A recent article by BuzzSumo, and shared by OKDork, discusses why certain posts get shared more than others. Not surprisingly, posts with at least one photograph get more shares than those without any images.
So, we need images. Not all images are created equal, but you knew that, right? That’s why you’re reading this article. What you really need are great images that convey your story, or illustrate just how delicious your recipe is.
How do we get there, though?
Here are ten quick tips to take your photos from satisfactory to exceptional:
1. Turn Off Your Flash
Unless you’re great with an off-camera flash or have a studio-like setup at home, TURN OFF YOUR FLASH. On-camera flash (particularly on a point-and-shoot camera) tends to make everything look flat. It takes away all of the depth from what you’re shooting. To turn it off, find the little lightning bolt symbol on your camera and press it until it has a line through it. (This may be in a menu setting, so read your manual.) You don’t want it set to “auto” for this purpose—you want to force the flash off.
2. Find the Natural Light
Now that we’ve taken away the flash, you’re going to need to explore your house and watch how the light falls in different places. Remember that the intensity and the colour of the light will change as the day goes by, so don't be afraid to experiment. Consider taking the same object around with you for a day or two and shoot it in the morning, at mid-day, and in the afternoon. Notice the changes in your shots. Chances are you’ll get the best shot if your object is close to a window, but out of direct light. (You can always use a clear shower curtain to diffuse harsh window light, or use a white piece of Bristol board to reflect some light back onto the side of the object that’s facing away from the window.)
3. Check Your White Balance
I wrote this article to help people understand why the colour may be off on their photos. Play with your white balance and see what happens in the light that you're in. White balance settings can make a big difference:
4. Use the Lowest ISO Possible
Read this to find out about ISO. A higher setting will let more light into your camera’s sensor, but with great ISO comes great noise (or grain) in your photo. Use the lowest ISO setting that you can, while still maintaining the right exposure.
5. Watch Your Shutter Speed
Don’t try to handhold a shutter speed that’s slower than 1/60th of a second, or 1/the length of your lens. If you do, your pictures will be blurry. See this article for all the details about shutter speed. If your shutter speed is too slow, then…
6. Use a Tripod
Use a tripod or something stable (and safe!) to hold your camera. Camera shake results in blurry photos, so try to avoid it at all costs. You don’t need an expensive tripod, especially if you’re just shooting something on the floor or on a table. Using a tripod will let you get away with a slower shutter speed and a lower ISO. I like the GorillaPods:
7. Take Horizontal and Vertical Photos
The web is made for horizontally-oriented (landscape) photos, but for one exception—Pinterest. Facebook and our computer screens are built for horizontal pictures. Pinterest, however, seems to like verticallly-oriented (portrait) photos. So, depending on your traffic sources, you may want to have a variety of image in your post. I'd recommend a horizontal punchy main/title image and add a vertical image in the body if you want to make it Pinterest-friendly.
8. Get Close
People feel a greater connection to a photograph (unless it’s a travel landscape) when you get in close, or when you isolate a subject against a plain background. Before you shoot, stop and look through your camera to see what distracting objects are around your subject. If they don’t add to the emotion or context of the photo, remove them or get closer to your subject if you can. (Every camera and lens has a minimum focus distance at which it can still maintain focus.)
9. Change Your Perspective
Take your photos from different angles — overhead, from the side, head-on (at the same level as the subject) — and see which one gives you the best results. Need to include an entire meal in a shot? Shoot it from overhead, and don't be afraid to crop out a few corners.
10. Sharpen Your Photos
Assume that photographers sharpened every great photo you've seen on the web. Most photo editing programs, including PicMonkey, have a sharpen function, so find yours and use it! It may be called something like “Sharpen,” “Unsharp Mask,” or “Smart Sharpen.” Just don’t overdo it—a little goes a long way. Tip: look for an option to “sharpen for web”—that should give you exactly the right amount. Sharpening your photos should be the last step in your editing before saving, especially after you’ve cropped it. Crop first, sharpen last!
Those are some of the basic tips for taking better photos for your blog. Honestly, the best tip I can give you is to slow down. Stop and think about what kind of picture you’d like to see if you were the reader. Then take your time in making the shot that works for your content.
Get your daily dose of instant inspiration by following these 10 talented photographers on Instagram.
Are you a food blogger? Find out how to make your recipe posts POP!
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