Upping your photography game on Instagram can having amazing benefits for your brand. Not only can it help to benefits for your brand to your website, but it can also substantially increase user engagement with your posts, which in turn will boost those posts according to Instagram’s algorithm.
But How To Get Started?
There are plenty of tutorial posts out there on the nuts and bolts of taking product photos—either with your phone or with a professional camera.
But there’s a lot more to it than merely figuring out lighting and camera settings. Here are five tips to before and after you hit your camera’s shutter that might make all the difference.
1. Planning, Planning, Planning
Instagram is unique in a number of ways, one of which is the grid that gets created as you upload photos. So while your followers will see your images one at a time in their feeds, when they click on your profile they’ll see a mosaic of all your recent photos.
Think of this like a sort of profile photo for your brand, except it’s always changing and is made up of different parts. But like your profile picture it needs to have a cohesive appearance that reflects or illustrates the personality of your brand. And that takes planning.
So take some time to consider what your overall Instagram aesthetic should not only look like, but also feel like. Then create the photos that share that common vibe and imagine how they would look in Instagram’s grid, how they together will augment the overall feeling of your brand.
2. Use A Variety Of Product Photos
Once you’ve settled on the feeling and vibe you want your photos and grid to evoke, it’s now time to consider what type of product photos to include. There are a number of different choices, but the two most commonly used ones are:
A. The Standard Product Photo On A White Background
White-background product shots generally show all the different angles a prospective buyer might want to examine the product from.
While these are important, alone they’re not enough to keep your audience engaged, especially when you’re thinking in terms of your overall aesthetic. So while these product shots are important, don’t rely on them as your only style.
B. The Lifestyle Shot Demonstrating The Product Being Used
This style of shot is often a bit more challenging to do well, but it’s one that creates a lot more interest overall.
These shots show your followers all the different ways your products can be used or worn, offering them (hopefully) creative example of things they too can do.
In addition to these two types of product shots, there are a number of other options, all of which can build your brand. Some of these include:
- The Flat Lay – An Instagram favorite, the flat lay is composed of a number of different items artfully arranged together and then shot from above. Flat lays are especially effective for evoking a mood or inspiring a look—especially if you sell beauty or fashion products. But they’re great for any kind of ensemble shot you can dream up. For example, if you have a clothing company, you can place the components of an entire outfit together. If you sell camera backpacks, you can show all the things the pack can hold. If you sell travel supplies, you can make a shot of all the different ones that go together. The possibilities are endless.
- Feature Customers Using Your Products – This is a specific type of lifestyle shot that allows you to combine customer testimonials with the product shot itself. Great for creating user engagement!
- Behind The Scenes – Showing how your products are made or how your brand prepares for an event can be an exciting option to add to your aesthetic and are also fantastic generators of user engagement.
Together, all of these different types of product shots will make up the mosaic your users see when they look at your profile, so plan them accordingly. They should work together like a nicely made puzzle whose pieces make up an aesthetic whole.
3. The Art Of Generating Square Photos
Instagram is unique in a number of ways, but one which you won’t find many other places is that it deals exclusively in the square photo. But while most photography apps come with the the option of taking square photos, it’s not often your best bet.
These apps will help you compose square photos more accurately, but the resulting photos will have less pixels, leaving you with less flexibility when it comes to cropping.
It’s generally better to take your Instagram product photos in landscape or portrait mode, all the while keeping in mind that you’ll be cropping it down to a square. And keep in mind, most of the standard composition rules still hold when composing in a square. Take the rule of thirds, for instance:
If shooting in landscape mode and then cropping to a square isn’t working for you, you can always use VSCO Cam’s square mode—it’ll let you compose in a square but will save your photo as a landscape for maximum cropping options.
4. Explore Your Editing Options
To really bring out the highest quality in your photos, it’s best to look beyond the editing tools and filters provided by Instagram.
While pros who are shooting with cameras other than their smartphone will still use Adobe Lightroom and some of its challengers like On1 and Luminar, there are also a number of high quality smartphone apps out there for you mobile photographers.
5. Curate Your Feed
While we’d like our brand to be defined by its best images, it will often be dismissed for its worst. In the marketing world, your Instagram feed should be more or less a portfolio of your best work.
It should highlight what you have to offer and show your products and your brand at their best. That means culling out any shot that doesn’t quite cut it. Be critical, and if in doubt, ditch. Include images that only add value to your image.
Of course, these 5 principles won’t do you much good if you don’t spend some time learning your camera, studying composition techniques, and learning a bit about lighting. But once you’ve done these things, these 5 tips should hold you in good stead!