Taking and Sharing great Photos
Posted on June 20, 2012 by Lawrence Smith - Leave a comment
What camera, how do I take a great photo, and where do I put them? Questions you might have asked yourself. Flickr or Instagram, or one of the others? What’s best and how do you choose?
With the introduction of smartphones and the fantastic cameras they come with, there has been a surge in the number of photographs posted online and in social media. On Flickr for example, one of the older photo services, the iPhone is now the most popular “camera”. And on Instagram, the iPhone was the only camera, until they recently released an Android app.
It’s no secret, if you’ve posted anything on Facebook, that photos (and video) are the most commonly shared content. People love a good photo, but I guess we’ve always known that; “a picture tells 1000 words”. People love great pictures, and they love sharing great pictures. Why? Because pictures tell a story; they inform and inspire.
The first step to taking a great photo is having a decent camera. My preferred set of gear, in the order of quality, is my Canon 7D, then my fab little point and shoot, a Canon S100, and finally my Galaxy S2. All take great photos, and all have a slightly different purposes. The Galaxy is the easiest to share, the S100 is very portable and the 7D, well it’s a great digital SLR. Oh yep, I also forgot, my GoPro HD Hero. But then there are many great cameras these days and as a rule, the more you pay, the better the camera, and thus photo. Whatever you do, don’t skimp. These photos are selling your business.
The second step is taking a great photo, and while some may think they only take “snaps” there are some simple rules that can help you, such as the rule of thirds which is all about composition. Lighting is the next biggest influence, arguably bigger, you may have heard of the “golden hour”. Morning or evening is best, noon can be worst. And before I forget, many people, myself included like to “touch up” or manipulate the photos in some way. Take out a distraction, boost some colour, whatever you like. My preferred easy-to-use package is Adobe Photoshop Elements (around $120).
And then, once you’ve taken the photo, you need to get it out there. So, where do you put it? The first and most obvious answer is your website. But, that is itself interesting. On our new snow reports website launching next week, most of the photos will be sourced directly from our Flickr group. Next most obvious outlet? Facebook of course, the bonus being that if your fans love it, they will share it.
OK I hear you say, what about Instagram and Flickr? Interesting. As you might know, Flickr has been around for many years and is now owned by Yahoo! Historically Flickr has been the place to store and share photos. Sadly however, Flickr isn’t very cool or hip these days. That crown has gone to Instagram, a service for smartphone users to take a photo, apply a filter and upload it for friends to see. Personally, while I like the sharing aspect, I am not a fan of Instagram. As a photographer I don’t like the output shape, I hate the filters, only your friends can see them, and the reality is that most of the photos uploaded are incredibly average. It’s also a closed community, sort of like Facebook. Which is why they bought it!
Flickr on the other hand allows you to store photos are varying resolutions, allows them to be categorised and grouped, shared to your website, seen by or contributed to by anyone, and in my opinion, is just a whole lot more useful. But, it’s not cool.
Taking of the photos aside then, the services you use to display and share photos will vary according to your audience and specific needs. On our new snow reports site we’ll definitely be taking photos with smartphones, and sharing them on Facebook and Twitter. The “here and now” photos. We’ll also be using Flickr as I mentioned earlier to store and share photos, from other users and ski areas, which we’ll then deliver back to our site. We’ll have to ability to moderate and control which photos we use, or not.
The reality is that there’s no right or wrong approach, aside from taking great photos in the first place and applying the mantra of “less is more”. If you use Instagram, please do it for more than just the filters, work on building a community. But then I’ll ask you why are you trying to build two, or more communities. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and whatever is new next week …