Social media, what would we do without it? It’s only been around for less than 20 years, yet it has become an integral part of our day to day lives. According to Statista, “81 percent of U.S. Americans have a social media profile...the number of worldwide social media users reached 1.96 billion and is expected to grow to some 2.5 billion by 2018.” With that many people on social media, it can be difficult to set yourself and/or your brand apart from the masses. Using photos and video content is the best way to get more eyes on you. HubSpot states, “Visual content is more than 40 times more likely to get shared on social media than other types of content.” Basically, make sure your photos look good so they can be shared by many. Here are 5 ways to improve your social media photos and get the most from your posts.
The best way to get a great photo is to use a great camera. We recommend purchasing a DSLR camera if you want to use your social media photos to promote your brand, blog, photography, business, etc. Your photos will come out cleanly shot and it is much easier to edit a high-definition photo to perfection than it is to try and correct a low-definition photo to give off the same impression.
Another great purchase is a WiFi camera. The convenience of shooting a high-res photo and having it sent straight to your phone to post in the matter of seconds is what being a millennial is for! If you don’t have the means to purchase one of these bad boys at the moment, no worries. The newest camera phones have been giving some of these DSLR cameras a run for their money.
If you have the newest Androids or an iPhone 7+/8, you can certainly utilize the camera features to your advantage on social media. There is a new portrait feature on the iPhone 7+ and 8 that can give you similar high-resolution results, just make sure the subject is well lit. The most conflicting factor with this step is the financial commitment to purchasing a camera or phone that can give you the best results. It’s a pain in the ass, but if you do make that sacrifice now and end up making good use of it...you may start to profit off of your social media and possibly make that money back in due time. It’s been a proven investment.
Lighting, lighting, lighting...it can change everything. The mood or style of your layout is ultimately what you want to decide. If you want a bright and colorful feel, then we suggest using high contrast lighting. Of course, natural light is the best source for these type of photos, but if you can’t get optimal natural light then mimicking it will do. You can purchase a softbox with a natural light bulb at any photography store. Using a device like the iBlazr for your phone while you’re on the go, or ring lights that beauty bloggers use for more stationary shots would also help. We recommend focusing on lighting for brands and influencers who want to take photos/video content for social media with products or just themselves.
Another color scheme that bright lighting works for is a pastel layout. Ultimately, the filters will give the pastel layout its’ signature look, but the clean photo should be bright to start with. This could also apply for bright black and white photos. For a dark-colored theme, we suggest to light the subject well enough to capture their details. You don’t want the photo to be so dark that you can barely see the subject. In a silhouette capture, the background is bright enough to draw your eyes to it while the subject remains a dark figure.
It’s assumed that the subject in each photo is the focal point, and in many cases that is true but the background plays a large role in helping create that effect or hinder it. A simple, flat-colored background will undoubtedly keep your subject in the forefront, while a chaotic background can deter a viewer’s eyes away from the subject. Street Hunters, a photography site based on tips and techniques, states “What matters is that an element placed in the background also contributes significantly to the balance of the image, interacting with the subject of the photo.”
If the background is somewhat chaotic, treat it as though it’s a prop. Find a creative way to plant yourself in the shot so that you stand out while still blending in. If you’re shooting for a candid style of photography, then pay close attention to what’s going on and try to capture the most captivating moment in real time. Silhouettes are another form of shooting where you rely on the background, so make sure the background is captivating enough to stand out on its’ own.
This is extremely important and rarely discussed. The angle in which you hold your phone or camera while taking photos can determine whether the subject is straight ahead (visually appealing) or crooked, which is far less eye-catching. Even if the subject is standing straight or placed straight ahead of you, the angle in which you take the photo can ruin it. Pay close attention to it and where you may like to cut the image off. You may also use rare angles to your advantage. If you find yourself getting creative or trying to set yourself apart, you can go for abstract angles. This could make your subject seem larger than life or tiny depending on where your camera is placed.
Placing your phone/camera in positions where the subject is still straight but the angle in which you’re capturing them is unique can make for an engaging photo. This could also be a focal point for your layout if you choose to factor it into every photo. Last but not least, angles are important for selfies. Let’s be real, we’ve all taken a selfie or two...why not upgrade our selfie game? According to the gospel of Kim Kardashian, who made an entire book of her selfies alone (so she’s kind of a pro here), keep your chin down and camera up. That’s it for Angles 101.
A FILTER IS SUPPOSED TO ENHANCE YOUR PHOTO, NOT MAKE IT! If you took a bad photo (awful lighting, terrible angle, etc.), then a filter will not be able to save it. Layers of filters will not be able to save it. Unfortunately, it just has to go.
The key to using filters to your advantage is to have a great unfiltered photo to start off with. Once you have your clean shot ready, then you can begin with the enhancements. Finding a filter that suits your brand/layout is extremely important. It will determine how your viewer identifies you and sets you apart from the rest. You can see our recent post on 6 Layouts For Your Insta Feed for more tips on how to choose the right themed layout for your brand and layout. Whether your focus is a pastel layout, a high-contrast layout, or a warm-colored layout, there is a filter for it all!
You can choose to use the filters Instagram has already set in place and save the photo directly from your Instagram page once the filter is applied to cross-post onto your other social networks. The app we recommend using for filters is VSCO. It’s a great source, initially free with in-app purchases, and has a vast amount of filters that can cater to your liking. There are tons of apps for filters, so definitely try them all until you find what’s right for you...and aesthetically pleasing.
Now, snap away!