There was a time when the predominant reason for taking photographs was to get them printed and archive them, either in a photo album or a shoebox. Nowadays the number one reason to take a photo is to post it on social media. The difference is that today, way more people are likely to see our photos, and ‘like’ them or comment on them, or even repost them.
Assuming that we want to be conscientious social media users, and only share our very best images, how do we go about creating photographs that are more worthy of sharing? Today I’m going to give 15 tips to help you create better photos for your social media, and get more feedback on them.
1. Get closer
We often get caught between two stools when we’re out and about and we take a photo of friends or family. We want to take a nice photo of the people themselves for sure, but we often try to incorporate too much of the background at the same time. More people and less background is pretty much always a good thing, so get as close as you can to your subjects so that those happy expressions are unmissable.
2. Shoot people
Without question, photographs of people stand out more than almost any other photo on a social media feed. Our brains are actually hardwired to scan for human faces, being the social animals that we are. An awesome (tightly cropped) photo of your incredibly cute kid is social media dynamite.
3. Always consider the light
No matter what you’re photographing lighting is one of the most important considerations. The right light makes things more interesting, more beautiful and more dramatic. For more on how to find great light, read this post. Or else read the next tip.
4. Get outside
It is much more difficult to find good lighting indoors than it is outdoors, so shoot more when you’re outside than in. Plus you’re way more likely to find interesting scenes and scenarios when you get out of the house.
5. Expressions matter most
Over and above all other aesthetic considerations (lighting, form, composition), the thing that will draw viewers to your image is a great expression, like a beaming smile. I always keep this in mind when I’m editing wedding photos; if someone isn’t smiling or crying, the image is probably not worth delivering.
6. Cute Wins, Everytime
People are suckers for cuteness. If you don’t believe me, take a photo of the next 5 puppies you meet on the street and post them to your feed. Sit back and watch your internets melt down.
7. Make It Pop
If you have the option, it’s always worth applying a filter to your image before you post it. The genius of Instagram, in my opinion, is the ability to apply filters that actually make your images look much more interesting. If you can make your image really pop with rich, saturated colours or deeply contrasting tones of black and white, it is much more likely to get noticed.
8. Shoot great landscapes
One of the most popular genres on Instagram is landscape photography. Maybe it’s just that I follow a lot of Canadian feeds and we in Canada are surrounded by the great outdoors. If you’re the type who likes to get out into the backcountry, start shooting some landscapes while you’re out there and post them to your social networks. You may not get the same reaction as the puppy shots, but if you post them during the week when people are on their lunch break, you’ll tap into that craving for more freedom that we all have.
9. Find an interesting angle
One of the best ways to make your images stand out is to find an interesting angle, and I mean that literally. Show people something they’ve seen before, but try to frame it in a new and interesting way. I wrote in my last piece about using lots of negative space, which can be a really effective technique.
10. Tell A Story
People love a good story. If you can tell a story through your photography then you will draw people in like moths to a flame. For more on how to tell stories with your images, read this piece.
11. Build a following
We all love a little feedback on our photos, right? Well if you want to get more feedback you need to build a following so that you can get more eyes on your images. And one of the best ways to build a following is…..
12. Give love to get love
If you comment on other people’s images they are way,way more likely to comment on your images, so don’t be shy. And try and say something specific about the shot rather than something generic like ‘Great shot!’. Mention the lighting, the expression, the composition, the subject matter, anything that shows that you put some thought into the comment.
13. What excites your tribe?
Take note of what others in your network are posting and commenting on. It’s likely that you’ll notice patterns in terms of what the popular subjects are. Some people are crazy about poutine, or vintage bikes or sunsets. So figure out what your people are crazy about and post photos of that.
14. Post regularly
If you want to become an established member of any community, you need to have a regular presence within that community. This is as true online as it is in the real world. So if you want to get feedback on your photos, make sure you’re posting regularly, at least two or three times a week. That way you can build up trust among your network, and people will start to feel like they know you a little bit, which means they are much more likely to connect.
15. Be inspired – shoot what you love
Much as I stand behind the advice to post regularly, I also know that this is one of the biggest challenges to establishing ourselves online. It can be really tough to come up with two or three strong photos a week. The best way to overcome this is to shoot things that you genuinely feel passionate about. It’s much easier to get yourself motivated to get out and photograph something that interests you, rather than something you feel lukewarm about.