When I started my painting company, getting great pictures was my first priority. I was more interested in getting great pictures out of a job than I was in getting profit out of it.
Painting services, as with any aesthetic or luxury products, sell through pictures. Your photo log will be one of your biggest marketing assets.
Your job site pictures will keep your marketing channels performing. And that keeps the phone ringing.
You will use your job site photos in almost all your marketing channels. Including the following:
- All social media channels
- Printed marketing materials
- Directory websites
- Your own website
- Ad landing pages
- And much more.
Being such a valuable asset, I recommend you manage your job site photography with discipline and consistency. Doing so will let your photos make you money for a long time. In this article, I’ll give you some guidance on starting up your job site photo management strategy.
Step One: Gathering New (Unedited) Job Site Photos
Before we can start job site photo management, let’s talk about gathering new photos.
When you take a picture with your phone it should automatically save to your preferred photo cloud storage. For me, that’s Google Photos. For you, it might be Apple Photos or Amazon Photos. This means that as soon as I take a picture with my phone, I can log in to Google Photos on my desktop browser and see the new picture right away.
You should have quick access and ownership of the photos your staff take as well. One method for achieving this is to have them logged in to a company cloud storage account such as a gmail account. This way their pictures are automatically saved to that account’s data. You can set up their account to have their Google Photos storage automatically share photos to your Google account.
That method may be overly complex if you don’t already have them use Gmail or a similar cloud service. I prefer a much more simple method:
My staff sends me pictures via WhatsApp (a messaging app, but you can use any other messaging app). Any photo I receive through WhatsApp automatically gets saved to my Google Photos storage. To set this up on your phone, go to your Google Photos or any other cloud photo storage. Then, activate auto back up & sync with your other photo folders (such as WhatsApp images or any other app).
Now, as soon as a staff member sends me a picture, I can go to my google photos from my desktop and I can see the picture there. It’s as if I took the picture myself.
If that’s not working for you, click on the photo that your staff sends you on your phone and manually click the share button. Now you can share it to your photo cloud app whether that’s google photos or something different.
The final point to make on gathering new photos is that you need to train your staff on taking usable photos. Here are some super basic tips to give them:
- Hold the phone horizontally, not vertically. Horizontal photos can be used across more marketing channels.
- Hold the phone straight not at an angle.
- If it’s dark (such as when it’s after 5pm) don’t even bother taking pictures. The lighting will look bad and many phone cameras don’t have a good night mode.
- Clear any clutter away from the scene.
- Take the picture from far away enough to see the entire kitchen or whatever area you’re working on. If you have a tall employee, tell them to hold the phone lower. This way the picture doesn’t show a bunch of ceiling that you’ll need to crop out.
- Include pictures that show your other employees working. These are nice to post on social media as well instead of only before and after pics.
Step Two: Organizing Your New (Unedited) Job Site Photos.
You should now have usable pictures coming to your photo cloud storage account every day or at least every week. Now you want to group them by job. In your photo cloud service, they might offer a simple way to do this. On google, it takes more steps than I would like. So what I do is download the images to my computer, and then upload them from my computer onto Google Drive. From there, I put them into a folder I call unprocessed pictures. Once they are in google drive, I delete them from my computer and from google photos to keep those places clean.
From there, I will create more sub-folders named after each job where the pictures are from.
Okay, now you have unedited or unprocessed pictures either in your general cloud storage or your photo cloud storage. And they are grouped into appropriate folders by job.
This is only the first step in job site photo management. But it’s something I recommend doing every single day. This way it becomes a habit. And your photo storage doesn’t become clogged up with unorganized photos. Make this a part of your daily routine.
Step Three: Editing Your New Job Site Photos.
Now we can begin photo editing. I recommend you edit photos once per week or even once per month is fine. Add it as a recurring event to your calendar so that you stay consistent with it.
Once a job is done and you know you won’t be getting any more pictures for that job, go into the picture folder for that job. Begin editing your photo assets.
What I do is download the pictures from google drive to my computer. This way I can edit them on my computer with software.
Editing Step One
Delete any images that are worthless. A picture is worthless if either:
- Its a bad looking picture or
- It’s very similar to other pictures in that folder.
If any pictures are very similar pick the best one. Then delete the others. There’s no point in having multiple pictures of the same thing. In my cabinet painting business, I only keep pictures that show the entire kitchen. I only keep pictures of sections of the kitchen IF its a nice section. This would include a nice range hood or wine rack or something like that. Otherwise I only like whole kitchen pictures but that’s my personal preference. You want some before pictures as well as after and even some during pictures can be nice to keep.
Editing Step Two
Now that you eliminated the bad pictures, step two is editing the remaining pictures. What tools do we use to edit photos? Most pros will use photoshop because of all the features. But many of those features take a lot of time to learn and are not necessary. You only need basic editing functions which all free tools will have. So if you don’t have photoshop, use your favorite free photo editing tool. It can be something you download such as photoscape or an online tool such as lunapic. This is all the editing you need to do:
- Crop the pictures. I won’t get into how to crop properly in this article, you need experience messing around to know what looks good. When in doubt think about the rule of thirds and place the focal points in the intersections. Be thoughtful: if you have a large empty wall to the right of the image, crop it out. If you have a lot of flooring space or ceiling space taking up a large portion of the image, crop it out.
- Resize your images to something manageable. If the photo was taken with a nice phone then the picture size is probably huge. There is very little reason to keep them huge unless you think it’s a super nice picture that you can use in a lot of places. Otherwise I usually bring it down to a maximum of 1600px wide. If it’s a very nice picture, like in your top 5%, then make a second copy to keep as a large version. You can use the large version on landing pages, billboards, postcards, etc.
- Finally, add subtle effects, typically just increasing the lighting a good bit is all you need. You don’t want your picture to LOOK edited.
That’s all you need. If you’re good with photo editing, feel free to do a lot more with your photos. You can really make them pop but only if you know what you’re doing. Don’t just drop a cheesy filter on them, that will look unprofessional.
Now that the pictures are edited I like to optimize the size of the photo file. This means making the file size smaller without sacrificing quality. I go to imagecompressor.com to quickly do the job.
Delete the old versions and keep the compressed versions. Now I will upload the edited images back to google drive. Make sure to delete the old versions. Also delete all files from your computer now that they’re safely in your google drive or other cloud storage. Now you can move the photos out of the unedited pictures folder and into your edited pictures folder.
I also name my images and here is an example of a photo name I would use:
The first two digits are the second two digits of the year (2020 in this case). The next 3 digits are for the order in which it is added to my processed pictures folder. In the above example, that would be the first processed/edited picture of the year 2020. The final digits are the job number from where the picture was taken.
Naming my images keeps them in order. It makes it easier to know which ones have been shared on the internet and which ones still need to be shared because I can keep track of the order number.
Step Four: Turning Your Job Site Photo Management Into a Money-Making Asset.
Okay, so now we begin the final part of job site photo management, sharing your pictures to the internet. To start sharing I’ll download the pictures I’m about to share to my computer. This will make it easier to start uploading all over the web.
Share to your business profiles on your social media accounts. Make sure to always include a sentence or two in the post. Never upload a picture without some text in the post.
For Instagram I can only share from my phone so I’ll move the pictures from my computer to my google photos account. That way I can share to Instagram from my phone.
Don’t forget to upload them to your directory profiles such as Yelp and Homeadvisor. Do this even if you don’t advertise with them. Uploading pictures to them can help with your SEO. It can even set those profiles up for success if you choose to use them in the future.
Also make sure you upload them to your website gallery. Ask your web designer if they can set up an auto Instagram gallery on your website. If they offer web design for contractors, they should know how to do this. This will allow you to get the photos on your website by simply uploading to Instagram.
Finally decide if the picture is so good that you want to upload it to some section of your website other than your gallery. If so, go for it.
Once you’ve uploaded your new pictures all over the web, do NOT delete them from your cloud storage. Pictures are timeless. You can repost them over and over again in the future if you need some quick promotion.
If you have your own tips for job site photo management, leave a comment below.