Everyone loves a good pic for their socials but not everyone is a natural photographer. There’s a big difference between the standard of photos needed for Social Media than what a professional photography business requires. The average Instagrammer is forgiven for having less than perfect images but that doesn’t mean we should settle for average photos.
With advances in mobile phone camera technology, the quality of the images is certainly getting a lot better! We can now get a beautiful high-resolution photo with our smartphones that we couldn’t dream of having even a few years ago.
Along with ditching the blurry photo upload, here are a few simple tweaks you can implement during the photo-taking stage to improve your photos.
And you won’t require expensive equipment or editing software!
1. Straighten the Horizon
I first started noticing horizons when someone slammed a professional photographer on social media for having crooked landscape shots in their portfolio. According to the commenter, a crooked horizon is very faux pas and is one of the photography 101’s in the professional world.
Now that I’m aware of it I tend to agree that straight horizon is easier on the eye.
Instagram makes it easy to adjust the angle of an image before posting or you can use any number of other editing programs. Even easier is to simply line up the horizon as best you can before taking the photo.
2. Be aware of the background
A messy background can not only be distracting, but you could be sharing more than you intended with your audience! Before you share your dirty laundry with your followers, take a quick check of the background before posting an image to socials. You may need a simple crop to clear away the clutter, or perhaps some clever editing could be handy.
My favourite camera setting is the PORTRAIT mode on my Google Pixel. This allows the subject to stand out in the foreground while giving the background a blurred effect. I’ve also been known to direct my kids to take a ‘step to the left’ in order to put them in front of a far more pleasing backdrop.
In the example below, there’s all our ‘stuff’ in the background – a bike, the back of an old house, a bbq, etc. By taking the photo in PORTRAIT mode it doesn’t hide the stuff completely but rather makes the subject of the photo ‘pop’ so we notice her before the mess in the background.
3. Make them interesting
Ever flick through someone’s photo album and it seems to be twenty photos in a row of the same thing? I bet you found yourself getting bored pretty quick am I right?
When considering what photos to upload to your social media, think about the reaction you want to invoke from your followers. Make your content interesting and exciting, intriguing and entertaining. Before taking five photos of the same view from the same lookout, ask yourself if there’s anything you can do to make the photo slightly more interesting.
Let’s take the below example of a piece of concrete ruins found on a recent road trip. By adding my daughter into the shot, it goes from a random piece of concrete to something that was interesting enough to be explored. Never discount the power of adding the ‘human’ element for social media! After all, aren’t we are all on there to feel connected to other humans just as much as we’re there to view nice looking photos?
4. Angles work wonders
No doubt we’ve all had that shocking moment of opening up our phone cameras to find it on the front facing view. For a split horrifying second, there we are in all our double-chinned glory looking down on our phones. We soon learn that looking down is a very unflattering angle for many of our faces and you may find yourself angling your chin up for every photo from then on!
But it’s not just selfies where different angles can give your photos a different look and dimension. This is especially useful for product photography. Angles can be used to highlight different aspects of the item, or to reduce glare on shiny surfaces, etc. In the below example we’re able to show the inside colour of the mug while still capturing the front design.
5. Light it up
Light can make or break a good photo, especially when it comes to those taken on smartphones. Natural light is your best friend! I have found that taking my products outside to photograph for an online store produces a much clearer shot than staying indoors.
When inside position items beside a window or have your subject move to the lightest part of the room. Position the light source (ie, sun or light from window) behind the camera where possible to shine the light on your subject and avoid excess glare in the photo.
I have my smartphone flash turned off by default as not only does it cause a delay when taking photos, but it can throw glare or give an unnatural glow to photos. The NIGHT SIGHT setting on my Google Pixel is amazing for low-light photos rather than using the flash. Experiment with different settings on your own smartphone to find options for all lighting situations.
The below example shows the difference in taking a photo at night using flash, as opposed to waiting the next day and recapturing a similar shot in daylight.
6. Avoid over editing or adding unnecessary filters
Consider a less is more approach to editing and filters – sometimes it’s simply not necessary to retouch the image at all. When I was still learning about the settings on my phone I realised my photos appeared dark not because of poor quality images, but rather because the screen brightness had been turned down! D’oh!
Then I went through a stage where every photo uploaded to Instagram had to have a filter applied – whether it needed it or not. Nowadays I might touch up a photo slightly, or simply leave it as is!
…and one more thing
HAVE FUN! Taking photos for your social media accounts shouldn’t be stressful or a dramatic affair. Relax, go with where the mood takes you and allow your own individual style to shine through.
Note – I am NOT a professional photographer and will never pretend to be. The above tips aren’t gospel, just a few handy hints that I’ve picked up along the way in my social media management journey that have improved the quality of my photos.