With social media becoming an increasingly important component of a solid marketing strategy, the need for good photos is more prevalent than ever. Potential clients might be looking to see if they want to work with you, prospective employees want to know if they will be a good culture fit, and sharing behind-the-scenes around the office or at events shows there are real people behind the brand!
But without a professional photographer on staff, how can you get these? Get out your phones, these simple steps will outline easy ways to elevate your pictures.
Before snapping away, there are two things you can do off the bat. Clean your lens and find the light!
Clean your lens
This might seem like a ‘duh’ tip, but your phone is constantly being held, shoved in pockets, or passed around. The two pictures above were taken seconds apart. The first was taken with a nice thumbprint on the lens. Look at how the picture is out of focus and the light is distorted. Use a soft cloth to gently clean the lens before any shot.
Find the Light
Have you noticed that some of your pictures seem perfect while others just aren’t quite right? A big factor might be the lighting. The amount of light the camera takes in is measured in ‘exposure’. If you photos are too dark, they are underexposed. If everything looks washed out or too bright, your photos are overexposed.
The best lighting is a natural, diffused light. It looks the most natural by keeping the colors and skin tones true. Overcast days are the best for outdoor photography! The clouds create a natural diffuser that translate beautifully on screen.
Another lighting tip is too make sure you have ‘even light’. This means checking that your subject has the same amount of light all over and there are no glares. The example photos above were taken inside with a glare coming from the right from a window. By shielding the lens, I was able to cut the glare.
You’ve cleaned your lens, found your light, and you’re ready to shoot! But hold on, let’s go over a few best practices to make sure when you actually hit the shutter button, your image is social media ready.
The Rule of Thirds and Using the Grid
The Rule of Thirds is a photography principle that theorizes if an image is divided into 9 equal pieces by a 3×3 grid, a photo becomes more dynamic and engaging when the subject is placed along one of the grid lines or an intersection point or is composed so there is a visual balance between the grid.
Look at how the above photo uses the grid. The 3 objects are placed in a dynamic, diagonal layout with one object per grid space. If there were only 2 objects, try grouping them together at an intersection. This is more easily done if you turn on your camera’s grid settings. This will overlay a 3×3 grid so you can compose your shots.
Another way to use the grid is to check your alignment. Make sure to keep either the horizontal or vertical lines level with the grid. For example, the baseboard in the office, where the ceiling meets the wall, the back of the couch, and the far side of the table are good horizontal guidelines. This small detail is the difference between a mess and a wow.
Where will this image be posted? For example, Instagram feeds have a square crop. Shooting in landscape orientation will make it easier to square crop later. If you’re not sure how you will use the photo yet, a safe bet would be to shoot a few in portrait and landscape with enough background to be cropped out if needed.
On your phone, tap on screen where you want the camera to focus. This will lock the subject into focus to ensure what you want featured isn’t blurry.
The great thing about digital cameras is that you’re not limited by the amount of photos you can take! Play around with different angles- see what happens if you take a picture from a different perspective or move the subject around in the 3×3 grid.
Check it Over
Nothing is worse than taking a bunch of photos and looking at them the next day just to realize only 1 or 2 are usable. Review photos as you take them using this quick checklist so you can make adjustments while you’re shooting:
- Eyes are open
- Subject is in focus
- The vertical/horizontal lines are straight
- There is even, natural lighting
One way brands differentiate there photos is in post-editing. While the photos in this post have not been edited to most accurately show what your phone can do, at PHOS we like bright photos with natural colors. Some of our favorite apps to achieving the bright whites and crisp colors are Snapseed and VSCO.
If you’re at an event and need to take a lot of action shots, consider turning on Burst Mode (found in settings). This lets you hold down the shutter button and take continuous photos.
Don’t Use Zoom
The zoom on your phone is fake. Yep. Phone cameras have a ‘visual zoom’ instead of a true ‘optical zoom’ (unless you have the iPhone 7 Plus which has up to 2x optical zoom capabilities). This means that if you’re relying on the phone’s zoom, it is just blowing up the image on your screen. The result is a blurry mess. Get closer to your subject or crop in post editing instead.
All the images in this post were taken on a 2-year-old Samsung Galaxy S6. But, with any phone, you can instantly give your brand a social media refresh with new images.
However, taking nice images from your phone won’t be of any use if they aren’t in sync with the rest of your brand. Take a look at this checklist of photography do’s and don’ts for marketing to determine whether or not your snapshots benefit your company branding.