Taking photos has become exceedingly easy with the proliferation of smartphone cameras and easy to use image-editing software. But taking good photos is still considered an art-form and taking careful consideration in your social media photography can make the difference between a “good” and “great” post.
Lighting and Composition
When shooting, consider your subject. Be it a mailbox, or the president of the United States, the main focus of your image should be completely in frame and well lit.
Be sure to light your subject from the front, (however this is not a hard and fast rule as on-camera flashes can be extremely unflattering at times) or from the side. The most flattering light is often natural light, so positioning yourself in-between the subject and (not directly in front of) a light-source is a good rule of thumb.
As far as composition goes… Placing your subject at the extreme bottom, top, or side of an image is normally not the best solution to achieving your goal. It can be though, adding text for instance requires a lot of uncluttered space for placing text, so you may end up with a subject near the edge of the frame in that specific case.
If you arent editing text into an image… A good rule of thumb for composition that is as old as photography itself, is the rule of thirds. This simple rule divides the frame into three vertical and three horizontal sections with invisible lines. Where the lines intersect should be where the focus of the image is. The rule is not strict, and a face in the center of the frame can also be aesthetically pleasing, however there is still something to be said for this photographic tradition.
Pure Image Quality (Get a DSLR)
Pixelated images, images that are too small, images that aren’t properly formatted, and images that you can’t really make out at all do literally nothing for your social media presence. Making sure your images are of a professional quality in terms of file size is relatively easy though.
Buying a DSLR for your social media team is a good start. These pro-sumer grade cameras sometimes output images in commonly understood formats such as .JPEG by default. Images will also be of a considerable size and pixel density, ensuring high fidelity.
A DSLR is definitely not a requirement though! Camera phones have progressed to a point where they produce very clear images. (So all the other guidelines in this post still apply if you use an iPhone!)
A quick formatting tip is to be sure that images meet 800×800 pixels AT MINIMUM. This format will fit most social media site restrictions and ensure a large enough image on most screens (without being overly large).
Stock photography is great for a lot of things however, you’re always better off producing original images that show the unique flavor of your business. Stock photography can come off as sterile or disingenuous, which is the antithesis of what you want your viewership to think on social media.
This doesn’t mean you CAN’T use stock photos on your Facebook or Twitter page, but you should be primarily using original work. The genuine feel and the specific information relevant to your business will shine through your work (provided you follow other steps in this article) and give your viewership a more complete picture of your overall message.
Pair with Good Text
A picture is worth a thousand words, but pairing your pictures with relevant text adds tone and depth to your posts.
A picture of a half completed chimney can mean two things: destruction of the chimney just occurred due to storm damage or other calamity; or the chimney is halfway through being restored and the image is meant as a progress-shot.
Text makes the difference between celebration and calamity in some cases. So be mindful of what context you post images in, and also of what images appear next to each other in image galleries.
Things to Avoid (We’ve Seen Them All)
There are no prescribed rules in photography… but as a business there definitely some laws of social etiquette that you should abide by.
Profanity and obscene gestures are distinctly unprofessional and should be avoided for obvious reasons.
Unprofessional clothing. This can tie into the above topic concerning profanity, or it can include cartoon images or logos on clothing. Be mindful of what everyone within the frame is wearing. An image can be great however, if an employee happens to wear an article of clothing displaying grumpy cat, the image can be ruined.
Defaming another business is never a good idea even though it might seem like on at the time. Followers will recoil against images that are steeped in hate or vengeance because we as a people naturally gravitate towards positive posts online. (Hence the rise of cat photos across the internet.)
A good principle to follow is the “New York Times Test” which means that when you are about to post anything on social media, imagine you are putting it on the front page of the NYT. This will make you think twice about some ideas and make you stop and consider something with your best judgement.