Photography is one of those things you can barely imagine life without. Our photos are our memories, they are how we represent real life in a digital world, they sell our products, they tell our stories.
In building our social media personalities photography plays a huge part. Presenting ourselves as real people in a world that’s all business, often means whipping out a camera to capture real life as it happens. In other words, we’re all photographers at some point.
Of course, a professional photographer with a fancy camera and all the proper gear is going to get you some beautiful images to use. But sometimes, you are going to be the only photographer around. Sometimes you can’t plan when a moment worth capturing is going to happen.
Knowing a few rules about photography and composition can be the difference between a random weekend snap, and a photo that catches someone’s eye and makes them want to know more. There are a few super basic rules we can keep in mind when the old smartphone gets pulled out at the family barbeque or weekend hiking trip.
The rule of thirds
You might have seen that grid appear over photos sometimes, you know the two vertical, two horizontal lines making nine squares across your image? That grid exists as a guide to help you position your subject in the photo.
Splitting up your image into thirds makes an image more interesting to look at, and it makes any quick snap look more thought out and professionally composed.
Don’t forget your background
It can be easy to forget when you’re clicking away taking photos of your cousin's new puppy, what’s in the background of the photo. It’s often not until later, looking back through all the photos that you took, that you notice the piles of rubbish or other such distractions that take away from the point of the photo.
Always think about the whole image when you’re taking a quick photo, check what’s in the background. If the subject of your photo is able to be moved, put them against a background that will compliment the image, not take away from it. If it means waiting a few seconds until the puppy has walked away from a distracting spot, do it, take the time to get the better shot.
Look at the lines
Lines are everywhere. Nearly everything you look at will create some kind of line. Our eyes can’t help but be guided by lines and you can use this to your advantage in your photography.
Take note of the lines around you and position them in the frame so that they guide the viewer’s eye to the main focus point, or to move fluidly through the shot.
Some lines that you’ll see all the time will be things like power lines, roads, rows of trees, rivers, paths, stairs, edges of walls… I could go on and on. Lines really are all over the place, using them right can make some really cool photos.
Use natural light whenever possible
Especially if you’re using a smartphone camera, avoid using the flash with every ounce of your efforts. It can be tempting to blind everyone with that burst of cold white light to get a photo in a dark room, but it’s rarely ever worth it.
Get close to a window or go outside to get some sunlight, you’re photos will have richer colour and look warm and natural. Steer clear of direct sun though, you want sunlight, but not all of it. Filter the sun through a tree or move until it’s behind something. Some of the best photos you’ll take will be first thing in the morning or just before the sun sets in the evening when the angle of the sun is making everything soft and golden. You might have heard the term ‘golden hour’ before, that’s what we’re talking about here.
Just like the lines we talked about before, you can often find the perfect frame for your subject, just lying around. Doorways, tree branches, hanging washing, there are so many things you can find that will make a frame for your photo. Just have a look around at how shapes fit together and work it into your image. Framing your subject is a really nice creative touch to any photo.
Good photography can add a lot to your online presence. A well-framed photo will create intrigue and will have your audience looking for more. We are so drawn to things that look good, we’ll follow a trail of nice photos a damn long way.
Hiring a photographer is always a good idea as part of building your business, brand and online presence. You’ll need the high quality, pre-planned shots to use all the time. It’s also important though, especially for your social platforms, to know how to take a good photo just using what you’ve got. These quick, in-the-moment shots hold just as much importance sometimes as a full-blown photo shoot.
When you start to practise these few composition rules, they’ll become a habit. After a while you’ll use the rules without even thinking about it, you’ll also notice about everyone else’s photos as you look at them too.