Capture the things you love! This way of thinking is the very basis on my social media photography style. The way I see it, photography is the art of freezing a moment the way that yousee it and I have always found that my best pictures are of sights that I truly love. Loved ones, breath-taking views, chocolate, a room, it doesn’t matter what it is, if you love it. If you love what you see, you will achieve a much better image. Try to think about what it is that you love about your subject. Is it their eyes? Perhaps it’s the way the orange horizon meets the deep blue of the sea? Maybe, it’s the way the light shines off something? Think about how your image can best show these qualities.
Let me show you an example and break down my process
Here’s an example from my visit to Dimpsey Glamping in Somerset. I jumped out of the car with my camera, as I wanted to try to capture my reaction to seeing the hut for the first time. I was so excited, but I was also a little travel weary and cold. (It was December.) I clearly remember the icy rain and it was blowing an absolute gale. Mr VC opened the hut door, and cosy just exploded from within. There had never been a more welcome sight. So, let’s break it down. What did I love?
- The contrast of the grey and cold outside, with the warm and inviting inside, was a feast for my eyes and lens.
- I was excited by the way the light created a beautiful stripe as it fell on the corrugated roof.
- The vintage charm of the accessories, both inside, and out was a sight for sore eyes.
- You see the weathered pattern on the outside wood? That rocked my world.
- How could I not be absolutely smitten with the stable door, which reminded me so much of my childhood kitchen in the Wicklow mountains.
Now, that might seem like a lot of observation for a 10 second glance, but once you start thinking this way, I promise that recognition of these things happens more quickly every time. My speed of thought is the result of a lot of photography. Once I knew what I wanted to capture, it was easier for me to experiment with angles and settings that captured all of those things and to know when I had the right shot.
The above feeds absolutely into this. There is no point in taking pictures of something that you love, if you’re intending to make it look like someone else’s social media photography. I am so passionate about this.
Your pictures are as good as theirs.
They are just different. If you obliterate all of ‘you’ from your pictures, your images will disappear into the void of image-a-likes. What I mean by ‘you’ is your view of the world, if you’re imitating composition, angles, editing style and so on from someone else, that’s not your image anymore and that wonderful unique moment has been lost. Whether you’re using your images to sell your products or capture special moments in your life, the images will not serve your purpose. I know it’s scary. I know you might feel that you’re not as good as that person, but you are.
When I was shortlisted at The Photography Show in March, I was so embarrassed, I really was. I thought that the fact that my pictures didn’t look like everyone else’s was a weakness, that I didn’t deserve to be there. Not only did I go on to win, but when I spoke to people there and the visitors to the gallery, so many said that it was my difference in style that made my images stand out. I am fast learning that what we often see as our weakness is more often our strength. Believe in yourself. (I’m a hypocrite and I know it.)
Use a Reflector
A reflector is a very inexpensive piece of kit that really makes a difference to your social media photography. They come in many sizes, and I have three that range from dinner plate size to dining table size. They are invaluable in maximising your light, lightening shadows and avoiding unnatural lighting sources as much as possible. The fact is, that social media photography needs to look like life. People need to connect to your life and elaborate lighting is not true to life.A simple Amazon search will reveal a whole range of sizes and budgets. I suppose you’re wondering why I have three? Having more than one allows me to bounce light in different directions and the different covers that you can get allow opportunity to experiment.
I mostly stick to the silver reflector as I like the lift it gives to my pictures. The different sizes also suit different spaces and jobs. I use my small reflector for portraits and products and my largest is really good for interior social media photography. The best way to figure out how to use it is experimentation, but I would advise exploring the angle of the reflector (You will see when you’re directing the light correctly) but also looking at closeness of it to your subject too. Remember, the closer the reflector, the more intense the effect. I will be posting a reflector tutorial very soon, so let me know if you make a purchase and will be joining me.
Get to know Photoshop
It’s scary, there’s loads of confusing names and buttons. However, if you persevere, you will be delighted. The ability to adjust your pictures gives you more opportunity to create original social media photography that really captures what you love. There will be a beginner’s tutorial coming soon where we will be going over the basic functions. In the meantime, I would advise downloading the Photoshop Express iPhone app, which is a simplified version that is really easy to use and a good way into the full program. If you’re stuck just get in touch and I will lend you a hand.
Get off Auto
It’s so wonderful to see so many Instagram users purchasing rangefinder and DSLR cameras. Though, I have to say that many of you are taking wonderful pictures, it appears to be in auto, The auto mode on a camera is a great way to familiarise yourself with your camera and to begin playing around with composition, but you absolutely have to make the leap to controlling your images. The auto mode does a good job based on what it knows. What the hell does a camera know? It’s a camera! It doesn’t appreciate the aspects of the image that you love, it doesn’t know what you want your image to look like. You have to make that leap. If you stay in auto you are doing a huge disservice to yourself and the capability of your expensive bit of kit!
It’s quite an in-depth topic and can be scary alone. I am launching a webinar, to go through this with you. However, if you are determined to hit the ground running, I am offering four hour, one to one beginners photography lessons for just £110 (Usual price £125), if they are booked after reading this post with code ‘READTHEBLOG’. During this session, you will be able to be guided through your camera and choice of subject in the glorious Worcestershire countryside and I can support your intentions with my knowledge and experience.
Let me know if you’ve found this post useful and if you have any photography post requests.