Step up your social media game with fantastic photos
Ready to go beyond the basic selfie? Try these photography tips to help push you — and your social media accounts — to new creative heights.
Let’s face it: Getting “enough” likes and shares on social media can feel intimidating — especially if you’re building your personal brand or marketing your business. That’s why it’s crucial to cultivate a sense of self-worth offline. As McLean Hospital reports, social media can be associated with conditions like anxiety and depression. But for bloggers and social media enthusiasts who rely on their platforms to earn a living, share their work, or just express themselves, it’s essential, not to mention meaningful and rewarding, to have that engaged audience.
With the right approach, you can protect your sense of well-being and boost your social media engagement at the same time.
One way to do this is by taking your own photos for social media or your blog. Yes — even if you have zero experience. Photography offers an amazing creative outlet that can help you better express what you want to say, all while increasing your likes, comments, and shares.
According to the Content Marketing Institute, using images online will get you up to 2.3 times more attention on Facebook and 1.5 times more on Twitter. And, as Hubspot reports, posts with visuals can help readers retain 55% more information than text-only ones.
Whether you have a fancy DLSR camera or simply a smartphone, you can absolutely learn how to take engaging photos for your blog or social media — and have fun doing it.
1. Create an action plan.
Before you jump in to changing your social sharing habits, take a moment to assess where you are, where you’d like to go, and how you’re going to get there.
If your primary goal is audience engagement, take a look at where you are now and set a realistic target for where you’d like to be in a year. But don’t let the numbers be your only focus — you can also set creative goals to help get you out of your comfort zone, or practical goals like posting on a regular basis.
Decide what your first step is going to be. For some, updating their blog with a new template or setting up new social accounts needs to come first. For others, it might be deciding on a photo theme or style. Don’t let the possibilities overwhelm you — if you’re not sure where to start, try playing around with creative photography apps to get inspired and make beautiful images right from your smartphone.
Shift as needed.
Some of the things you try might not turn out how you want them to, and that’s okay. Be willing to change and adapt as you get more experience and keep experimenting until you find out what works.
2. Learn some photography basics.
Photography can get complicated, fast — even if it's only for blogs and social media. Luckily, there are tons of online photography resources for people of all experience levels. Here are a few of the essential things you should know about as you get started:
Most of the time, you’ll want to take photos that aren’t too bright or too dark. A good plan is to photograph outside around sunset or sunrise or on a cloudy day. By avoiding bright, direct light, you’ll get softer, more flattering images.
While there’s an art to composition, anyone can do it. Start by learning about photo composition techniques like symmetry and the rule of thirds so you have ideas at the ready when you go out to shoot. There’s no such thing as “perfect” when it comes to composition, but knowing how to do it well can make a big difference in your shots.
If you’re shooting with a film or DSLR camera, the lens you choose can make or break your photo. Know which lenses to use for landscape, portrait, street, and other styles of photography, and you’ll thank yourself later.
Also, it’s a good idea to invest in a tripod, even if you’re shooting on a smartphone, so you can take self-portraits and other types of photos where a stable camera is important.
Although you can’t turn a bad photo into a good one, you can get pretty close with the right editing tools. These days, you don’t need to know a lot of technical information to edit your way into a fabulous photo — try playing with free, easy-to-use photo editing apps to see just how far you can take your images.
When you’re ready to take your editing skills to the next level, you can do even more with professional editing apps, including when you’re on the go.
3. Push your creative boundaries.
Once you have the photography basics down, experiment with different looks, equipment, and techniques until you find your unique sense of style. Professional photographers and hobbyists alike can benefit from doing things a little differently — especially in the crowded digital space of blogs and social media.
Here are a few things you can try to get out of your comfort zone and produce more engaging photographs:
Define your style.
Don’t worry — you don’t need to choose just one photographic style to make the most of your social media imagery. But it can be helpful to have a general idea of which visual looks you use and which you don’t. For example, a blogger might decide to focus on surreal photography, which could work well alongside abstract photography. But it might make less sense to include photojournalistic images since the blogger’s main style is all about turning the real world upside down.
If you’re not ready to commit to a formal style just yet, a good way to challenge yourself is to pick a visual theme that you stick to for a set period of time. For example, you could photograph the same types of subjects as the seasons change. Or focus on a particular color palette, like pastels, jewel tones, or even black-and-white photography while you’re shooting. To find just the right color palette for your social feed, check out some of the great online resources that can help.
Learn new skills.
Keep yourself and your audience engaged by trying new techniques. Say you’ve gotten used to shooting outside during the daytime. Maybe give night photography a try. Or perhaps you’ve gained a lot of experience using digital cameras. Consider trying film. You can even experiment with different physical and digital mediums to create something truly original. So get out your digital paintbrushes, acrylic paints, or drawing charcoal and go wild — and keep learning new skills as you go.
Measure your success.
Once enough time has gone by, look at how far you’ve come and pause to celebrate your accomplishments. The chances are that all the time and energy you put into creating amazing photos did pay off. Be sure to revisit the goals you set at the beginning of your journey. If you haven’t accomplished all of them yet, see what you can do differently in the future.
Be kind to yourself.
Maintaining an online presence takes a lot of work, and so does building up your photography skills. Remember that, as important as blogs and social media may seem, they’re only one aspect of life. So, take breaks when you need to, enlist help from family and friends, and don’t stop having fun with it.
No matter how many likes and shares you get on your new photos, nothing is as valuable as what you learn about yourself in the process.
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