Remember: creativity is not a passive process. If you've lost your spark, there are ways to reignite it. Start with these six practical tips.
We all know the adage – “a picture is worth a thousand words” – and in the age of digital marketing, photography has never been more relevant. Our timelines and feeds are flooded with images. So, how do you and your biz stand out? We’ve got you covered with these six genius tips, courtesy of photographer and content creator Estee de Villiers.
1/ Keep it eye-catching
Short attention spans mean you often only have a few seconds to make a good impression. It only takes one glance for people to make a snap decision about your website and social media feeds.
Images are important to establish who you are and what your values are. “Images speak to your style and aesthetic,” says Estee. “Imagine for a second how different a boxing gym’s Insta would look compared to a virtual assistant’s feed…”
How to get the most out of your images:
1/ Always ensure you’re using high-quality, eye-catching pictures. Blurry, pixilated, random? Bin it.
2/ Consider using a photographer who has shot for social media before – this will go a long way in securing a library of relevant content.
2/ Make eye contact
Have you ever noticed how the models on magazine covers are looking straight at the camera? They make eye contact with you as you pass the shelves and invite you to have a longer look. “For your website’s ‘about’ page, use a picture where you’re making eye contact with your potential clients. On social media, you can spice it up, but make sure you have a camera-facing image on your highlights or as your profile picture,” says Estee.
3/ Consider composition
Composition is a tool you can use to communicate your values. “Think of minimalist and desaturated images versus busy and vibrant. Both would say something about you. You need to keep this in mind when taking or selecting images,” says Estee.
Sourcing reference images is a great way to plan your content. Pinterest is your best friend! You can make and share secret boards and a print-out on shoot day is super-helpful to stay on-plan.
A good rule to follow: pick one thing that will be the hero in your image, says Estee. All the other elements should support, enhance or complement the hero.
4/ Use colour strategically
Colours (or the lack thereof) say something about you and your business. Having a preselected colour palette for your brand is advised. Use decor, props and clothing to bring those colours into your images, then edit the images to best highlight those hues.
“Think of a brand like Revlon, who is associated with the colour red. Red lipstick and pops of red in the decor is an easy way to make the images identifiable. To create a colour palette, a tool like Adobe Colour is super-useful. You can then use the colour codes of your selected palette on Canva to make your Instagram stories on-brand,” says Estee.
5/ Keep it LIT
Good lighting will go a long way in making your images look professional – even if you’re just using your phone camera. If you’re shooting during the day, find a spot in the shade, or shoot at dawn or sunset to avoid harsh shadows. “To adjust and enhance your images on your phone, use editing apps like Lightroom [For] Mobile, Tezza or VSCO. On a desktop, Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop does wonders,” says Estee.
You can use apps like Canva, Over or Unfold to create layouts for Instagram Stories. Another tip: Lightroom presets (for mobile or desktop) can help you achieve a consistent look and feel for your images.
“I’ve tested many presets and love the ones local wedding photographer Christine Meintjies put together,” says Estee. “For mobile presets I use the ones by Jaci Marie. The photos always need tweaking – even with a preset – and here YouTube is a great resource. When it comes to editing, remember: less is more.”
6/ Content is king, curation is queen
Once you have incredible images, the next step is deciding how to use them. “For Instagram, I’d recommend a grid-planning app like Preview, Planoly or UNUM. These will help you to curate your images into a coherent feed. When someone looks at your profile, they generally only see the top nine images, so it’s important that these tell a story about you,” says Estee.
There are multiple ways to lay out your feed. For example, you can choose to put the same frame around each image to create a unique-looking feed, or organise your pictures diagonally or horizontally into themes.
Another good rule of thumb is to post one busier image next to a more minimalist pic. You want your feed to look coherent and professional, explains Estee. Keep it authentic and true to yourself or your brand, and ask for feedback from trusted friends.