The internet is becoming more and more visual by the day. Sharing amazing photos on social media not only draws people’s attention but also turns them into followers! It’s no wonder that more and more individuals and brands are investing so much time and effort to create imagery that will stand out on social media.
Here, we have curated a checklist of all the things you need to keep in mind while shooting for your brand. Mind, you don’t need to own a DSLR, even your smartphone can generate quality images with the right tools and tricks!
So, let’s dive in!
Anyone who knows a thing or two about photography will tell you about the ‘rule of thirds’. Basically, it is about dividing the image in your mind into ‘thirds’ and therefore position the subject in either the left or right of the photo. The rule of thirds encourages viewers to take more time viewing the image and also enhances the depth of the photo. This trick is particularly useful in rectangular images such as cover photos for Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.
An easy way to implement the rule of thirds is by using the ‘grid’ function on your smartphone’s camera settings. The grid lines divide your photo into 9 equal parts. Aim to maneuver your subject along the lines or where they intersect.
However, with the growing popularity of square photos, placing your subject right in the center of your frame also has a pleasing effect. The use of grid lines will thus help you to keep your subject in the center bringing symmetry to the image.
The art of balance may be a tricky one to understand but it’s well worth the effort. A great way to think about balance is to imagine all the elements in your image to have some ‘weight’. Bigger the element, more the weight. If you were to put your image on a balance scale, would it tip to one side? Most photographers aim to create a balanced photo i.e. the scale is made level.
There are 4 types of balance –
- Radial (picture a spiral staircase)
- Crystallographic (picture a tray of donuts with different toppings)
Symmetrical balance invokes the feeling of harmony and is great for illustrations, drawings, blog graphics, photographs, and much more.
Asymmetrical balance creates tension through contrast and can be visually interesting when done correctly.
If you are using stock photos, chances are, the photographer has already taken the efforts to balance out the shot. In this case, you have to ensure that any text or branding you lay over the image doesn’t unbalance the visual aesthetic.
If you are creating your own image, you can balance the weight in your image by playing around with different things such as size of items, lightness and darkness of items, warm and cool colours, texture, quantity of objects, isolation of objects, and orientation (vertical/horizontal/diagonal) of objects.
Lighting is crucial for great shots and can make the audience get a feel of the emotions behind a shot. Wherever favorable, use natural lighting to brighten up your images (never use your phone’s flash as a source of light) as it eliminates harsh shadows, especially on people. So, try and get the subject to face the direction of the light. However, be careful that the subject is not overexposed to the sunlight.
You can also adjust the ISO and white balance settings (higher the ISO, more the light in your picture). If you are on your smartphone, you can tap on different objects on your screen and the lighting will be adjusted automatically. Moreover, once you have clicked the picture, you can play with its ‘exposure’ on any editing app to adjust the photo’s brightness without affecting its quality.
Creating high-resolution images is very important to portray yourself as a brand to be taken seriously. Why? Because of even today, a lot of people view media on their desktops. That means an image that looks great on the phone, may actually look blurry on a larger desktop. So, invest in a high-resolution camera (or a good smartphone) to overcome this problem.
It is also inadvisable to zoom in and click pictures as the quality of the image degrades, becoming more grainy or pixelated. Instead, click a regular, zoomed out photo and crop it using an editing program or app.
You should also sharpen a photo by at least 15% before you post it on Instagram to overcome the loss of photo quality while posting online.
5. Background & Style
The choice of where your photos are clicked makes a huge difference to your photo. You can think about how you want to portray your brand or product to your audience to reach a decision on this if you don’t already have a brand toolkit and style guide. For example, a sturdy SUV would be shown on a wild terrain.
When it comes to style, never underestimate the power of simplicity. What you choose to leave out from your image is just as important as what you choose to keep in. This is also referred to as ‘negative space’ or ‘white space’ and evokes a powerful reaction from the audience. It brings a certain aesthetic quality to the image and highlights the subject even more beautifully.
The brain looks for structure in an image in order to process it. There are many ways to help the brain recognise the structure and an effective structure helps to ‘guide’ your audience to follow a certain ‘path’.
This means creating an invisible frame around the outermost part of the image in which no elements are touching. This is important only when there are elements close to the edge of the image. Framing allows the brain to quickly understand the structure or layout of the image and gives the image a sense of order. Here, the orange border represents an image frame to help the brain understand a rectangular border and structure.
Straight lines imply a sense of order and tidiness whereas crooked or curved lines imply a sense of movement or organized tension. A clever use of lines allows the audience to go through a visual journey stopping at the most intentional and important points on the way.
Scale refers to the deliberate sizing of various elements in your design in order to bring certain elements into focus first and then guiding your readers to follow a certain path. People are naturally drawn to the bigger elements first and then the smaller ones. Scaling is used very often in typography – certain words are written big or bold to draw immediate attention.
The human eye moves across designs, images, websites, and other visual elements in a unique, but often consistent manner. People read in an ‘F’, ‘E’ and ‘Z’ pattern. They ‘skim’ through to see whether it is worth spending time on the design, image or site. This tip is especially important when creating infographics. Try to send across the important aspects of your message in the F, E or Z pattern.
7. Be creative
You can say the same story in a variety of different ways. For example – instead of showing people in a team meeting, you can show a table top with notebooks, pens and coffee mugs. It still paints the same picture but gives an effective and creative spin to it. So, think of different perspectives to display the same theme.
Other things you can do is look for symmetry or repetitive patterns, play with different camera angles, take abstract and candid photos, use reflections of objects, try different lenses, etc. Sky’s the limit when it comes to being creative!
8. Edit Effectively
While using filters is a great way to give your images more of an artistic expression, it may easily become over-saturated. Instead, tweak the shadows, highlights, brightness, contrast and vibrancy of your image to give it a more refined and subtle finish that will make it look as if you just took an amazing, #NoFilter photo. An overly edited photo is not appreciated by today’s audiences.
9. Use Free Tools
It may not be easy to capture new images for every social media post. That’s where free tools come in. There are many free tools on the internet that will allow you to use their HD photos for free or create your own graphic for free. Here’s a list:
- For stock photos:
Pexels, PicJumbo, Gratisography, Pixabay, MorgueFile, Unsplash, Little Visuals, New Old Stock, and Death to the Stock Photo
- For editing and creating graphics:
Canva, Snappa, PicMonkey
We hope these tips will help take your social media photography to the next level! Which tip did you like the most? Let us know in the comments below!