How to Up Your Visual Marketing Game and Take Better Photos
It's no secret that in order to grow social media platforms, good photos are essential. You may have great captions, but without an eye-catching visual no one will ever read them. You may have a really great theme for your social media (food, lifestyle, family) but if your photos are just unstyled snapshots from your camera roll that resemble anyone’s else camera roll, chances are you’re not going to get noticed. I receive a lot of questions about how I take my photos, what editing apps and tools I use, and what’s my overall strategy. I’m laying it all out for you here in this post on how I up my visual marketing game and take better photos for Instagram, Facebook, and my website. First off, you do not need a professional DSLR camera and fancy lenses to get good photos and up your visual marketing game. A simple smartphone (I take all my photos with an iPhone 11) will do. You’re not trying to win Time Magazines Photos of the Year, you are simply trying to capture more visually appealing images. Second of all, you don’t have to be nor do you have to hire a photographer to take all your photos, you also don’t need a content manager in order to start pushing out photos. All you need is your smartphone and to follow these photography tips for your business. So with that in mind, you don’t need to strive for perfection, you will get better with practice; progress is what we are looking for here. Photography Tips to Up Your Visual Marketing Game: Use a non-distracting background A clean, non-distracting background is a necessity whether you are trying to take photos of food or yourself. A simple way to get a “clean white background” for food photos is to buy two white posterboards and tape the backs together so that it’s shaped like an L and set it up near a window for natural lighting. This little trick will make your food photos “pop” and doesn’t require you to have the perfect Martha Stewart kitchen.
Find a simple well lit wall in your home (you can style and add props if you want) and use this as your background. Or when you are out and about, start looking for clean photo opportunities and either set up your iPhone or ask someone to snap a picture of you.
Lighting is key Natural lighting is the most flattering for photos. Set your camera up in a window, or in a well-lit area and face the window/light, this will eliminate shadows. The same goes for taking photos outside, noon and early afternoon is often the harshest light of the day as it’s directly above you and creates shadows on your face. Early morning, evening (“the golden hour”), or cloudy day lighting is going to give the best results. Always look for the best lighting when you are taking photos, bad lighting (i.e. harsh midday outdoor light, dim orangy inside light) is going to bring the quality of the photo down when you go to edit. Know your angles Get in front of the mirror or even better —turn on your forward-facing camera and practice posing. Start by slowly moving your head from one side to the other in each direction and then tilt it from side to side. Then bring your chin slowly down and slowly up observing all the angles of your face and decide which one is most flattering for you. You can do the same with your body. Keep in mind the feeling you want to evoke depending on what your brand communicates. Also, remember the power of 3s. The subject should be on either side of the photo for an asymmetrical image or dead center. The grid on your smartphone is there to help with this. Filters & Editing To create a cohesive look and feel for your visual marketing content, invest in filters for your photos and videos. I use Lightroom mobile to edit all my photos, it’s an easy free app you can download on your phone. Also, you can find lightroom presets (filters) on either etsy (very affordable) or by following your favorite travel or fashion influencers (they are usually selling their presets). You can then add the presets to your lightroom mobile app and use their editing tools to adjust the photos. There are a lot of tutorials on youtube to help you learn simple editing. Alternatively, some other great photo editing apps that come with filters within (and filters you can buy within the app) are snapseed and VSCO (the filter A8 is great for an editorial look).
For video filters, I use the creator hub app to create a consistent brand identity/look and feel for all of the videos you see on my social media platforms (i.e IGTV). I upload my video or record in the app, add a filter that I bought on the app, make a few slight adjustments, and then export the video in high quality. I can do this all in 60 seconds or less, it’s that simple!
How much time does it take?
I take between 1-12 photos using different angles and lenses on the iPhone 11. Portrait mode is always my go-to for a “professional photo” as it blurs the background. Then it’s a 1 click edit, adjust exposure and reduce shadows if I need to and straighten the photo if I prefer. Then I schedule the post in Later (a scheduling app that will post for you). Takes 90 seconds or less. Videos are between 3-5 minutes. I record and then edit with a filter then post. Takes less than 10 minutes overall considering download and upload speeds.
Simply scroll through my Instagram feed and you will begin to notice how I implement all these tips for my visual marketing strategy. I am, by no means a professional photographer, and I am constantly learning, growing, and improving in my photo taking skills for brand and business every day and so can you.
P.S. Watch my FREE training: How to Go From Corporate Job to Self-Employed in 90 Days WITHOUT Fear of Failing to learn more about what it takes and what you need to start a business.