As an influencer, visuals are everything. Your whole job centres around photo and video; obviously, there are many other moving parts behind the scenes, but primarily, you’re a purveyor of visual content.
While many social media platforms emphasise video content, taking a good photograph is still essential for influencers of all types.
Whether you’re taking selfies, stunning travel pics, or branded product shots, you want to make sure that your pictures are clear, eye-catching, and unique. And now that Instagram trends are skewing more toward unfiltered, natural photos without too much retouching, taking quality images is more important than ever.
In 2014 it was ok to upload a grainy photo of pasta that looked like it was taken on a Gameboy Camera, but now that we’ve all got high-powered smartphone cameras in our pockets, there are no excuses!
How to nail your photography as a social influencer
1. Shoot in raw if you’re planning to do heavy editing
When editing photos in Photoshop or Lightroom, the more high-quality a file is, the better your edits will turn out. If you’re shooting with a digital camera, switch the capture settings to take pictures in raw format, making for a much more natural image. Most cameras slightly adjust the brightness, exposure and contrast settings of JPEG captures.
2. Pay attention to your lighting
Good lighting can make or break a photo. Unfortunately, it is difficult to edit out bad lighting, and the light colour and intensity in a photo can create a mood that brings your image to life.
Just before sunset and just after sunrise are the Instagram peak times (golden hour and blue hour), but think of the vibe you want to convey with your shot. For example, if you’re doing a product shot for a clean beauty line, you might want bright, crisp lighting instead of a warm sunset glow.
3. Avoid shooting on overcast days
Unless it’s a specific look you’re seeking, it’d be wise to avoid shooting when the sky is overcast. The light is too harsh, and you’ll find that your white balance is often blown way out. However, if you have no other choice, be sure to shoot in as high quality as possible so that you can edit out any lighting flaws.
4. The rule of thirds exists for a reason
The rule of thirds is photography 101. Whether you’re shooting with a DSLR, film, or smartphone, you should always frame your shots within a 3x3 grid.
Align points of interest in the picture with the gridlines; it makes for a much more visually arresting shot. Most cameras and phones have the grid feature built into the camera to make things easy!
5. Don’t just rely on selfies
A selfie is definitely an easy photo to take, especially if you create content on your own. But no matter how good-looking you are, your followers want to see more than just close-ups of your face! So if you’ve got an Instagram partner or bestie to take photos of you, that's a great option. Just be very clear with the type of pics you want them to take, or you’ll be there forever.
6. Otherwise, a tripod and Bluetooth clicker is your friend
Need a photo of yourself but don’t have someone at your disposal to take pics for you?
A cheap tripod can go a long way, especially when paired with a Bluetooth camera shutter. You can set up your shot however you like, then away you go!
7. Keep your editing simple
As a society, we’ve passed the era where every Instagram shot is filtered past the point of being natural. Of course, slight tweaks will always be necessary — especially when you’re making a living on Instagram — but keep it simple. Focus on brightness, contrast, exposure, and warmth.
8. And keep it consistent
Gone are the days where it’s essential to have a perfect and cohesive “grid”. But it’s still a good idea to keep some similarities between your uploads. Whether that means using the same filter across your photos, or shooting with the same colour scheme, consider the feel you want your page to have and what you want new followers (and brands) to see.
9. Props, props, props!
Props are your best friend. How many times have you gone to take an outfit shot and have had no idea what to do with your hands?
Even something simple like holding a coffee or a bag can add intrigue to an image and make you feel more comfortable in front of the camera. Similarly, you rarely see branded product shots on Instagram sitting alone on a white table. The right props can help a product come to life on your screen.
10. But be sure to match your props to the product
First of all, you want to select props that match a product’s packaging in terms of colour scheme. But also think about the energy of the product.
If you’re shooting a pre-made cocktail can, it’ll look great on a table with party snacks or a picnic blanket. Meanwhile, a high-end floral perfume could be shot with flowers that match its scent, or luxurious looking clothing or accessories.
11. Experiment with different background and lighting
You don’t need a huge budget to stage photos in your own home. Need a clean, clear backdrop for straightforward product shots? A piece of cardboard, or even wrapping paper, can work perfectly in a pinch.
Take test photos in different parts of your house to see what lighting works best at different times of the day. Or scout out your neighbourhood to find cool alleyways, walls or buildings you can shoot against.
12. Play with movement in product shots
There are many ways to jazz up a standard product shot. For example, you can use a water spray bottle to make a product look glossy or fresh. Involve movement into your photo by actually using the product — find different ways to press, extract or pour the product out. This looks great in video and static images.
13. Have fun!
We’re not trying to be cheesy, but honestly, enjoying the content you’re making is a huge part of producing something stellar. A photo captures your energy, and it’s so obvious when someone in a picture is not having a good time.
Creating quality content is a part of the job but try not to get too stressed about it. You need to share content that you love and are happy with; that’s the main thing.
Hopefully, these tips help you feel a bit more confident in the content that you’re creating. A picture truly does tell a thousand words — if not more. So it’s important to get it right!
Ready to put your newfound skills to the test and start working with brands on Instagram? At TRIBE, you choose the brands you work with. Those brands that you already use and love—and that align with your own brand—are the ones that your followers love to see you promote. So take your pick!