Shooting photography for social media can seem a little daunting because your posts are basically going up against those of influencers – who have tens of thousands of followers – and seem to get an unachievable amount of likes on each post. These influencers also have a lot more time on their hands than the typical PR, who might have numerous accounts to manage at the same time. Posting beautiful pictures on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook etc for multiple brands can seem like the impossible task but as we all know, a well curated, on brand, and consistent looking social account can be a fantastic foundation for the wider marketing activities for a company. I work with many brands here in Dubai (Scoopi, Sugarmoo, Wendy’s, Cafe B to name but a few), and over time I have learnt that there are a few things to think about (or not), when getting the perfect shots. Here’s six tips to make life a little easier for you…
1: Keep It Simple
The product you’re shooting needs to be the hero of the shot, not the pretty wallpaper or the flowers that someone suggested will look nice in the background. Obviously, make sure that the colours match in the frame, but make sure there is nothing in there that will take the attention away from your product. It’s good to use props, but make sure they’re not bigger, more interesting or draw the viewers eye more than the product you are shooting. It’s easier to add things in than take them away, so start simple and then build from there. Most of the time, when you look back at your shots, the earlier ones will be the keepers.
As a follow on from the above, and in some ways contradictory, (sorry about that), have a think about props for your shots and what could maybe enhance your images. For a coffee shop I recently shot for, we placed a magazine in the corner of the image and a hint of a computer to show a lifestyle feel, and for food photography, could having some of the raw ingredients of a strawberry cheesecake somewhere in the image help convey the taste? As above, keep it simple and don’t clutter the frame, also, make sure the props you use are relevant.
3: Plan Ahead
Before you start to shoot anything, sit with your team, your brand and ideally the photographer to understand the look and feel of what you’re after before you pick up the camera. Look through Instagram and make a mood board of pictures and accounts that you like and want to mimic. It’s much easier to achieve a consistent look and feel when there is a clear cut palette of colours, angles (top down / 90 degrees), and also an idea of lighting. These may sound like things for a photographer to worry about, but everything will run much smoother with these elements agreed before the shoot. Even if you’re shooting this on your own with an iPhone, planning will save time and help with consistency.
Lighting is key for all good photography, and this is especially true if you’re shooting with an iPhone on a budget for social. Start paying attention to light wherever you are… how do the shadows look? Are they harsh? Are they soft? Is the space you are shooting in only lit by unnatural light such as you get in a mall? As a really basic rule, natural indirect sunlight works best for food, and for products, you need a but more thought to get that polished look. It’s genuinely amazing what can be shot on a phone with two simple table lamps and a couple of pieces of white card, and obviously this only gets better with the more professional equipment you have access to. Also, if you’re shooting outside, avoid the middle of the day with direct sunlight and aim for the start of the day or the end of the day (the golden hours for photography). All of the above is worth considering, and next time you look at a photograph, try to think about where the light source is, what the shadows are doing, and how you could replicate this. Honestly, the more you think about this and notice the light, the better your images will be.
5: Editing – PUT THOSE FILTERS DOWN!
This section is down to taste, as is all photography, and everyone has a different idea of what is acceptable in regards to filters and editing. Speaking personally, I like to try and keep the images as natural as possible, and not add too much of a filter to an image. It can be very frustrating when you’ve edited an image and when a brand posts the image on Instagram, the colours are completely off because of the filters that have been added. Like I say, this is completely down to taste, and if this is what the brand wants, then sure, go ahead and do it. But just be careful. If you want a consistent look and feel to your feeds, a whole range of filters used on a page can make things feel disjointed. Editing is an art, and a lot of photographers even use external sources to edit their images as they appreciate that taking photographs and editing are two separate skills to have. As a rule, learn how to use a program like Lightroom to colour correct your images, and make sure that things are consistent.
6: Hire a professional
If all of the above seems like too much to get to grips with (let’s face it, you’re probably busy enough right now), seriously think about hiring a professional to take your social images for you. You can shoot these in batches over the year to ensure you have enough content to keep your brands social feeds full, and also schedule ahead of time so it turns into a monthly task rather than a daily one. With proper planning and execution, there is no reason that social photography needs to be a headache. Also, if you can, try to work with the same photographer on a long term basis to help get better rates, and also so the photographer understands your brands, understands you and so that everyone can grow together.
Mark Field – – Ex-PR turned photographer based in the Middle-East.