27th November 2017 / Design, Marketing Posted by Paul Ovenden

How to take great photos for social media and why it’s worth the effort

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In the 1920s, ad man Fred R. Barnard took out an advert in Printer's Ink with the headline “A picture is worth ten thousand words,” attributing this to an ancient Asian philosopher. Well, that’s how the story goes anyway (there are plenty of different variations). Wherever the phrase actually came from, the idea that an image could have more impact than words is one that has stuck. Today, in the fast moving world of social media it’s more relevant than ever.

Why invest in social images for your brand?

Humans are very visual beings. We can recognise a familiar object in roughly 100 milliseconds – which makes an image the perfect communication tool. However, we don’t tend to spend long looking at anything. In fact, the human attention span online has now dwindled to around nine seconds so you don’t have much time to make an impact. Our brains respond a lot faster to images, which is why in the context of social media, posts that have images attached to them are 10 times more likely to get engagement than those that don’t. But there is a caveat to this – they need to be the right images.

Which images are the right images?

You could just rely on stock photos or whatever you can find online for your social photos. However, this only gives you access to a limited pool of visuals, could throw up potential copyright issues and isn’t going to contribute to a distinctive aesthetic for your brand. Shooting your own photos for social media creates many advantages, including:

  • You own all the images and you can do what you like with them
  • Taking your own photos means you can create exactly the content that you want
  • If you’re taking your own images then your visuals will be consistent
  • When it comes to brand promotion that ties in with your marketing objectives there’s no substitute for working with your own images
  • You can create images that are highly shareable and fit for purpose
  • Great images drive traffic to your website and can be the beginning of a customer journey 

How to take great photos for social media 

There are many different set ups that you could explore here, from your own smart phone to working with a team like Aquatint – we specialise in photography that can help determine the positioning and perception of the business

1. Create the brief. Whether you’re taking the photos yourself or commissioning a third party you need to set an initial brief for what the images are designed to achieve. This should include purpose, style, which channels you plan to use the photos across and what kind of finished aesthetic you’re looking for. 

2. Learn the basics of good photography. The team at Aquatint has a wealth of experience when it comes to commercial photography – these are our top tips if you’re planning to take the photos yourself:

  • Don’t use the flash – this tends to result in a harsh finish and will suck all the vibrancy from your photo.
  • Make the best of natural sunlight – this enlivens skin tones and detail.
  • Think about the composition – although the best photos never look staged they do tend to have a balanced feel and a clear subject.
  • Don’t use social filters – or, at least, don’t rely on them. If you want to change features such as brightness, contrast, warmth and saturation it might be worth investing in some basic photo editing software, such as Photoshop CC (£10 a month) where you can tackle each one individually.
  • Don’t be afraid of ‘negative space’ i.e. a photo subject with a lot of space around them – this can look impactful and cool.
  • Look for different perspectives – some of the most interesting images are every day scenes shot from entirely different perspectives. 

3. Be consistent. Creating and using consistent imagery across multiple social platforms will enable you to begin to build real brand identity. You may not be able to shoot every single image that you use but the more you can create yourself, the more you’re contributing to a strong brand aesthetic. 

Images are crucial to social media success and creating bespoke photos gives you a huge resource. If you’d like more tips on how to create your own images – or you’d like to work with our photography team, on social images or visuals for your website – please get in touch.