5 Tips for Styling Better Photos

For this week’s #FeaturedFriday, our friend Mandy of mandyforlenza.com is talking all about styling better photos for social media. Take it away, Mandy!

For small businesses and brands; a cohesive visual presence online is mandatory.  What you post on instagram and what you display on your blog or website, need to be aesthetically similar.  How do you accomplish this?  Well, one way, is to become more mindful of the photos you post on social media.  Working on more interesting photo composition and styling photos can make a huge difference.  Here are a few tips I cover in my mini course, Styling for Social Media.  These tips are a great place to start in cleaning house on what you post for the New Year!

Tip No. 1 – One of the most important actions you can take on the way to producing cleaner photos for social media is simply, use natural light.  No exceptions.  No flash, ever.  The coloring and clarity of your photos will be more realistic without interruption of overhead fluorescent or incandescent lights.  So, next time you’re taking a photo, hit the off switch on overhead lighting and rely solely on the natural light in the room.  A few pointers: If it’s very sunny, you may need to try to diffuse the light with a white sheet over the window.  Also, nothing happens 100% naturally, so be sure to play around with a few good apps like snapseed or afterlight and work on adjusting the exposure, brightness, highlights and shadows.  This will clean up the image and make it post-worthy!

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Tip No. 2 – One of the first things I learned while studying Textile Design at FIT; odd numbers are more interesting in design.  I use this theory in styling everything I do today!  Therefore, when displaying something for a photo; whether it is flat lay of clothing with accessories, food dishes or even what’s in your make up bag, use the odd numbers are interesting rule.  One, three, five or even seven items will surely catch the eye of your viewer.

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Tip No. 3 – The rule of subtraction, is what I like to call this one.  Basically, when you’re done setting up a photo, remove one item from the frame.  You will be surprised how easy it is to over style a photo.  An overcrowded image will leave your viewer’s eye wandering and not sure where the focal point is.  Be willing to take many photos, however, keep taking items out of the frame to lighten the visual load.

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Tip No. 4 – You’ve heard it before but it is worth repeating and elaborating on:  Consistency is key. What does this mean in the world of social media imagery?  Let’s say your images are light, bright and airy using mostly white backgrounds and pastels.  Then suddenly your viewers are treated to a bunch of photos with a gothic undertone with dark backgrounds, just because you feel like it.  This is definitely not an aesthetic match to your previous work and will confuse your viewers.  Keep in mind they are following you because they like your visual tone.  Posting imagery that is completely off that path should be avoided.  After all, consistency is key to success!

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Tip No 5. – Last tip and probably the most important:  Be original!  Although this concept is nothing new, for some reason brands are constantly re-gramming and reposting other’s creative work.  Even though it may be credited and even flattering to those you’re showcasing, you are sending mixed messages to your audience.  How, you ask?  You’re constantly trying to gain followers by showcasing your skills and knowledge in your field; however, when posting others’ work you’re suddenly telling viewers you lack the creativity to post original content. Another view to consider, in the short window of time you have to gain a potential customer, you spent it mentioning another brand in your post.  Hmmmm, not the best business plan, right?  So get out there and create some authentic content, just for you.  Need help doing so? Check out my mini course for only $20 here.

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Mandy Forlenza Sticos spent 15 years planning and marketing social events in NYC. In 2013, she launched Little Vintage Rentals, which rents table top items and small décor.  Currently, she works as a creative director and stylist for brands and events and offers a mini course, Styling for Social Media for only $20 now through Jan 31 2016.

7 Sure Fire Ways to Grow Your Creative Business on Instagram

If you are any type of creative business owner, from interior designer to shop owner to blogger, you need to get your pretty tush on Instagram! Instagram is one of the most artistic and captivating social media platforms out there, and if utilized in the right way, it can do wonders to help you grow your business.

The thing I love most about Instagram is pretty much any industry can flourish there. Whether you run a business in fashion, photography, weddings, makeup, tech accessories, food, stationery, graphic design, you name it, you can thrive on Instagram.

Growing your business on Instagram isn’t always easy, but with these 7 tips, get ready to see it soar!

1. Profile picture

From personal experience, we, at LMM headquarters have found that a profile picture with your face does much better than a profile picture with your logo. It humanizes your account and lets your followers see the people behind the business. Especially if you are an entrepreneur or small to medium business owner, it’s essential to ensure your followers feel connected to you!

We are working on growing our Instagram account from scratch over at @lipstickandmuffinmedia and changing our profile image from our logo to our faces has been a game changer!

2. Photography is key

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Good photography is key to success on Instagram. No one wants to look at an account with dark, crooked and off-focus photos! Think about how you want to convey your brand on Instagram and make sure all your photos fit that aesthetic. Is your brand minimal and airy? Feminine and bright? Bold and edgy?

Make sure all your photos fit your brand. You don’t have to be a professional photographer to take awesome photos (I’m sure not!), but practice does make perfect! Make sure to always shoot in natural light, play around with angles and get creative! You’ll find your signature photography style as you go, and it will help in growing your biz!

3. Behind-the-scenes

Human beings are naturally nosy and love to get behind-the-scenes peeks, especially when it comes to creative businesses. It goes beyond being nosy and intrigued. Many people aspire to work in the creative industry, and a behind-the-scenes look offers inspiration, and shows them what a day in the life would be like. With the launch of Instagram stories, it’s even easier to give your followers sneak peeks into your daily life, so go ahead and give them what they want!

4. Flaunt your stuff

If you sell products through your business, whether it’s wall art, website designs, planners, or clothing, use Instagram to show it off! Instagram is one of the most powerful tools you can use to promote your products and show people how your products can fit into their everyday lives.

Do you sell planners for busy girls on the go? Style shots on a marble table top with your planner surrounded by pens, coffee, lipstick, sunglasses and an iPad. All these things are items busy girl bosses see on a daily basis, and working your planner in will show them how it will work perfectly into their lifestyle (and entice them to buy it!).

5. Giveaways

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When we first launched our @lipstickandmuffinmedia Instagram account we held a giveaway. It helped us gain a lot of followers who ended up being our target audience and most of them are still with us today! Not only did we give away some awesome products, we also offered a free social media strategy session for our lucky winner!

Get your creative juices flowing and think about an awesome giveaway you can offer!

6. Collaborate 

Never underestimate the power of Instagram influencers and bloggers. Shoppers are now more inclined to purchase things promoted by their favorite influencers, more so than celebrities or advertisements.

Let’s say you sell pretty stationery. Do some research on lifestyle bloggers/Instagrammers who completely suit your brand. Reach out to them for a collaboration and see if they will help promote your product. You should have a budget set aside for this as many popular Instagrammers will charge to promote a product. Make sure that you do you research, though. Ask them for stats from past campaigns to see if their promotion has resulted in profit.

7. Be consistent

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Consistency is key to growing your followers, and thus your business, on Instagram. If you don’t post for a week, people may get bored and unfollow you. Aim to post at least once a day to keep your followers on their toes! The more you post, the more they will want to see. But don’t overdo it. I would suggest keeping it to a maximum of three a day even if you have a lot of content to post.

Need help growing your business on Instagram? You may be interested in one of our awesome social media packages! You can check them out here!