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Take Better Photos for Social Media

By Rick Kitchell & Christine Boyd

You don’t need a fancy camera or formal training to take great photos. You probably already have a tool in your hand ready to do the job -  your smartphone. Use it, along with these suggestions, to take your social posts to the next level.  

Face the Light

Don’t take a photo of a person in front of a sunlit window or with bright lights behind him or her unless the subject is adequately lit from the front. If you want a sunlit photo, go outside to let the sun light the subject properly, so you don’t end up with a photo of an unrecognizable silhouette. 

Pro Phone Tip: Do not use the flash on your camera. Flashes tend to wash people out. If it’s too dark, try tapping the darkest spot on your screen and your phone will focus and adjust the light accordingly. Most new smartphones have great low-light settings. 

Try a Different Angle

When taking photos of a person, lower your phone to about your belt level instead of shooting from eye level. This elongates the person and makes him or her appear more distinguished. It also provides a more pleasing representation of the surroundings and a better horizon placement.

Pro Phone Tip: You aren’t using film anymore – so take a lot of shots from as many different angles as you can think of. That way you can go back and have lots of options to choose from. You can always delete extra photos, but you can’t retake the photo once the moment has passed!

Think Photo Composition

Crop the photo so the subject appears to the left or right, not in the center. This is much more aesthetically pleasing than centering the subject in the photo. Also try tapping the darkest spot on your screen, and your phone will focus and adjust the light accordingly. Most new smartphones have great low-light settings.

Pro Phone Tip: You can turn on the “grid” function on your camera to help you keep your subjects from being dead center in the photo. Don’t be afraid to try a few different angles and get lots of options.

Think Different

If you have an important message to share or a strong point you want to make, consider hand writing it. Keep it short and simple, and shoot a photo of it. It's a thing and it gets attention.

Pro Phone Tip: Don’t go overboard using filters – filters can be great in some cases but some skew reality a bit too much and take away the photo’s impact.

Be a Part of the Photo

Try not to shoot photos with everyone's backs turned toward the camera. If you are shooting a scene or event, try to get the front side of as many people as you can. Otherwise, it appears that you weren't included or welcome at the event. This photo may have people in it, but it's basically a photo of nothing other than proof they were there.

Pro Phone Tip: If you are taking photos of live events, try using the action photo feature on your smartphone. You usually can press and hold the camera button and it’ll take bursts of photos so you can catch that perfect moment. 

Group Photos

When shooting a group of people, don't shoot too wide. Crop the edges in tight around the group. In this photo, we'd also recommend moving the entire group out into the overhead light, so the back row isn't a bunch of silhouettes.

Pro Phone Tip: Next time you use Instagram, try sharpening the photo by 15 percent - this will help combat loss of quality when you post online.

We can’t all be professional photographers, but with a few pointers and a little extra thought, everyone can make better visual content.

Examples of ideas for great social photos:

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