Fresh eyes

Shooting better social media photos

social media photography
Gareth Edwards Senior Design Manager

Written by Gareth Edwards,
Head of Design at Freshfield

There’s never been a time where so many people have access to a camera.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t make us all great photographers.

Taking good photography is a real skill – one that’s become undervalued in the social media age.

But because speed is paramount, and a high volume of images are required to keep your business’ social media channels fresh, it’s unrealistic for all your photography to be professionally taken.

So how can you make your own photography better? Here’s some of my top tips for shooting for social.

Face the light

This is important when taking photos of people, for example if you’re getting a photo of a new member of staff or setting up a small group picture. The subjects don’t want to be staring into bright sunlight, as they will be squinting. It’s more about using the natural light that’s available, particularly if you’re shooting on a phone camera.

As you’ll see from the photo below, modelled by Yours Truly, the light in the first photo is behind me which creates a silhouette effect, putting my features in the shadows. In the second photo I’m standing at a slight angle to the light, which more evenly illuminates my face.

Avoid flash

Because phone cameras have a small lens, they don’t let as much light in, meaning you can end up with dark images. Many people to try to compensate for this by using the flash on their phone camera. However, this has limited impact and only serves to make people look unnaturally shiny and pale skinned. Wherever possible, look to use natural light, for example taking your subjects close to a window, or even doing the photos outside. Again, in the photo below you can see how the second photo, without the flash, picks out my normal skin tones and make me look less washed-out.

Think about the composition of your photos

The following photos haven’t been taken by me, but I’ve used them to offer some examples of how you can capture social-friendly photos that stand out.

Look up and down

Most people tend to take photos at eye level. While shooting this way is useful for certain types of photo, it rarely makes for an interesting image. Finding a different angle by looking up and down offers a fresh perspective and makes for better photos.

This approach is particularly useful for businesses in the property sector who want to showcase their buildings on their social media channels. For example, could you shoot down a central atrium or staircase? How can you use tall buildings to create a sense of scale?

Look for symmetry

Humans are drawn to symmetry because it is elegant, neat and easy on the eye. Finding symmetry in an image can also be a thing of beauty. Whether you’re shooting a building, a product or another scene, look for symmetry to make your image more interesting.

Look for leading lines

Leading lines are features of the landscape or built environment that lead the eye into the image and give it perspective. Think about the columns on an old building, the parallel lines of opposing pavements, road markings, tall trees, or other features that can lead the viewer into your image.

Look for angles and reflections

Again, this is particularly useful when photographing buildings and property. Look for sharp corners or other angles that can add visual interest to your photos. Reflections from windows, puddles or other shiny surfaces can also create an unusual but pleasing effect.

Get low and high

Similar to what I said above about looking up and down, it’s also worth physically moving your body and camera into high and low positions (providing it’s safe to do so) to get a different perspective on the scene or person you’re photographing.

Look for light and shadows

Looking for unusual light or shadows is another good way of creating images that have the wow factor. It might be capturing a sunrise or sunset reflecting off a building, or seeing how the shadows created by clouds or tall structures can create unique scenes.

Explore different photo apps

It’s worth knowing that if you’re taking photographs on a phone there are certain phone camera apps that can improve the capability and performance of the in-built camera.

For example, there’s a great app called Pro Camera that enhances the native camera on your phone so you can shoot at a 16:9 full screen ratio, perfect for creating those taller images for Instagram stories. Among other features, it also allows for greater shutter speed control – especially useful if you want some arty light trails in your image, for example.

A little editing can turn a good photo into a great one

It’s always worth using the editing features on your smartphone camera to enhance images, for example tuning the colour or brightness. There are also a whole host of great photo editing apps, such as Snapseed, you can download that will take your photo editing to the next level.

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