While you may know me as a business development lead at Enaviga, I actually started at the company as a photographer and videographer shooting boats. Still today, I help clients get great photos of their boats, since pictures can make or break a booking.
You don’t need to hire a professional photographer to get pictures of your boats, though. You can get great photos of your fleet using just your mobile phone.
In the last few years, smartphone technology has improved by leaps and bounds. The Apple iPhone, Samsung Galaxy, or Huawei all have excellent cameras that can capture great photos of your fleet.
To start, let’s review some photography basics—the same principles you’d use to get a good photo with a professional camera.
Preparation is key
Creating a good photo starts long before you take your camera out. After all, your photos are only as good as what you’re shooting.
Step 1: Prepare your boat
You want to have your boat presented as best as possible. Prepare it as you would for a check-in. Also, consider your boat’s location, surroundings, and other things that might appear in the photo.
Step 2: Clean your camera lens
Wipe the lens clean to remove any dust or fingerprints. Cleaning is particularly important when shooting with a smartphone, since we touch our phones frequently. Your lens could have smudges, fingerprints, and other things you don’t want interfering with your picture.
Step 3: Wait for good lighting
The perfect lighting varies depending on what you’re shooting. When you’re taking photos of a boat’s interior, you’ll get the best results on bright and sunny days. For the exterior, though, you tend to get nicer images when it’s overcast. Clouds diffuse sunlight, which helps prevent harsh shadows.
The shot itself
Don’t just point and shoot; take a moment to look at what you’re including (or excluding) from any photo. Then use these best practices.
Step 4: Frame your shot
Use the camera grid to center and frame your shots. If the grid doesn’t automatically appear in your camera preview, go to your phone’s settings and turn the grid feature on. When it comes to selecting horizontal or vertical images, think of how the photos will be displayed. When in doubt, my advice is to stick to 16:9 horizontal images and then crop them afterwards as needed.
Step 5: Hold the phone steady
It might seem strange, since phones are a one-handed device, but try to hold your phone with both hands when using it as a camera. The goal is to keep it stable and level with the ground. Small shakes that you might not even notice pre-photo can ruin a nice shot. Take special care when shooting the interior, where there is less light. If you’re worried about your ability to keep the phone steady, particularly on a moving boat, a small tripod can go a long way.
Step 6: Use HDR strategically
Many new smartphones are equipped with High Dynamic Range, or HDR, which can help you get better, professional looking images. But only if done right. In-camera HDR can do all the heavy lifting for you, but it’s critical you keep the camera steady. It’s also important to have good lighting for HDR photos. If you don’t have good lighting or a steady hand, it’s best to opt for the standard setting.
Step 7: Be sure to focus
Smartphone cameras have a fully automatic job focus. To focus the shot, you just tap the screen. Be sure to choose your focus point carefully, you want to pick the most important thing in the frame. Then, remember to tap before shooting so the most important part of the image is well-lit and in focus.
After the photo shoot
Now that you have some great shots, there’s still a bit more to do. You need to select the best photos and perhaps give them a few edits to make them look as good as possible.
Step 8: Select the Best Photos
When you take multiple pictures trying to get the perfect shot, it can be hard to narrow it down to just a few images. Selecting the right one is often a matter of instinct, but it’s important that you do in fact pick just one. Posting too many photos of the same thing can deter guests. We generally recommend about 18-25 photos per listing. Consider posting two of the cabin, two of the WC, three of the galley, three of the saloon, four of the exterior (deck and hull), three of the cockpit, and two “action shots.“ While it’s OK to use manufacturer-provided photos for the action shots, try to use your own photos so they feel authentic to potential customers.
Step 9: Use Apps to Edit
There are many apps out there that edit photos. Some of the more popular apps are VSCO and Snapseed. You can use these apps to brighten your photos, adjust the contrast, and play with the colors. You also have the option to edit in camera by applying a filter. While there are a lot of professional blogs about how to edit photos, a good rule of thumb is to pick something that looks good to you and is somewhat neutral. For beginners, I often recommend simply using the auto-correct feature.
Now that you have some great, edited photos, you’re ready to put them on your website and start advertising your boat. Remember, a picture is worth a thousand words—and multiple pictures might be worth a booking!