High-quality visuals are not optional if you want your business to be successful on social media, but you don’t have to be a professional photographer to take great photos for your audience. Whether you’re taking photos on an iPhone, Android or point and shoot camera, here are a few ways you can up your photo game in 2019.
1. Light is the most important part of a photo.
A photo is essentially a record of the incoming pattern of light. Therefore, the first step in taking any photo is adjusting your lighting or your subject. The more light available, the better (and more clear) your photo will be. Focus on putting your subject in natural light, which is bright but diffused, instead of under a bright camera flash or artificial light, which is bright but direct. That direct light is harsh and can create unwanted highlights and shadows and alter colors negatively.
If you can, position your subjects so they're well-lit from the front and not silhouetted by strong light from behind (or “backlit”). If you need help exposing your subject, most phones can auto-expose a photo for you. Simply tap the subject. On iPhone, hold and drag your finger up and down to manually adjust the light. (You want your subject to be brighter than anything else, if possible.)
2. Use gridlines to balance and frame your shot.
Ever heard of the rule of thirds? The rule of thirds is a principle that states that a photo is most appealing when the points of interest placed along lines which divide the image into thirds, both horizontally and vertically. Placing your subject along one of the gridlines with the focal point at the intersection of two lines is the best way to frame your shot, according to professionals. Turn the gridlines of your camera on and see how this new principle of framing can change your photos.
3. Get creative with your subject and composition.
Once you’ve begun playing with the rule of thirds, play with your subject matter itself. Learn to embrace the negative space around your subject-- there’s no need to clutter your image with too much business. When you include a lot of empty space in a photo, your subject will stand out more.
As humans, we crave balance, in life and photos. Look for symmetry where you can, even in a busy setting. In photography, symmetry usually means creating an image that can be divided into two equal parts that are mirror images of each other.
Instead of holding your phone out in front of you and snaping your shot in seconds, take some time to take multiple photos from different angles. Try your hand at flat lays or “bird’s eye view,” (great for desk shots, coffee shop shots, and product photography). This angle can also help you frame your shot in more interesting ways. A “high angle” is not quite as extreme as the bird’s eye view, but makes your subject look more vulnerable and is often a more attractive angle for photos of people. A low angle can make your subject the “hero,” looking larger than lift. To spice up your photos, simply choose the most unusual angle.
Want a little more? Try an external lens that clips onto your smartphone. Fish-eyes and wide-angle lenses can bring new quality and perspective to your photos.
4. Don't be afraid to edit.
After you’ve taken a great photo, it’s time to get it ready for posting. Editing your photos is the next step -- an important one, at that. Editing your photos in post-production helps you adjust lighting, color and remove any unwanted blemishes in your photo. Don’t get overwhelmed, editing can be easy (and fun!) once you get the hang of it.
Try to shy away from filters native to Instagram/Twitter/Facebook to edit your photos. While they can be adjusted, they are too harsh and you will not have control over all the effects. The color grading in the filters is not as natural or appealing as filters on other apps. Some favorite apps for editing are VSCO, Snapseed, Photoshop Fix and Lightroom CC.
5. Last but not least, practice makes perfect!
The first step in taking better photos is learning your camera. Pick up your phone or point and shoot and spend some time learning its settings. Take photos of nothing, everything, and anything until you understand how it works best for you. Then, begin brainstorming subjects to photograph and take as many photos as you can until you finally feel comfortable behind the lens.
If you need some content inspiration before you start taking photos, head to Pinterest or Instagram and see what the pros are doing. Get inspired and try to channel your inner Instagram photographer when you pick up your camera.
Taking photos can be daunting if you’re not used to taking them. With these principles (and a little faith in yourself!) you can take your best pictures EVER in 2019.