Photos are essentially light entering a lens, so you need to find your light. That means if there is a window in the room, you want your subject to be facing the window, so the light is falling on their face. If you have them stand in front of the window, they will be backlit. This will cause them to appear very shadowed. Natural lighting is the best, but artificial may be your only option in some circumstances.
If you are in a situation where the light is very low, make sure to keep your camera steady. With less light, your camera needs more time to collect visual information, so if you move your hand it will create a blur in your photo. A pro tip is to get a friend to use the flashlight on their phone to help light the subject, making sure not to overhead light the face and create unwanted dark shadows under the eyes.
When you are composing your shot there are some basic rules to adhere to: symmetry, the rule of thirds and using angles to create interest. Having a perfectly centred subject is excellent for social because when you crop it for different placements, you will have the most flexibility. The rule of thirds is handy to leave negative space to add graphics and ad copy. Using angles is a good trick to make a boring photo a bit more dynamic.
There are a few essential tools you need to master to correct a poor photo. Brightness will up the entire value of the photo's light and dark areas, which is excellent for general editing. The better options for correcting lighting are to use your highlight and shadow adjustments. These tools will allow you to independently add more depth to dark areas of the photo or turn down overexposed regions.
Most traffic on social media is happening on mobile, so no matter how great your image looks on your desktop, you always have to consider how it reads on a phone. Smaller images usually require more depth. You can add this by increasing the contrast on your image, so it pops more. Be careful with the contrast tool because this will also exaggerate lines under eyes and chins.
Having eye-catching colours in your image is very important. Using the saturation tool, you can add more vibrant colours. You can use your tint control to make your image cooler or warmer, bluer or more yellow. A good rule of thumb for colour correction is to watch your skin tones, if they are starting to look weird or unnatural then you have likely gone too far.
Filters are a super-easy way to add a style to your images and create a uniform look. Most filters on Instagram are a bit much when used at full force. If you hold down the filter button, it will present a slider. From here, you can choose a much milder strength to your filter. This will give you what we call an undertone. Even adding 10-15% of a filter can help to create cohesion in your Instagram feed.
If you want to mix up something brand specific and create something truly unique, then you want to make a preset. These are used in more advanced editors like Adobe Lightroom. They offer you full control and customization of your image. You can create these on your own or purchase them online and then tweak them later to match your style perfectly.
The biggest place we still see mobile photography being relevant is Instagram Stories or any expiring social platform. This is a great place to test new looks, ideas and creative directions. Viewers have fewer expectations of the production value and prefer a more natural experience of your brand. Keep in mind this isn't a place to ignore brand guidelines, it's just a platform to be less precious with them.
Why has it returned?
Can we talk about the last couple of weeks? What an incredible moment in history where we are being called to protect our neighbours by staying home. Self-isolation has forced many of us to explore alternative methods of communication. Two weeks ago live video was considered pretty uncool and way too big of an ask for people's short attention spans. Well... that changed.
Social Media is a tool and it's only as good as the way we use it.
Right now video chat has become a critical way for many of us to maintain our workflow. Through live video we can stay connected to our customers in a very real and honest way. If you do go live keep the conversation relevant to how you can serve your customers. Not sure what they need? Ask them. What you don't want to do is position yourself as an expert on the current state of the world. People are overloaded with information from reputable news sources and government agencies. Use your live video to remind people of your company values, what you are doing for your customers in the meantime and maintaining a hopeful future for when the world gets back on track.
How to prepare.
You can save your live video so people can watch the rebroadcast: on Facebook you can keep it on your feed indefinitely and on Instagram you will be able to keep it for 24 hours. Live video is not for everyone, but it's truly accessible. It allows us as businesses to connect with our clients on a very human level during a time when 6ft is as close as we can get. Stay strong and be well.
Pictured above is the Broadway Theatre with their message "Wash Your Hands and Love Each Other" during the first week of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Be a good citizen.
Part of owning a business means being part of the community. No business survives without the tremendous support of the people here in the city. The success of our businesses is so deeply connected to the welfare of our community that it’s impossible to separate them. Being a good citizen means voting, understanding the specific needs of customers and playing an active role in advocating for positive change.
Pictured above is our beloved river valley and the Delta Bessborough Hotel.
Context is key.
Inspire people with your local love and show off the city. Stock photography is tricky since it will never give context to your images and videos. When you are creating content, you should always be looking for opportunities to let your audience recognize the setting. The more familiar content can feel, the better it will perform. Get creative, it’s doesn’t always need to be a shot of the majestic Bessborough. Show off neighbourhoods, local shops and familiar faces.
Pictured above is the new building for OUT Saskatoon.
Business and community.
Under ideal circumstances our city's non-profits run on tight budgets and with minimal people power. During a crisis their resources become even more precious. As local businesses we need to find ways to support the community organizations working tirelessly to make our city a better place. Collaborations, donations and volunteering are simple and scalable ways to make a difference.
Pictured above is a mural by @pineapplesforprimeminister on the back of Foster's Shoes off Broadway.
Work with local creatives.
We all need art for our websites, publications, promotional items, physical spaces, etc. Finding people in the community who can create relevant work for your business is huge. Not only does it support our local economy, but it also allows a creative in YXE to deliver art that is sensitive to the community we live in. A local artist understands the nuances of our culture and can reflect that in their work.
Pictured above is the quirky neighbourhood of 33rd Street in front of Glitch Gifts and Better Off Duds.
Know who you are.
People say that Saskatchewan is a fly-over province. That people often overlook us nationally or internationally. Embrace your weirdness. It’s so important that we are transparent with our audience. Don’t try to make your business look like something it’s not. The things you think no one will be interested in are the exact stories that will endear your most loyal customers to your business for a lifetime.
Created by T Squared Social. We are a Saskatoon based social media agency with a focus on education, content creation and management. We love making great content and helping people with their social media.