Social media photography: A how to guide
Social media has long been a platform for sharing snippets of your daily life with the rest of the world (or your immediate friendship group, at least). But as more come to realise the power of the platform, the practice of uploading a photo becomes more than a post-concert afterthought. The nation’s leading Instagram moguls tackle the world of social media photography, with valuable tips on how to take your photograph to thousand-like status.
Liz Sunshine is just as bubbly as her name would suggest, and her photographs are just as smile inducing. The professional photographer behind the social media handle @streetsmith has made her mark on Australia as the leading street documenter of the country’s most fashionable folk. Her long line of work includes photographs for Vogue and Louis Vuitton, just to hit the tip of the high fashion iceberg.
Lisa Hamilton has come a long way from her early knowledge of Instagram. From originally thinking the app was purely for editing photos, the See Want Shop influencer now shares her content with over 335,000 followers. The physiotherapist and self-taught photographer/digital influencer/vlogger promotes a healthy (and happy) lifestyle through a beautifully curated feed.
The right equipment
Before taking your Instagram from a weekend hobbie to a fully-fledged career, you’ll need to invest in the right equipment. While both photographers use professional cameras, there’s much to be said about the quality of mobile phones cameras.
- Canon 5D Mark iv + 24-70mm, 50mm, 70-200mm L series
- Fuji XT2
- Collapsible reflector (translucent and silver)
- Second-hand Canon 5D Mark ii, and new 50mm 1.4f fixed lens
- Olympus PEN ELP-7 (wireless camera)
You might not exactly be chasing rainbows, but you will find yourself chasing light– the key in creating a good image. The right lighting can change the quality, tone and texture of your photograph. Both Liz and Lisa have studied the way the light hits at certain times of the day in certain areas. It sounds highly technical, but take one corner of your room and test what the light looks like in the morning versus the afternoon, and what effect that makes on your photo.
Mastering the ‘Selfie’
“As a photographer I never wanted to be in front of the lens. In the last six months I’ve really turned a corner. It’s been a real struggle for me, but sometimes self-portraits are the only way to capture what I want to show people.” - Liz
Liz proposes there’s a new selfie trend approaching– the self-portrait. Rather than a pout-and-pose, the self-portrait reads more like a professional photo shoot. No one would know you took it yourself, so make sure to boast about it in the caption. Head to Liz’s Instagram (@streetsmith) for some major inspiration.
Finding the perfect backdrop
“I’m always scouting for shoot locations in Melbourne. I love when I accidentally take a wrong turn.” – Lisa
From pink walls to graffiti lanes, it often feels that Melbourne was created purely for the pursuit of the perfect Instagram image. On the way to your next brunch, have a look at your surroundings and you just might find your next image backdrop.
How to shoot on the go
“If you’re going to be standing on a stool in the middle of a café, you want people to think you know what you’re doing.” – Liz
Now that you’ve found your inspiration, secured your location and considered the lighting, it’s time to execute your image. A little pre-planning goes a long way in creating a photograph that needs little editing.
Before taking a single photo, Liz will circle her location, think about the shot she wants to create, and plan how to manifest that. It’s only then that she’ll set up her camera and hit ‘click.’
How to edit
“Presets are a lifesaver.” – Lisa
FaceTune is a no-no (the thigh-slimming, face-smoothing, reality-adjusting photo fixer). Photoshop and Lightroom, however, are integral to producing balanced photographs. The apps can be used on the go with the mobile version, or on desktop computers.
Liz mostly uses Lightroom, with slight adjustments made in Photoshop. She prefers a warmer, creamier tone, so Liz increases yellow tones. Before making their debut on her Intagram feed, all of Liz’s photos go through the app SnapSeed.
Lisa prefers using Photoshop, in which she de-saturates yellow and green tones. Presets, where levels of adjustment are pre-fixed, save Lisa time when it comes to editing and ensure her photos are uniform.
Filters: yay or nay?
Popular filters of the early Instagram days don’t make for the prettiest of feeds today. Valencia, its time we parted ways. Both Liz and Lisa agree that oversaturated, high contrast filters aren’t currently trending in the world of social media photography. Unless that’s your style, of course, but be consistent with your images for a cohesive offering.
Some last minute thoughts on social media photography:
“Know your ratios. I always shoot with extra headroom at the top as Instagram has a tendency to crop” – Liz
“Apps change all the time. Get experimental with different features.” – Liz
“There needs to be a lot more videographers in Melbourne, they’re few and far between.” – Lisa
“We’re inundated with so much visual stimulus. Social media really comes down to your personal approach. Be true to what you see and what you want to show.” – Liz
Fashion Talks 2 – Social Media Photography is presented by AMP Capital Shopping Centres
Written by Anastasia McInerney