The Fundamentals of Social Media Photography
On average, people spend upwards of 53 minutes of every day scrolling through Instagram. If your job involves social media, chances are this number is a lot higher. As you may have noticed, the main content type on IG is definitely photography, so as a result, this art and documentary form is no joke these days. As a result, we thought it was time to lay down the basics on what it means to take a killer picture and provide you with some tips on how you can improve your photo-taking game.
LIGHTING IS EVERYTHING.
A photo taken with a natural light source is usually the safest bet that an image will turn out amazing. In saying that, taking pictures in direct sunlight is a big no. This can affect the contrast levels of an image, create lens flare, and other unwanted problems that can be easily avoided by utilising filtered light instead.
In situations where natural light isn’t possible, you may need to know some of the below hints to still get your desired look and feel…
TAKE ALL THE PICTURES!
Especially when you’re just starting out, it’s okay to over-shoot. Practice really does make perfect, so if your whole camera is filled with images of the venue, food, people, environment, details etc, that’s perfectly okay! Shooting at every angle possible may seem pointless at first, but after going through your images, you may find that testing out all of these angles is actually a good thing – so that you can find the perfect angle! If you’re dealing with difficult lighting in a venue too, trying out a bunch of angles and even moving your dish to different locations can result in finding the most picture-perfect diffused light.
And remember: Deleting pictures later is easier than trying to create images you never took.
THINK ABOUT YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE.
When you’re taking hospitality, lifestyle and venue photos, you want to be thinking about who your primary audience is. By thinking about this, you can tailor the photographs to the audience in ways you think would be most useful. For example, are you shooting for Good Food? They have more of an editorial style of photography and often used portable lighting. Perhaps you have your first gig shooting for Broadsheet? Well I can assure you that they generally use prime lenses like an 85mm 1.4 or a 35mm 1.4 and if you’re shooting to include the images in an invite for influencers, they LOVE seeing anything to do with movement in food; oozing, melting, cheese stretching, pouring etc.
PORTRAIT MODE ON SMARTPHONES.
No matter what phone you’re shooting on, by using the portrait feature, you will level up your photography game. By using either your native phone camera or an app that you’ve downloaded, you can achieve that dreamy photography look that everyone is crazy about with a shallow depth of field. It makes everything look delicious!
There are so many settings on a DSLR that sometimes it’s just too hard to even try. It’s important to take note of your aperture, shutter speed and ISO as well as your grid. Setting your aperture anywhere between f1.8 – 2.5 can give a lovely bokeh effect and shallow field of depth (much like portrait mode on the iPhone, just more fancy). For your shutter speed settings, you’ll want to set it no slower than 1/60, otherwise you’ll start showing camera shake in your images. Enabling the grid can help you to get the perfect composition and help to make sure that your image is straight. This can help minimise your editing time later on too!
These settings are a guide and will be different for every camera. Don’t be afraid to try new things!
Knowing the styles of photography that are prominent in your industry can help you define what your own personal style is. Do you prefer the instagrammer’s style? Do you like editorial photography? How about macro and super-close-ups?
Keeping an eye on what the industry is doing in the way of your niche of photography can help you become a market leader. How do you get more emotion out of your photography? How do you make people react to your photography? What gear might you have to save up for to really compete in the professional market?
Don’t be afraid to be critical too; what would you do differently to your favourite photographers? Perhaps don’t go telling them to their face, but store that thought away and start experimenting!
INVEST IN GEAR.
This may be your phone, or it may be a DSLR camera, but either way, basic photography gear is worth its weight in gold.
Lightboxes or umbrella lights – natural light isn’t always accessible and sometimes you only have tungsten or fluorescent lighting to work with (red, yellow or blue looking!) and when this is the case, you may need some extra lighting help. Have a play around with how to diffuse and bounce flashes – there’s a LOT of different equipment you can play around with to get the perfect even-lighting effect.
Tripod – perfect for everyone who has an unsteady hand or those who are wanting to get into stylised, professional food photography. DOn’t forget that it may be beneficial to stabilise your phone sometimes too!
Reflectors – reflectors don’t even realise how helpful they are. Generally speaking you’ll buy a reflector with a case with one gold side, one silver side and underneath, a white, partially see-through surface. All of these surfaces allow you to determine the effect you want in your specific shots and most importantly, manipulating harsh, unwanted shadows.