Today I’m sharing the easiest photography tip that I’ve learned in recent years, which has had the greatest impact on my online presence. I’ve spent years honing my skills and paying attention to why I like others’ photography–what draws me in and why. I’ve studied how my readers, customers, and followers have stayed engaged in a more meaningful way since I’ve embraced this one and only simple photography rule.
It doesn’t cost hundreds of dollars, and it doesn’t require hours of training. You don’t need to enroll in a fancy photography course, or purchase special equipment for your camera. Today’s photography tip guarantees to make your blog, product, social media (whatever kind of) photography stand out from everyone else, which in turn will boost engagement, clicks, brand awareness, and the overall success of your online presence.
Without further ado….the rule I live by:
ALL BRAND PHOTOGRAPHS WILL BE SHOT IN AN ABUNDANCE OF GOOD BRIGHT LIGHT
It’s really that simple, friend.
Lighting. Is. Everything.
If you follow this rule, and share only well-lit, crisp, vibrant, not over-filtered photos, your online presence will grow leaps and bounds. You do not have to use an expensive DSLR. You do not have to hire a professional photography. Promise me, after you finish reading this post, you will photograph everything that represents your online brand in good bright light from this point on.
Plan your day around when the lighting is best.
Pay attention to what hours of the day your home or workspace is the brightest. Then work it into your daily schedule to shoot at that time. A brighter environment will allow your photos to have a crisp, professional quality. Some think they can get away shooting in poor light by over-doctoring a photo in an editing app. There is no replacing good lighting.
If your home or workspace lighting isn’t great, or is only bright at times you are unavailable to shoot, get outside. You don’t want to take shots in direct sunlight, that often results in over-exposure or harsh shadows. Some of my favorite portraits I ever shot (of my sisters) were both taken outside. We were in the shade of a building, but the sun was reflecting off a wall from us that light up their faces. They both love these shots and think I’m a photographic mastermind, which I am not. I just know how to make light work for me!
When all else fails, use a light kit.
When natural light is not an option, I use this lighting umbrella kit. Often times I style a scene for the blog like the below photo, and with the props or background, it’s difficult to set up outside or get close to a window. I love the light umbrella option, because I can move it around the scene to wherever I need light. Using a white bulb is best, so no yellow tones are cast. It folds up and stores nicely in my closet when I’m not using it. I strongly recommend investing in this light kit!
Enhance your photo in an editing app or Lightroom.
I take my photos with lighting in mind 100% of the time, yet I usually still need to boost them a smidgen in Lightroom. I typically will use only the brightness tool, and usually only a few other tweaks if I’ve shot in good light. I think it’s fine to enhance the shot a bit, but when you altogether rely on the tool to make the photo look good, that’s when it becomes over-doctored and looks like a lower quality shot.
Don’t overuse filters.
Embrace the #nofilter. I am so over Instagram’s pre-made filters. In the beginning they made our photos look original, stylized and unique. And now everything is so completely overly filtered. Most of the time, a pre-made Instagram filter casts weird dark shadows on faces, or make skin tone look uneven, or create blotches of harsh color. If you absolutely must use a filter, try setting its intensity to 25-50%. (Pssst, or edit it with more powerful tool like Lightroom.)
Upload for perspective.
Sometimes I’m working with so many photos at once, I lose perspective at what I’m looking at–is it too bright, or too dark? My eyes can’t tell when I’m working with a lot of photos at once, and everything starts to look the same. When this photo-overwhelm happens, I upload several versions of the same shot to a private album in Flickr before I post anything. Sometimes I don’t realize how dark a photo is until I see it posted on the web. It’s an extra step, but worth it to me to share the right shot.
The likes don’t lie.
Take a look at the below examples of my Instagram. The left is a screenshot from when I was clueless about lighting and over-filtered everything I shared, the right is a screenshot from when I embraced this lighting rule. While the “before” shots are fine for sharing on Instagram with friends and family, I think you’ll agree that the “after shots” come across as much more professional and appealing to the eye. If you don’t believe me, the left photos average around 2-10 likes, while the right photos average around 250-300 likes. The likes don’t lie, friend!
I hope you are convinced by now, that lighting can be your greatest photography tool. It’s helped me grow my social channels combined to over 10,000 followers from about 400. It’s helped me attract over 1,000,000 views to this website and blog. It’s helped me shoot a blog post that went viral on Pinterest in a few short months. Your online presence is as good and as professional as the brand photos you share.
Until next time….keep it nice and bright!