For many of you, summer vacation is winding down and the kids are getting ready for school. Now’s the time to document your last-minute trips and take your annual first-day-of-school photos and share them on your favorite social media platform. Before you hit that post, share, or tweet button, think about this—Facebook users upload 300 million photos per day. How can you make your photos stand out in the newsfeeds of your family, friends, customers, and colleagues?
Taking the Photo
First, ask yourself why you’re snapping photos. Taking 300 pictures at Johnny’s orchestra concert will likely yield few photos worth keeping—no offense to Johnny. Instead, consider taking a picture of him with his cello before or after the concert, with his band teacher, or with some friends. By strategically staging your shot, you can enjoy the concert rather than spending the entire event occupied with a camera.
Second, use the rule of thirds. Instead of placing your subject exactly in the middle of your frame, put it to the side (the third of the frame to the left or right) for added interest.
all photos courtesy Tara Ross
Third, consider the composition of your photo. Get close and personal—closer than you might think. Everyone takes photos of the Eiffel Tower from a distance. Why not snap a picture of the tower from the base looking up?
Fourth, consider the medium. If you’re using your smartphone, you can use fun apps like Instagram to add effects as you take the picture.
Editing the Photo
Whether you are using a digital SLR camera, a point and shoot, or your smartphone, almost all images need a little editing. Your smartphone probably has basic editing features, but simple programs like Instagram (a social networking site on its own) and PicMonkey can let you alter saturation or add filters, black and white effects, and borders. PicMonkey gives you more editing options, including text overlay, blurred backgrounds, textures, and lighting effects.
Another fun, easy-to-use app is WordSwag. Their preset text designs allow the user to select the design they like, add the preferred color, and input the wording.
You can also use your computer to edit your photos. Free programs such as Picasa provide tools for making your pictures come to life. However, Picasa is a photo viewing and editing program; it does not store your photos. Be aware that if you delete an image in Picasa, you are deleting it from your hard drive. (Trust me—I speak from experience.)
Mac users have iPhoto at their disposal. While importing and exporting photos to and from iPhoto can be clunky, it provides a variety of straightforward editing tools to make your photos shine. If you’re looking for a more robust photo-editing solution, you can also pick up Photoshop or Lightroom by Adobe.
The key is to pick a program and see if you like it. For most snappers, Instagram and PicMonkey will provide the easiest on-the-go solutions.
Sharing your Photos
The key to gaining traction with your photos on Facebook is not to upload fifty photos at a time and hope that your friends are devoted enough to look through all of them. Pick one or two favorites to share each day or each week. Include funny captions or questions for your friends to answer, like “Spin the globe and guess where we are in this photo!” If you have your own website, you can even direct your friends to there for the full gallery of pictures.
Many applications or social networking platforms let you share your photos right after you’ve edited them. Besides sharing to Facebook, consider sharing to Instagram, Flickr, and Pinterest. Instagram is a great alternative to Facebook that focuses on photography rather than the latest cat meme. Flickr is a photo-sharing site where professional and amateur photographers alike share their images. Pinterest allows users to create pinboards where they share favorite images along with a description and a link back to where the image is posted. That link could be to your blog or to your Flickr account.
As you work with your photos, remember the basics of composition and editing. Share selectively to encourage more engagement with your pictures. As you post, ask questions to encourage others to respond.