The Helpful guide to photography for non-photographers

Visual storytelling is incredibly important on social media, as people process images much faster than words. Therefore it’s crucial that you take the best photos you can and make the most out of what you have.

It can be daunting to take photos that will be good enough for social media but you don’t need a photography degree or a fancy camera to take interesting, good quality photos. Your phone camera and a few simple tips to guide you will be enough to get you started:

Invest in a Tripod

A cheap tripod will allow you to take sharp photos in low light. A tripod will also mean your photos are level. Even in lighter conditions, a tripod can give you access to new angles such as over edges, low on the ground or higher up in the air. Think of the tripod as an extension arm, just set the timer on your camera and then move the tripod into position. There’s a little bit of trial and error involved but it can create some interesting results. 

If you don’t have a tripod, look for something solid to support the camera. That might be a tree, a wall or someone’s shoulder!

Make the most of natural light

If you’re taking photos of people, take them outside where you can take advantage of the natural light. If the photos have to be taken inside, use the natural light coming in through the windows. In that instance, remember to have them facing the light as much as possible. If the light is behind them, their face will be in shadow. 

four photos with different lighting levels

Wherever possible, avoid using the flash as it can make things look stark with harsh shadows. If there’s no natural light and you can’t go outside, what artificial lighting can you introduce? Are there lamps you can move around or even someone holding a torch at the right angle can do the trick.

Pick your background carefully

Have you carefully considered what will be in the background of whatever you are photographing? 

You will want to avoid backdrops which include things like bins, radiators, extinguishers, health and safety signage – anything which looks a little ugly or distracting. If you’re snapping photos in your office you may also want to keep an eye out for confidential information left up on whiteboards or on desks. 

A simple background will always be better as it will help draw people’s eyes to what you want them to look at. For example, A brick wall, bushes or a bookshelf. 

Plan the composition

Have you heard of the rule of thirds? By aligning the focus of the image to where the lines meet it will help to create a more interesting image. Watch this video which explains the rule of thirds alongside some other composition tips:

If you’re taking photos on a smartphone, you will be able to add a grid onto the screen in the settings which will help you to align things up better. 

It’s important to always plan and consider what will be in the photo carefully. Think about what you want your audience to feel by looking at the photo. What are you trying to communicate? 

Experiment with different angles

Taking photos straight on is easy but isn’t always the most interesting or engaging. When you’re trying to catch people’s eye on social media, try experimenting with different angles. There are plenty of different tools at your disposal to make your photos stand out from the crowd. Try standing on a chair to get a high angle shot looking down or lie down on the floor and shoot upwards. 

Shoot through items like doors and windows or use water/mirrors and photograph the reflection. There are lots of different and unusual ways to convey the same information.

Try it for yourself!