Step-by-step guide for taking great photos for social
Visuals are becoming increasingly important on social media these days. Did you know that 90% of the information transmitted to the brain is visual? Did you also know that people process visual information 60,000 times faster than text? Considering that, on average, people only spend 1.7 seconds with a piece of content on Facebook and news feeds are increasingly full of noise, it’s crucial for businesses to create content that stops their audience dead mid-scroll.
But where do you start? What should your firm be taking photos of? What equipment do you need? Well here’s a step-by-step guide to creating great social media-worthy photos using just your phone.
What should you take photos of?
Before you start shooting, it’s important to have in mind the type of content you want to share with your audience, which comes from knowing who your audience are and what content they respond best to. Think about what you are trying to achieve with your content. Are you mainly focused on generating awareness of your firm, or are you looking to drive clicks through to your website? This will help give focus to your overall visual content plan.
Knowing what works well may involve some trial and error, but from experience, we have found that photos from events, awards or the team getting involved with charity days tend to get the best engagement. It might be worth setting up a calendar for events so you can plan ahead and make sure that someone is ready to take a few photos for social media.
Setting up your shot
Once you know what you’re going to be taking photos of, there are a few top tips to make sure you get the best out of your camera phone:
- To HDR or not HDR
HDR (or High Dynamic Range) is a feature on many camera phones which, in theory, helps you to take better photos. In HDR mode, when you click the red button the camera takes three images at once, all at different exposures and pushes them together into one image in order to highlight the best parts of the photo. However, this is best used in situations where there is lots of sunlight, when there is low lighting or back lighting, or if you are taking photos of landscapes. It’s best to keep your HDR switched off for situations where there is lots of movement, there is a high contrast between light and dark or when there are lots of vivid colours.
- Landscape or portrait
Keep in mind the platform to which you will be sharing the photos and how they will appear in people’s news feeds (more on that later) in order to minimise the risk of your photos being cut off. Whichever mode you’re using, make sure you use the ‘rule of thirds’ guideline when composing your photo. Many phones have a ‘grid feature’ within the camera app which lays a grid over your screen so, it can divide the image into thirds and you can place the subject on one of those sides, instead of in the center, which can help you to create well balanced and interesting shots.
If you’re looking to take a group photo, but you’re not keen on the selfie look, then invest in a tripod for your phone. These can be picked up fairly cheaply and can be folded away to fit neatly into a bag or pocket. These are great for capturing group photos and can help if you’re not confident keeping the camera steady or level. If your photo has a remote button, use this to take your photo once it’s set up, or set a timer which gives you long enough to set the shot up before your phone automatically takes a photo.
Editing your photos
Before you share your photos to social media, there are a few things you should double check before uploading.
- Check your photos for mistakes
Probably one of the most important things you can do is to check the foreground and background of your photos for things you didn’t want to capture. For example, there may be a sign in the background that you don’t want in your photo, or perhaps someone’s arm is in the foreground which ruins the look of the photo. You should check this at the time of taking the photo, but if you forget, there are apps such as ‘Retouch’ which allow you to remove unwanted elements from your photos.
- If you like it then you should have put a filter on it
Not necessarily true. Filters can help improve the look of your images, but for ‘off the cuff’ photos, it’s sometimes best to keep them looking as natural as possible. If you’re going to use a filter, for example if you’re setting up an Instagram account, we’d suggest sticking to the same filter for all your photos as this sets the tone and gives your feed a ‘look’.
- Image sizes
Each social media platform has different guidelines on the best image size to use whether that’s for background or profile images or sharing photos to your feed. Depending on which platform you are sharing to, it’s always worth checking the recommended dimensions before uploading. This will help stop images being automatically cropped or stretched in your feed. Check out this guide to social media image sizes.
Sharing your photos
When you’re ready to share your photos, there are some final touches that you will want to add to optimise your post so that it reaches as many people in your audience as possible and maximises the chance of engagement.
- Caption this
Don’t just share your photo with no context, as this will make your audience frustrated. Adding a caption will not only explain to your audience what is happening in the photo but can also help rank your post for certain keywords. We’re not talking War and Peace, just a few simple lines will do.
Speaking of keywords, using hashtags is also very important to maximise the reach of your post. Really think about the hashtags that you’re using and make sure that they are relevant to you as a firm and to what’s happening in the photo. If you’re at an event, see if there is a hashtag associated with it, or if you’re promoting a service think about using hashtags related to what you do. If you’re still not sure, check out other similar posts for inspiration.
- Tag your friends
Don’t forget to tag other people in your photo. Tagging people is a great way of starting conversations with your followers. If you meet someone at an event and you tag them in your photo, they will get a notification to say that you’ve tagged them. Nine times out of 10 they will respond in some way by either re-sharing, liking or commenting on your photo, which in turn pushes your content in front of their followers and widens your audience.