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.