Best Tips on Taking Great Social Media Pictures
Everything you see online is a picture. As much as writers may protest, it is believed that one picture is worth a thousand words. So we better make sure the pictures we take are great pictures. Otherwise, those thousand words won't be appreciated.
So what is your purpose online? Are you there to inspire and motivate? Perhaps you’re there to entertain? Or maybe you’re just there to grab some attention. We hope it’s not that last one, but no matter your purpose, these tips will help you to take the best possible pictures. Best of all, you can do all this with the camera in your pocket.
A Side Note That is Central
Can we talk for a moment about the heart of this matter? The fact is that there are some intense pressures coupled with social media. These pressures are intensified as a Christian. On the one hand, we want others to see us at our best. But if you spent more than 15 minutes at a church youth group, you heard your youth pastor encouraging you with 1 Samuel 16:7.
The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
It’s absolutely true, but we can’t take a selfie of our heart.*
So, even as we give you some pointers for perfect portraiture, remember we serve God who made you with purpose. This truth will help us to remember our identity, even on social media.
Having said all that, we still wanted to offer some tips on taking great social media pictures. So we sat down with our very own Photographer at Grace College, Andrew Palladino. Here are some of his best practices.
Put Your Best Picture Forward
It seems like every other picture is taken in front of a wall. Yeah, don’t do that! Avoid walls as your background! If there is a wall behind you, make sure it’s far behind you. Far enough that it’s not in focus. The reason for this is that an unfocused background brings the better focus to the subject of the picture.
You’ve likely heard of holding your phone a certain way, standing with your waist turned just so, and having your lips pursed. It’s called duck face and nobody actually looks like that. (Our apologies to anyone with a rare duck face condition.) Our point is that social media was created in order for us to be able to connect with others. As ourselves. Stop trying to portray who you think everyone else wants to see online. Just be your authentic self.
Include your personal style. You be you. Authentic is the goal. If you make silly faces and roll your eyes, then go for it. Taking pictures at a certain angle might be your thing. It might not be for everyone, but who says it has to be?
A Thought About Filters
#NoFilter? No way! We saw the trend and understand that people want to know what’s real. In a world where PhotoShop exists, we get it. But some filters can add an interesting and creative element to your photos.
Make sure the filters are there for fun and not to disguise your real self. After all, you’re not creating an ad for a make-up company. You are adding to the story of the unique and creative person that is you.
Principles of Photography
Your phone camera has the ability to zoom. But that same camera’s ability to take great pictures also decreases with every zoom. Don’t zoom! Take a few steps closer. Crop it afterward if needed. You will get the same effect and the picture will be of greater quality.
Have you wondered why your camera has that nine-square grid? It’s because of the rule of thirds. The basic idea is that you should place the object of your picture at one of the intersections of the lines. People’s eyes are drawn more naturally to these spots because, well, science. For more description on how this works, check out this article.
Now is probably a good time to mention that your parents were right. Their suggestion that you go outside and play is a great idea for taking pictures as well. Use of natural light makes for better pictures. But be mindful of shadows. If you can find a shaded area that removes direct light, you’ll avoid big problems.
Things Are Getting Serious
Are you ready to take the next step in the quality of your pictures but don’t want to invest thousands in a quality camera? There are camera lens you can purchase to fit over your phone. Adding the ability to zoom (with quality intact), take wide-angle shots, or use of a fish-eye effect, these lenses will add dimensions to your photos. A couple of options can be found here and here.
After taking the photos, how are you going to edit them? As with everything else in life, there’s an app for that. Here are a few Andrew recommends. Most of these have little or no cost.
There are many photo editing apps available, but here are three. Afterlight 2, Snapseed, and A Color Story. They all offer all the basic tools for editing. They each offer unique filters, artwork, and text. Our suggestion is to pick one that feels comfortable and dig into the many options.
Layout allow you to put some of your pictures together and group them in creative ways. You can group up to nine photos at a time. Flip them, reverse them, and add borders. It makes for a unique look at several pictures.
Enhance allows you to size photos particular to your need, whether it’s a cover photo on Facebook or a Square image on Instagram. Crop to the size you need. This app is rich in ability. Add filters, make adjustments, and include text. This app even includes the ability to add watermarks or stickers.
In a social media world that is full of photographs, these are a few tips and tricks for finding your own style. But if a love of photography really develops, your career could begin with a Photography major at Grace College.