taking it, especially if you plan to use it in your marketing. You never know if you’ll need more space around the photo to fill in a rectangle. You can always crop later, even on your phone!

3. Watch the shadows.
Overcast days are your friend because bright light creates shadows. If photos taken on overcast days seem too grey, you can always bump up the color later by editing the photo in your phone if you need to “green up” the landscaping.

If you can’t wait for an overcast day to shoot pictures, take stock of your surroundings. Note the direction the building is facing and when the shadows from trees are the longest because they may darken your work area. Early morning and dusk are often great photo times because the light isn’t as harsh. If you’re not sure of the right time to take your photos, take a couple test shots during multiple times of the day.

4. Use burst mode for action shots.
When people are working in your photos try using burst mode, it takes multiple photos rapid fire so you can get each movement and choose the photo where your subject looks clearest and most natural.

5. Shoot mostly horizontal images.
Most photo gallery AND slideshow images on websites are horizontal or landscape. Throwing in a vertical image every now and again can seem out of place. Consistency is the key to a professional look for marketing. And you can always crop a horizontal image vertically, or portrait, later.

Slideshow images on website homepages and across the header can be super narrow. It’s tough to get much in a three inch tall by 20 inch wide photo. Use the panoramic settings on your phone if you want more details in each photo. Panoramic settings do distort photos a bit but in many cases it’s better than just getting a slice of a normal horizontal image.

11. Learn how to focus on your phone.
On an iPhone you can tap the screen where you want to focus your photo. This helps to add depth to the photo and make sure you’re not focusing on that dumpster you couldn’t move. Taking multiple photos will also ensure you have at least one shot where the right thing is in focus!

12. Clean your lens.
Taking photos with a dirty lens is like driving while wearing dirty glasses. Not ideal. It’s not always easy to tell if your phone camera lens is clean, especially when you’re in bright light where everything can look a bit washed out and hazy. Use a lens cleaner or a clean soft cotton cloth to wipe the smudges and yuck off your lens before you begin.

Use these tips to take great photos before, during and after your projects.

The end of a project, after everything is all finished, feels like the perfect time to snap a photo. But sometimes even the coolest project can look like no big deal once the work is done because the best work feels like it’s always been there. Show prospects the before, during and after views of your projects so they can get the full awe effect of what you’ve accomplished.

Monica Pitts is the founder and Chief Creative Officer of MayeCreate Design. She spends her days constructing a marriage of form and function; creating art with her design team to grow businesses through websites and online marketing. Monica considers herself an artist, marketer and web dork with the ability to speak geek and English.