If you run a small business, chances are you’re on a social media platform. And, as we all know, humans (aka your clients) are visual creatures. So why not give them what they want: something great to look at!
With 300 million photos uploaded to Facebook (alone) every day you may think it’s too difficult to stand out from the crowd with your current photography skills. Whether you’re an amateur photographer or a seasoned marketing professional, occasionally we can all use a refresher on some basics for taking great social media photos.
Tip #1: Consider your Composition
The most effective way to improve your social media photos is to employ the Rule of Thirds. Imagine two vertical lines and two horizontal lines, spaced to divide the image into a grid. Placing the focus/area of interest or subject at the intersection of these invisible lines is much more appealing than most head-on, centered images. It also allows you the flexibility to play with negative space. Think perhaps if you take a photo of an employee with 2/3rds of the photo being the wall behind them. Not only do you have a nice asymmetrical stand-alone photo for social media, but you also have an element that you could easily add text to for birthday wishes or the like. Final thought on composing the perfect social media shot… be conscious of the background. If you’re outside, (usually) the last thing you’d want as a backdrop is a billboard promoting your competitor. Inside, keep an eye out for leftover lunch crumbs or the lurking shadow cast by the person taking the photo.
Tip #2: Location, Location, Light
Natural Light is always best and provides a warm feeling to your social media photos. But there are a few things to keep in mind when using the sun as your main light source. Even if it’s not a bright sunny day, don’t be afraid to snap your photos outside or near a window. Mildly overcast skies can make colors appear more vibrant. Conversely, if it’s a super bright day, shadows will equally be intense. You can use this to your advantage with the naturally dramatic shadows, but if shooting a portrait for social media, you may want to seek out some shade. The shadows under eyebrows and noses play by those rules too.
Smart phones are ever evolving, and so are their camera’s capabilities. Low-light shooting mode is becoming more standard. If you’re cordoned to taking your social media photos indoors, say at a conference or other event, try to avoid flash if you can. Look for areas of light, or if possible, ask your subjects to stand in an area with better light. Don’t forget that on most phones, when you have your camera open, you can tap to automatically adjust exposure and focus.
Tip #3: To Zoom or Not to Zoom
That is actually not the question. Never use the zoom function on your smartphone’s camera. Even though you can pinch and zoom, doesn’t mean you should. Your photo’s quality will immediately begin to suffer. Your phone camera is going to shoot in such high res, that you will still get quality images by cropping after the fact. The other option here is to get closer, and by that I mean physically stand closer to what you’re taking a photo of whether it’s a person or a product.
One of the most fantastic things about digital photography, as most of you may remember, is that we are freed from the expensive costs of developing film and reprints. Snap, snap away both far and near.
Don’t only focus your new found photo skills when your marketing team or customers remind you that you should be posting on social media more. You can begin to build a content library without planning elaborate photo shoots. If you see something interesting on a sales call, if you’re at a conference or networking event, or if your team’s hard at work in the office break out your camera. Creating content is also about curation. You may not have immediate plans to post that goofy photo of Karen jamming out with her headphones on, but down the road it could come in handy to celebrate her big 4-0. Phone cameras are capable of taking such high-resolution that they can easily work across many printed pieces too.
If you’re at an event, take a beat and give some thought to your photo and scan the background, observe the lighting. Get creative by trying different angles – go up a stair or two to shoot downwards, try crouching or kneeling to get a lower, more intriguing angle. If you want to post more photos of smiling people – and this is one of my favorite tricks – come prepared with a figurative laundry basket of dad-jokes, the cornier the better.
It may feel awkward at first, but you’ll get more comfortable. Don’t be shy when trying to take great social media photos. There’s a good chance that your subject, pose-mates, or vendors need pics for their social accounts too!
Need some inspiration on how to stretch your content resources? Check out this More Than a Few Words episode where Alan Silber discusses Guerrilla Marketing and how one session of content creation can be used in numerous different ways.