Become an Instagram Superstar, Part 1: Taking Photos Worth Posting

Instagram is one of the most direct ways to connect with customers and expand your customer base. Instagram boasts 15x the engagement of Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. So in all likelihood, the time you’re spending on Twitter and Facebook would be better spent here.

Add the fact that visual-based content considerably outperforms text — it might be time to get serious about Instagram. This blog series will explore the ways to get more out of it. Let’s start by talking about how to shoot high quality photos that are worth posting

Focus

Focus is impossible to fake. If you shoot a picture that is out of focus, no amount of editing will fix it. Make sure your shutter speed is fast enough to avoid showing movement. If you’re shooting with your phone, then shutter speed is automatically set based on lighting. If you’re having trouble with blurred pictures, check on a couple of things: Is your lens clear? Are you telling the camera where to focus? Are you holding the camera still? If it’s still blurry, then you need brighter lighting.

focus flower.jpg

You can use selective focus, or a shallow depth of field, to force the audience to focus on one aspect of the shot. A selective focus is an intimate and artistic way to zero in on small details.

If you want everything in focus (group shots or landscape pictures), use a smaller opening in your lens. You won’t have this kind of control with a phone camera, but some editing apps do let you edit the appearance of focus. This tool won’t actually change your depth of field only add a blur overlay in a surrounding shape.

Lighting

Lighting is crucial. It can alter the mood and professional appeal of the image you shoot. Poor lighting often results in out-of-focus or grainy images. Great lighting makes your image look less amateur and more appealing.

Here are a few ideas to try if you’re unfamiliar with lighting techniques:

Golden Hour: The hour after sunrise and before sunset offer a window to gorgeous shots. During Golden Hour, you can almost do no wrong. Backlit and front lit images can both turn out amazing, so try shooting from different angles.

Outdoor Light: If you’re struggling to get something bright enoughtake it outside! Overcast, gray days are ideal for when you don’t want strong shadows or bright points.

Window Light: Sometimes, large windows provide a great lighting assist. This can help direct light from a specific source. Staying inside also helps reduce the strong shadows or burned out highlights that strong sunlight can cause.

Don’t Use Flash: The worst thing you can do is use flash. Flash automatically causes very strange shadows and highlights, while simultaneously flattening out your subject. Professionals use flash in specific settings, but they have expensive equipment and are well trained in making it appear natural.

Light images get an average of 24% more likes than dark images. (QuickSprout)

Angles

Stay moving. A straightforward view gets boring. Your audience doesn’t want to see the same thing over and over. Show details, show context, show unexpected anglesmake your products desirable by giving them personality through your images.

Background

Avoid distracting backgrounds, like this:

Brandr rocks.jpg

 

Do you see the problem? Your eye doesn’t know where to go. This photographer would do better to move the rock to a space not crowded out by so many other shapes. Additionally, the shooter could have changed the depth of field to a shallow one so that the rocks were blurred, creating a much softer and more uniform background.

Images with a larger background space are 29% more likely to get likes than images with little background space. (QuickSprout)

Editing

brandr dog.jpg

Always edit your images, and with professional software if possible. You’ll need it for balanced color, great composition, good brightness levels, and adjusted contrast. You’ll also need to edit out imperfections that distract from the image.

Make a habit out of expanding your photography knowledge base and you’ll continually improve. Then, you can start implementing a photography style that visually represents your brand. You may want to use the same macro lens for all photos…or always shoot from the same angle…or maybe use the same filter. Regardless of the style, you want to make sure your followers immediately recognize a photo as coming from your brand.

Branding your photos is the most powerful way to reinforce brand recognition and visual consistency. You can accomplish it by simply overlaying your company logo. Brandr makes this process effortless. Learn more about how it can help your business.