These days, social media is a must for any entrepreneur, but especially for artists and creatives! When your life’s work is creating beautiful things for people to put in their homes, it’s sort of important to make sure that people can see what you’re creating! The problem is when pictures of your work get lost in the sea of endless scrolling. The trick to grabbing the attention your work deserves is learning how to take better pictures that will stop the scroll and get some engagement!
I’ve spent over a decade photographing my work to sell it online and I have learned so much about how to take better pictures in that time. When it comes to getting good pictures of your art, it’s not so much about hiring a professional and hosting a full-blown photoshoot (though I do recommend that everyone try that once in a while, it’s fun!), it’s about getting to know the camera you actually have on you 24/7 (your phone) and making a few simple adjustments that will improve the quality of your pictures.
From selfie ideas to poses to perspective, I’m sharing my tips to take better pictures! I swear these simple changes will make all the difference.
How to Take Better Pictures
Get Better Lighting
No matter what you’re photographing, natural lighting is always the most dynamic and flattering. If that’s not an option, try to aim for a bright, diffused light (like a ring light) to prevent any harsh shadows. White light is best for art because it will give the truest indication of color and value.
I went outside to photograph this hand-painted dress because I knew the bright, clear skies would highlight just how vibrant the new Bohemian Brights paints look on this white dress.
Just like in creating art, considering the balance and composition of your canvas before getting started can help you create more aesthetically pleasing works. In this case, the canvas is your photograph and it’s important to consider how things like weight, size, color, and shape come into play when you’re staging your photos.
Notice how the size and weight of this furniture fill up most of the bottom of the frame. I’ve balanced that heaviness with a lot of small, dynamic staging above the piece so that your eye moves around the photo rather than getting stuck in one spot.
To take a more unique photo that will stop a scroll in its tracks, try out some interesting angles! Get really low, tilt your camera, or shoot a close-up to give your audience an intriguing angle.
The photo above was taken with my phone sitting on the ground as I *literally* leapt over the camera! This unusual angle (paired with my tips below) creates a photo that grabs attention and begs for comment.
Sorry to say it but static images are boring images. While it can be important to have simple product photos taken in front of a simple background or a lightbox so that customers can get a good look at your product, these aren’t the kinds of photos that get engagement on social media. Movement in a photo encourages our eyes to scan across the image, following the movement.
In the photo above you can see that the wind has picked up some strands of my hair, blowing it directly across my face. It adds a little bit of drama!
Embrace Negative Space
Negative space is used mainly in minimalist photos, but it can be a powerful tool that can be used to direct attention or highlight a particular element in your photographs. Photos that utilize negative space automatically catch our attention and direct right to the subject of the photo.
Look at this image, for example. Negative space, in this case the bright blue sky, takes up about 2/3 of the frame. The image is anchored with a low-angle shot of the car in the background so that I don’t appear to be floating in space and, with the sun highlighting my face, your eyes are drawn to me and what I’m wearing.
“Banana For Scale”
Have you ever seen the phrase “banana for scale” included in captions online? While it’s sort of a running joke, the principle is clear: it’s important to include a common element in your photos to indicate the size and scale of the subject if you want to sell it. You probably already include dimensions and weight in your product description but providing a frame of reference (like a banana, book, or lamp) makes it easier for buyers to get a clear idea of how big something is.
This photo highlights the size of the furniture piece with a standard sofa, lamp, and a stack of books. It’s clear that this is a large piece of furniture!!
Let’s imagine that I am trying to sell some of the Bohemian Brights paint colors that I curated for DIY Paint. Which would you rather see in your feed: a boring picture of some paint cans or something painted with the paint? Something that shows you the color, opacity, and functionality of the paint so you know exactly what you’re getting? If you’re like 99% of the population then you’re more likely to be interested in the latter. When it comes to photographing products, think outside the box (or can or pouch) to show your audience how your product can change their life.
How to Take Better Pictures… Selfie Edition
Hate taking selfies? Not sure how to pose? What about what to do with your hands?!
I get it! I wasn’t always comfortable in front of the camera! After years of running my business online, though, I learned that the algorithms on social media platforms heavily promote photos that have actual people in them. The human brain simply prefers to look at pictures of other humans… in a way that can majorly increase your conversion rates!
For example, look at the difference between these two images:
While the product photo is fine for a listing on your website, if your goal is social media engagement then the second photo is far more likely to grab attention. Not only does it highlight the product using all of the advice I mentioned above — from including a standard object (my hand!) to changing up the angles — but it gives folks more things to comment on! My outfit, the painting in the background, and (of course) the product itself can all be sources of engagement. And I didn’t even have to show my face!
The good news is that all of the advice above applies when taking selfies!
If you’re struggling to keep these tips in mind then just focus on these three key aspects when it comes to taking better selfies.
Lighting – I simply can’t stress this enough: lighting is EV-ER-Y-THING when it comes to taking good photos, especially selfies. Harsh overhead lighting, dim lamps, and cheap lightbulbs can cast shadows and hues that emphasize things we may not love about ourselves. Sunshine is like a big, warm hug for our features and gives us a natural glow that just can’t be recreated but, as always, ring lights are a good alternative!
Angles – Angles aren’t just for cameras! Create lines and angles using your body for more dynamic and flattering photos. Think a hand on the hip, a wider stance, and a slightly tilted chin. If you’re taking a headshot, try to hold the camera slightly above your head and aim down. Full body shots are fine straight on but things get super glamorous if you shoot from a super high or a super low (think the floor) angle.
Movement – I’m going to say it again: STATIC=BORING! Create movement in your photo by playing with the natural elements (how good do models look when the wind machine is turned on?!) or literally moving your body. Play, dance, twirl, leap, jump — all of these movements can create visual interest while answering the age old selfie question of What do I do with my hands?!
I challenge you to go out there and take some exciting photos! I am betting you’ll see a scroll-stopping difference.