The Guide To Great Social Media Photos

By Libby Turner     |     August 01, 2013
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As social networks evolve, photos remain the most important and engaging pieces of content. The impact of photos on social media continues to rise, and we’ve begun to learn what about photography gets fans to comment, like and share. Below are some tips to consider when capturing image content, and how to make them into great social media photos.

Rule of Thirds & Angles

Leveraging the rule of thirds will always produce more interesting visuals. The more interesting the visual, the greater the likelihood that it will produce reaction on social media. The rule of thirds encourages you to position the subject in either the left or right third of the image. Try to avoid centering the subject of your photo unless it is absolutely necessary.

Additionally, another trick to making interesting photos is the orientation of the camera. Try shooting the subject from below or above to create a more interesting and engaging photo. Not only will the subject be more interesting, but the background is enhanced as well.  Shooting from different angles sometimes results in the photographer getting in strange positions, but the end result is often worth it.

Here is a picture of my cat that illustrates the rule of thirds, and a bit of angle shooting. How cute is she?

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Lighting

Adjust your ISO settings to capture more or less light depending on your environment. The great news is that most cameras (phone cameras include), have ISO settings that are easy to adjust. With ISO’s rule of thumb to keep in mind is: The darker your surroundings, the higher you want your ISO setting, while the brighter your surroundings (filled with light), the lower you want your ISO setting

Here are a few other lighting tips to help get the best shot: Make sure people are front lit to ensure fewer shadows on faces. Also, natural light nearly always takes a better picture, so rely on that whenever possible.

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Background & Style

The background setting is one of the greatest opportunities to subtly communicate things about your brand. However, it does depend greatly for each brand. Certain brands or company types may have great settings at their disposal, while others may not.

Let’s use a dentist office as an example to demonstrate how to start brainstorming great locations and backgrounds:

In the lobby with the doctor and/or staff. This puts a face on the brand and communicates friendliness and approachability.

In the patient/treatment room. This communicates the high-tech nature of a modern dentist office.

Outside the building with the brand sign in the background. This demonstrates where the location is and incorporates the branding.

At company sponsored events or events brand representatives attend. This helps communicate the incorporation of your brand into the community.

Photo Opportunities

Here are the moments you might consider taking a photo to share on social networks. Let’s continue the example of the dentist office. Here are some opportunities they could take advantage of:

Educational moments. This is a great fit for the dentist office, so they can educate their fans about dental health.

Special events. We mentioned this already, but these are great opportunities. Make sure to capture a lot of shots to choose from.

Unique moments. Capturing staff or customers doing something that would be beneficial to share on social networks (laughing about a joke, the doctor being silly, etc.).

Funny moments. Humor always does well on social networks, so if it is appropriate, it might be great to share. It can also put a lighthearted and approachable spin on the brand.

Key milestones for the brand or fans. These can be company milestones: (anniversaries, new services, etc.) or milestones in dental care: (getting braces off, teeth whitening, etc.).

Bonus Resources

Here are some additional things to keep in mind when taking photos for social media use:

  • Take a shot at least three times to give yourself options to choose from.
  • Always make sure the photo is in focus. Blurry shots cannot be posted on social media because the quality distracts from the overall purpose of the photo.
  • Cropping is your best friend and a great final touch. Consider testing what you could crop out of the shot to make an overall better and more focused photo.
  • Guide your subjects: Have people turn 45 degrees if they want to appear thinner. Give them feedback about their posture and hand positions as they often forget about what they are doing.
  • Give the subject specific facial expressions, beyond ‘smile’. The more specific you are, the more likely you will get a shot you like and communicates what you want it to.

Free tools available on your phone:

Instagram: this mega app really is a wonderful tool to manipulate photos, make certain subjects stand out, and overall make more interesting pictures. Additionally, you can browse other photos to generate ideas for yourself or your brand.

Afterlight: gives you a myriad of tools to help make photos look better. They include: clarifying, brightness, contrast, color saturation, exposure, highlights, and a lot of out-of-the-box filters. Additionally, you can crop and swap image components. Overall it’s fun to play with and really makes for more interesting photos.

Pic Stitchallows you to incorporate several photos into a well organized collage. This can be very helpful when there are many things that you want to show fans, but you only have one image to communicate it all.

Overgramseen photos with text on them, but unsure how the brand/user did it outside of Photoshop? It’s likely that they are using a tool like Overgram. This is our personal favorite, because of the customization, great fonts, positioning and artwork that you can add to an image.

About Libby Turner

Libby is living her dream of working with dynamic brands. Having always been (admittedly) a lover of brands and their unique voices, she greatly enjoys the ability to use her expertise to shape their digital strategies. She began her as a site producer for AOL working with the now content giant on developing their vast blog network. From there she honed her knowledge base on software development and utilizing digital tactics to market B2B and B2C software and mobile apps. Having worked with multiple franchise organizations like she is the resident expert in helping brands roll out location-minded digital executions.

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