So you know you need to be blogging every week and you know you need to be posting on social media multiple times every day. But I’m guessing one of the things slowing you down and keeping you from posting consistently is your images. Specifically taking your own photos that look somewhat professional, well styled, and on-brand.
The good new is, you don’t need to take photography classes and you don’t even need to invest in a fancy-pants camera (I have one and I haven’t used it in YEARS). You can take great looking photos, on a budget, with what you already have – your smart phone!
Here’s how . . .
Create an image template first
If you’re taking photos to create branded graphics for Pinterest or Twitter, then it’s important to know what you’ll be doing with your photos BEFORE you shoot them. Play around with stock photos (StockSnap.io + PhotoPin are great resources) or take test photos of what you think you’ll need and to see what works best.
Take photos during the day
When you’ve got a plan for the types of photos that will work best, find a spot near a window to shoot. Sunlight is going to be your best friend if you want to avoid purchasing a lighting kit (like this) or investing in a DSLR. (Even then, natural light is going to be your best bet.) If you’re inside, place whatever you’re photographing near or facing a window, but not in direct light. And if you’re outside, shoot photos in the morning or early evening when the sun is less harsh, wait for a cloud to cover the sun and diffuse the light, or step into a shadow to avoid squinting or overly bright/contrasted photos.
The white background photo
Ah, the all-important stuff-on-a-white-background photo, aka a “flat lay.” Here’s how to make it happen . . . First, get yourself a piece of white foam core. Next place it near a window (again not in direct sunlight). Then hold your camera directly over what you want to shoot. Sometimes I adjust where I’m standing to help eliminate shadows. (Adjusting the brightness and contrast in an editing tool will also help with this – I’m sharing what I use at the bottom of this post.) If you’re a shorty like me, going full-on blogger and getting on a chair is very helpful.
Make sure to shoot lots of photos. Add and remove items, turn your camera to get different angles, shoot closer and further away. You want to have lots of options to play with when you’re creating graphics.
Look for things with your brand colors
Anytime I’m out and about, I’m always spotting things that are coral, orange, and lime, and I either buy them or take a photo. I have an entire bag full of random office supplies in my brand colors and a file of random photos. Doing this helps to create a stockpile of images I can use on the days I don’t feel like taking photos, I’m not leaving my apartment, or it’s too gloomy to shoot anything of quality.
Use a selfie stick
I know, I know, you’re probably rolling your eyes at this one. But I’m telling you, a selfie stick is a great tool to have. How many times have you handed your camera to someone else only to realize later the photos they took were 100% unfit for the internet. Unless you’re just looking for a nice photo to add to your family album, you need to be able to compose the shot. Using a selfie stick allows me to take photos that don’t look like I’m shooting them myself or include a lot more people and scenery.
My mom sent me this one as a joke, but I LOVE IT. Folds up and fits in pretty much every bag I carry.
Here’s a secret – sometimes when I post photos of myself, it’s actually a still from a video. If I can’t get the photo to look the way I like with a selfie stick, then I set it on a tripod like this, get in front of the camera, and shoot a little video of myself holding various poses. Yes, this sounds ridiculous even as I write it, but if you don’t have a helpful significant other and your dog hasn’t mastered taking your photos yet, this is a really easy option. (Bonus: that tripod is excellent for shooting live on Facebook / Instagram / Twitter video as well!)
Shoot from a bunch of different angles
Crouch down to get under your subject or stand on a chair to shoot from above. Take wide photos and close-up photos. You don’t have to include everything in your picture – sometimes cutting off someone’s head helps to put the focus on their hands or feet. Take photos from every angle – especially when you’re shooting for Instagram. A photo may look great on your phone but need to be cropped to look more interesting in the Instagram grid. If you have lots of options, you’ll be more likely to have a winner.
Most importantly – edit
If you’re like me and have zero to passable photography skills, you definitely want to learn to use an editing program to improve your blog + social media images. As you can see by the photo below, taking two minutes to adjust the brightness, contrast, and saturation makes a HUGE difference. Because I always take photos on my iPhone, my go-to editing app is VSCO Cam. Don’t adjust little by little – move those sliders waaaaay to the right or left to see what looks best.
Taking great photos for your blog + social media boils down to one thing – practice! Make a point to take five photos every single day no matter if you’re out and about or home parked on the couch reading. Learning how to make the ordinary special is something those big bloggers are VERY good at. And by working on your shooting + editing skills, you can totally do it too!