By Emily Crawford – Content Specialist, Learn to Flourish
Have you ever looked at someone’s social media photos and thought, “I wish I could take pictures that looked this good”? What if I told you that you could take beautiful, brand centric photos with no need to purchase any new equipment?
Here’s the deal. We may not all have the time, money, interest, or frankly the talent to become the next Steve McCurry, or Annie Leibovitz. However, if you make a few small, informed changes to what I bet you’re doing already, it won’t be long until you have a plethora of personal images to use in your social media strategy!
These days just about everyone has a smartphone, and if you’re a small business owner, you probably have one too. Most modern smartphones have cameras that will take crisp, beautiful photos that are perfect for social media. Most of the pictures you’ll see in this blog are unedited photos that I’ve taken on my iPhone X of my dog, Artemis, for her Instagram account.
(Bit of a disclaimer, your phone’s photos won’t necessarily look good in print, but they are great for digital use.)
Here’s five simple tips to consider when you’re taking photos in the future.
Photographers use what’s known as the “Rule of Thirds”. This rule involves using a grid to create well balanced photos that draw the eye of the viewer. Studies have shown that when people look at a photo, their eyes are naturally drawn to one of the intersection points of these lines, rather than the center of the photo. Personally, I like to line my subject up right on one of these “intersections” to get my audience’s attention.
Most smartphones have a setting to automatically set up a grid, so you can place items of interest along the lines or intersections of this grid!
If you have an iPhone, simply go to settings – camera – and toggle the slider for “Grid” on the list you find.
Now when you bring up your camera, that grid will automatically pop up as well!
Lighting, lighting, lighting! This one little thing could make your photos SO much better. The beautiful thing is, if you don’t want to spend anything on lighting, all you have to do is be intentional about when you’re taking your photos!
Plan to take your photos when you have good natural light available. So let’s talk quickly about what “good” natural light is and isn’t. Generally speaking, most photographers don’t like taking pictures in the middle of the day because the light is harsh, and creates intense shadows that will show up on your subject.
“Golden Hour” is the hour just after sunrise, and just before sunset. Photos taken during these hours will have a nice, soft, golden effect, and the shadows will be behind your subject, not pooling in awkward places.
“Blue Hour” is the hour just before sunrise, and just after sunset. Without the sun to deal with, you’ll have less awkward shadows, and your photos will have a cooler tint to them.
Personally, I love taking photos on overcast days. The clouds diffuse all the light naturally, while giving you all that great light!
Plan to take a lot of photos! As an amateur photographer, the key to getting a good photo is sometimes just taking a lot to have on hand to choose from. If your subject is in motion, a good plan is taking photos in burst mode.
You can activate burst mode by holding down the capture button on your iPhone, which will give you a series of great action shots to look at later!
You can eliminate a lot of hassle with your photos by preparing ahead of time, and picking a nice, neutral background for your photos. Busy backgrounds create messy, complicated photos, and you run the risk of random trees or buildings oddly interacting with your subject.
(Unless you wanted a fountain shooting out of your head, in that case this photo is a total success!)
When you’re taking photos with your phone, be aware of the shape your phone is in! My phone goes everywhere with me, and often my lens will have finger prints, or something blocking the lens that I might not catch while I’m trying to snap a quick photo. Make sure you clean your lens, so that you are set up to take a great photo!
When you are taking a photo with your phone, make sure that you set your focal point! Your focal point is that little yellow box that pops up on your screen when you are taking a photo. You can change your focal point by tapping on different parts of your screen before you take the picture. Changing your focal point can affect the lighting you see in your photos, as well as helping your audience see your subject more clearly!
In the photo below, you can see I failed to set my focal point, resulting in a great photo of some ugly sticks and leaves, and a bad photo of my intended subject.
Hold down on the screen to lock your focal point in place. You’ll see a yellow box that says “AE/AF LOCK” pop up for however many shots you want to take, and then simply tap the screen to unlock!
Wishing you inspiration, innovation, and continuous learning!
Lorena and the Learn to Flourish Team
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