Melissa in her natural state.                                   (Need For Steed Photo)

Your camera battery is charged, your social media followers are excited to see your work, and you’re ready to start creating your own visual aids! But have you thought about a few of the details that will take posts from something your followers ignore to something they share with everyone they know?

More goes into getting good photos for your social media pages (or websites or any other marketing material you may use the photos for) than just pointing and shooting. While a blog about all the details that go into getting a good photo from settings to lighting needed would go beyond winning a Nanowrimo award, here are five easy tips that will give you more than enough photos to be proud of posting on any medium.

And remember the Golden Rule before you post a photo: “Would you buy the product advertised in the photo if it was used in an ad?” If not, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. But don’t worry – you’ll quickly take even better photos that are exactly what you need to represent your business.

Lessen Distractions – When taking a photo of your product (be it a horse, tractor, or mailbox) make sure that your intended subject is what draws viewers’ attention. While it can take extra effort to make sure that there isn’t a post sticking out of your horse’s back in a conformation shot or the neighbor’s rusted out car isn’t the first thing that catches the eye in that fabulous jumping photo, it is worth it. Yes, it is easy to edit some objects out but it’s not always a good idea – we’ll share more about that later.

While the background does have quite a few things in it, I was able to position all four subjects so they were the obvious focus.

On the same note, make sure your photo is as clear as possible unless you intentionally added some blur to it. Having a bit of blur can add some artistic value to a photo but in most cases it can be distracting. This can take away from your message.

Watch Your Angles – Horses can be majestic … But they can also look incredibly funky if you shoot from certain angles. Before posting a photo of your horse, make sure the angle is a flattering one. There are always exceptions to this, like when you’re taking a funny photo but even then you can make the horse (or cow or sheep) look good while getting the humor across.

Remember, at the end of the day, this is the image portraying your business. Even if you aren’t going to sell your mare, you may sell a foal out of her one day or even a foal out of a relative. You don’t want buyers thinking that someone in the family looks awkward when she doesn’t, especially if the animal they are buying is set to be breeding stock. While posting photos that aren’t the most flattering of your animals may be okay for your personal page (but be aware of your friends list on that page as well) if it isn’t a good representation of your business, it shouldn’t go on your business page.

An important thing is to know your subject. This mare isn’t as perky as I’d like but I also know that is her normal “happy” expression.

Put the Effort Into Happy & Alert Expressions – Just like humans, animals can be in bad moods or over having their photo taken. But even if it takes an extra five minutes, try to get them with a pleasant expression. Of course, there can be exceptions to this depending on what you’re going for (i.e. a Monday morning blues photo where you want a grumpier or disinterested look) but if there’s no reason for the horse to look like they’d rather be anywhere else, don’t post the photo.

I’ve found that most horses (and other animals) react well to animal sound apps on your phone and you can usually get apps with many different kinds of noises for free. Just be aware that if you have a flightier animal, they may spook at certain sounds so you’re better off testing out the noises you plan on using in a safe place and with a handler that can calm them.

Don’t Be Afraid to Have Fun – Some of the above tips may have made it sound like photographing and choosing photos for your social media should be a 100% serious business, but that is not the case. While you should make sure the photos are good representations of your business, if you love a photo and think it is hilarious put it up. At the end of the day, if you’re not having fun with your social media, your fans won’t either. So post things you find enjoyable.

Bonus tip: If you love a photo but don’t think it represents a certain animal well, turning a photo black and white can help make it harder to identify the animal if it doesn’t have unique markings. Black and white also helps if (going back to the first point) your photo is a little blurry as it usually tones down the unintentional blur or can even make it disappear to those who didn’t know it was there. An added bonus is that it adds an artistic flare, so it is worth taking away the color at times even if there is nothing wrong with it.

A few small changes were made to this photo but small edits are much harder to notice than big ones.

Watch Your Editing – Photoshop and other editing programs are great tools for everything from a simple image crop to editing out shanks but they are also tools to be very careful with. Admittedly, it is fun to play around and see what you can make disappear or appear but it takes an experienced hand to make a highly edited photo look like it hasn’t been touched at all.

Editing that has clearly been done can be extremely distracting and make viewers wonder what else you’ve changed, especially if you’re trying to sell something. Like was mentioned under that first point, removing small objects may be worth it if you don’t have a clear space to shoot but you need to make sure it will look natural. Do you want to remove the horse’s shank? Make sure you also remove the chain he’s wearing over his nose or that will be the first thing people notice. Do you want to get rid of that poop pile in the grass? You’re better off selecting a similar area away from the place you want to edit to make it clear a clone stamp wasn’t used.

Take a small break then look at the photo after you make your edits – if the edit is obvious to you, odds are it will be to everyone else too.

Overall, choosing photos to use on your social media comes down to photographs you like and think best represent your business. But as said in a previous blog, if a photo won’t sell you on a product it probably won’t sell your clients on it either.  Figuring out what your clients respond to positively and what they don’t is admittedly a challenge but it’s an easier one to solve when you start out with good images that attract the eye, even if they aren’t exactly what the client is looking for.

If photography isn’t for you, Pyrois Media offers photography services to help you get the perfect photos for your business.

Have a topic you’d like to see covered here? Email Info@PyroisMedia.com with your suggestions and you could see it in a future blog!