Do you know how many images are posted onto Facebook every day? 350 million. Crazy right? 350 million images loaded up every single day. (And that stat is a year old now!)
You need to stand out from the crowd. You need your image to be the one that stops your audience from scrolling so they can read your content, get to know you and engage with you.
There are a couple of things I consider a must do when taking a photo, whether that is a picture of your product or a insight into your life, whether you are using a DSLR or your phone. Use these tips to improve your photography all around.
- TAKE YOUR TIME
Be deliberate. Slow down and have a look at what you are actually taking a photo of.
What is and isn’t being included in the frame? Check that there isn’t anything distracting in the background or foreground. Can you step to the side to remove a rubbish bin or hold your phone up higher so there is less background (like the image below). Can close an open cupboard door or is there a tree growing out of someones head? Is there something drawing your attention away from or obscuring your subject?
In the images above, by holding my phone up higher and tilting it down I have removed the person from the background and also removed the distracting elements of the drinks in the foreground. The little girls is now very much for the focus and subject of the image.
If you can, avoid overhead lights and direct sunlight. These two situations can cast harsh or unflattering shadows over your subject.
Position your subject near a window or add a second light by open another window nearby to reduce shadows and increase the light. By adding a second light I have reduced the shadows under my eyes, made my face appear thinner and evened out my skin tone. There’s no make up changes here, lighting only! If you’re outside, move your subject into open shade so they aren’t squinting and don’t have harsh shadows over their face. Check also that your own shadow isn’t falling over the subject (and isn’t in the frame, see point 1).
If you are taking images of products, either upright or in a flat lay style, then a reflector (white cardboard or signboard) set up on the opposite side to your light source will reduce shadows and increase the light in the scene.
Is your shot straight? One of my pet hates is sloping horizons. If you are taking your time and being deliberate then you should notice whether your are holding your phone at an angle.
For general images try and incorporate the “rule of thirds”, which is pretty much just getting your subject and the horizon out of the centre. this helps add a storytelling element as explained below (and in the Point 4). If it’s a flat lay experiment with a structured grid arrangement or a more free-flowing lifestyle look. Is it balanced? Is everything evenly spaced or are all the elements on one side, pulling your attention away?
Tilting lines (when in reality should be straight) makes the image uncomfortable to view (my eyes are drawn to them rather than the subject). By straightening them up they frame the subject and by having the little girl positioned off centre, it adds space to the image accentuation her size and isolation.
- STYLING / STORYTELLING
To really engage your audience you need to be telling a story. And the simplest way to do this is to give your subject something to do.
An action if it’s a person will create a more dynamic image (and take the shot at the end of the action so they aren’t blurred). Giving them a prop, or set up a scenes and then introduce your subject into it. If it’s a product, how does the customer actually use it? How does it fit into their life? What do they use it with? Include props that add to the story. And remember, be deliberate!
The inclusion of the oversize book takes this from a static picture of a little girl on a chair into a cute, comical shot with even the gumboots adding to the comical nature. In the product image of the scarf, adding a cup of tea, magazine and toast adds to the cozy, comfortable feeling of the handmade scarf (note the use of colour here too).
Our phones (and any camera on Auto) want to average out the exposure of an image to be 18% grey. In a general landscape shot with equal light and dark parts this works quite well but if you’re taking an image at the beach or on a white background it will dull it down. I recommend editing every image, even if it is just to increase brightness and shadows, especially if it’s a flat lay. You can edit your crop and remove any distracting elements… an extreme example below! All this was done on my phone and you can find a full run through on my Instagram Story highlights (see link below).
Be consistent with your editing and try and achieve a cohesive, consistent look.
Remember you are representing your brand when you are sharing images.
I have more in depth tutorials on all of these points on my blog and I add new hints and tips regularly. You can find me at www.ajharringtonphotos.com. My Instagram is also filled with before and afters and step by step editing techniques www.instagram.com/ajharringtonphotos. And please, if you have any questions please reach out! I love to help.
AJ Harrington is a product, website and branding photographer with a base in Mandurah, Western Australia and servicing clients in Perth and over east. AJ has 10 years photographic experience and specialises in capturing the essence of a brand through storytelling. As a visual storyteller, AJ is able to connect brands to their audience by giving a time, place and emotion to the subjects she photographs. She creates visual content that is personally styled and perfect for each client. AJ is a mum-of-one, an Instagram addict, coffee lover and a small business supporter. You can contact her here.