Creative Do's and Don'ts
So that brings us to ah, the creative do's and dont's of social media for photographers. Um, I think it's important to understand that we have things that are creatively good in all photographic realms and things, things that are very specific to food photography and then even specific mawr still to mobile and social media posting. So I actually have a graphic that I want to share with you from my book that, um, is the very much this the do's and don't of, ah sort of creative rules to post by. So I have this graphic in my book that I want to share with you. Um, it's it was designed by my book, my book designers, a guy named Caruso who was fantastic, and in the conversations, he was saying, You know, there's some really important things you say about posting on social media. Maybe we should make this really cool graphic, and we made it. We ended up making several others because it turned out to be a really cool element for the book. But it definitely bears bringing up here because I fee...
l like it's something that we could discuss in terms of the Do's and dont's off social media posting. We always want to be in good light, right? So there are lots of examples of being in good light in my instagram feed. But there are particular ones that I want to share with you because they're the ones where we're just kind of relying on available light foreign, for instance, something like this. Now this is indoors, and I'm using available light. I'm obviously gonna process this after the fact, but it's not craft. It's not crafted light. It's it's I'm happening to be in an indoor situation where I have some available light that's gonna allow me to make a good shot. So I don't often shoot inside in restaurants. But there are occasionally times when I'm near a window or there's a skylight. Or is this some way that I can actually get decent light on my subject that I'll take the shot you need to be able to identify when you're in that situation where your inner place and the food looks great, but clearly you don't have available light, so maybe it's you pass on that shot. You just enjoy the food. But when you are in a situation where you get great light, you have to be able to recognize it and execute the shot. Another sort of common thing with available light is outdoor shop shooting and very often harsh. Sunlight is really hard to shoot with, and you you see the great shot there. But it's not really giving you what you want. So if you wait for the sun to move a little bit or you have the ability to t shade or scream this scream, the sunshine coming in or maybe even moved the barbecue under the tree so you have some dappled sunlight. That's another way to sort of understand that you need to look for the light you want, but and sometimes sort of help it along. But the idea is, try not to shoot in terrible light when you're posting on social, because the reality is you have to be again on Brand when it comes to your photography. I do not shoot when I'm out in public, unless I know I can make the shot. And I think you have to think about that, especially if your particular brand of photography is not very environmental or not very loose but very crafted like minus. You might want to be really careful about the light you're shooting in. One of the things that comes that comes to mind that surprises a lot of people. When I say this is that I edit my instagram feed I edited all the time. I have less than 1000 pictures in my Instagram feed, and I've been on instagram since 2013 and that's because I consistently go back and edit out things that I don't no longer think fit the feed that no longer feel like the work I'm doing. Or maybe it's not a picture I was particularly proud of, or maybe it's a picture that my audience didn't respond to. So if you look at those particular parameters and understand that your feet is something that should be representative off what you're capable of, but also what you're proud of and what you want to put out there and also what your audience is demanding of you, it's good to go back and edit your feed and be really careful on craft and showed a curate the things that you're presenting in what amounts to be your portfolio. I try toe on Lee present work in public that is of a certain level now. I'm a professional photographer who has been working in the food sort of space for almost 20 years. I have lots and lots of photographs, like in post on Instagram, more than I'll ever post in my lifetime. So I need to be really careful that what I'm posting is representative that the fact that that's who I am and that's what I'm presenting to the world. And that's what I'm presenting to my potential clients is that I have a lot of experience and I know what good is. I know what my best work is, and I know what my audience is responding to. Sign on Lee post professional level, professional quality photography. And I think that whatever is the top of your level, whether you're a really talented amateur, where whether you're a new professional, whether you're a seasoned professional, you need to be posting the things that are the absolute best of what it is that you present to your potential clients. And that means that you gotta pass. You basically got a post the best post the best you got. Take everything else away. One of the things and you see that I'm kind of laughing a little bit. Is the the idea of over sharing right over sharing not so much as over sharing of a personal nature, but over sharing in terms of how much work you're presenting to your feed. Now we've all you know are familiar with the phrase You just blew up my feed with 25 pictures of your family vacation and occasionally that's gonna happen. But that should not be you. It certainly shouldn't be you with your work. And it shouldn't be you with your work from the same photo shoot. So this goat comes down to editing again, understanding how to edit yourself, understanding that posting frequently is fine. Too much is maybe a little bit too much. But understanding and finding that balance between what is beneficial for you and in terms of timing, but also what your audience is requiring of you on, I don't think that's posting four and five and six times a day. I don't think it's posting once a month, but I do think that there is some balance in between because I think that you want toe present that your shore of yourself as an artist and I think posting regularly but infrequently and not trying to let your audience decide what the best photo is. So, for example, if I'm on a set and I just did my chute and I and I go to post photos from the shoot and I post three or four different photos off basically the same dish. What to me is that saying, is that you haven't decided which one is the best yet, and that's your job. It's your job to decide which one of those photos is the best and then present it to your audience, not leave it up to your audience to decide which one is the best, because invariably you have to tune your I to your own work. But you also have to understand that that's not your audiences job. Their job is to enjoy your best work, not decide which one is best. So that's what I mean by over sharing one of things that I think you should also be very mindful of, especially in a professional setting that when you're presenting work on social media, captioning is really important letting your audience know what it is that they're looking at is one way of doing it. A second way of doing it is having a personality. And in talking to people who work in social media, they tell me that those two things, either What am I looking at? Or give me something to think about with the caption. So captioning information really can carry a post a Z. If you catch somebody's eye and they think enough to read the caption, you can really start to build a reputation as somebody who's entertaining or somebody who is informative. So there are times in my captioning where I explain how I made the photo or explain my motivation for the photo. And then sometimes I'll post a caption that the photo reminded me of something or reminded me of a song lyric. Or I had some kind of a quip or some kind of ah, literary reference or something. But the reality is that I want people to think when they read my captions, I don't want it to just be playing and something that they'll just cruise right over. It's giving you an opportunity to be creative, informative educational, all these different things. The caption is something that's really important, that you should always take care to put as much care into the caption as you did into the photograph. And in addition to the informational aspect of the entertainment aspect of your captioning, is crediting If you work with other people on a particular project on a particular photo. You want to tell your audience who those people are because you want to celebrate the fact that your food stylist's dynamite you want to celebrate that you worked in this great studio and they were really good to you. You want to celebrate the fact that your proper picked the absolute perfect things. So by giving credit to your team, you're effectually letting your audience know that you are really, ah, good person to work with. And that could also bleed into the idea of your clients looking at you. Going with that person gets it. They credit their team their humble. They put it out there that they're really kind of supportive of everybody around them, and that's really important from a stylistic perspective. One were shooting. A lot of times we forget the fact that the tools that we use give us the opportunity to remake the photos once we've shot. Um, so one of the things that it took me a while to get and understand about my own shooting was I didn't always have to make the perfect shot in the viewfinder. What I could do is take the shot a little wider and crop into it to make an even better picture. So there there are times when there something might be distracting in your photo or it falls off the table and you don't really, and you're seeing things behind it. So I was teaching a workshop earlier this week, and a lot of the people were making photos and we were in a pretty confined space. So, like people were picking up the backgrounds that they didn't want to pick up, they weren't kind of framing or cropping in camera, but and they were getting frustrated by that, and I encourage them to understand that. Make make sure that what you want is in the photo, and if you have the opportunity to crop it or use the best piece of that photo, you can take the distractions away by doing that. You could also do it by removing items or doing other things in post production. But really about your framing. You should always give yourself the option to crop, so make the shot you want. Get in tight, filled the frame, make the exact picture that you think you want to make, But then give yourself and out. Make a little bit of a wider shot so that you have the opportunity to crop and move around the frame a little bit and give yourself a little bit of breathing room. This is a really good sort of photographic practice, but in particular because what does it cost us to take that extra shot in digital photography in mobile photography? It doesn't cost us anything, so make the extra shot. Give it an opportunity if you want to make a crop version. And that way you have a lot more to play with understanding and kind of using. The things that are available to you when you're put when you're posting is that I think it's important in every aspect of photography. But you know, particularly in social media, where we're looking at a contact sheet pretty regularly uh, when we go to somebody's feed to have some kind of sense of variety where we have the overhead shot and we have the table level shot and we have the diner's perspective shot. And then we have something that's a little tighter and a little wider. So we get a sense of the push and pull, and your and your feed starts to feel a little bit more cinematic, then static. Now I know that right now the big trend in social media accounts is that every photo looks the same. They all shot from the same angled, all shot in the same crop. A lot of it is in the same color tone, and I find that in the conversations I'm having with people, I'm not the only person that feels frustrated by this because I don't want to shoot that way. I want tohave, a variety off opportunities to make different types of pictures, and I want to show that to my audience in my feed, particularly when you're scrolling through a feed. You know, if you go back to, um, my overall feed and you start to scroll through it from a distance, right, you start to see that I try to present a variety of types of photography. Ah, variety of different angles. Sometimes it's a little tighter. Sometimes it's a little wider. Clearly, I shoot a lot of things from the top, but I know and I know that. So I want to make sure that I occasionally pepper my feed with something different with something new. Not everything is light. Not everything is dark. Not everything is close up. Not everything is far away. So if you have that type of variety, when you looking through a feed, it gives you a sense or you gives the people who are viewing in a sense, particularly people who might hire you, that you are much more versatile. You're not a one trick pony, and that's something you don't want to be. One other aspect of cropping that or leaving enough room for cropping that's really important when it comes to doing this is that if you're not on Lee posting on Instagram, you might want to make pictures that give you the opportunity to use multiple aspect ratios because look, some people are posting vertical in Snapchat or some people are using different features in Facebook, and they're not all the same crop. So if you if you Onley shoot with this square in mind, let's say you're gonna lose the opportunity to post that picture and other formats, so give yourself a little room so that you can make a square out of it. You could make a four by three. You could make a by nine. You have a lot of different opportunities if you give yourself a little room in the crop so that you can use the same picture on multiple platforms. So when we're also talking about sort of the creative aspect of social media, the individual photos and we've kind of focused on that a lot. But I think also the overall presentation off your feed. It can really make a difference. And I guess I want to kind of talk about the successful ones, ones that I think I've caught my eye and I've actually people I don't even know or people that may not even be in my in my genre, I've thought that they were very clever and interesting by the way that they set up their feed. So one in particular is is this young woman? Her name is Anna Lokendra. And, um I can she followed me and I looked at her feed, and I noticed that she does something very interesting with her. With her layout, where she seems to operate in two very distinctive genres, she shoots beauty. Ah, and a lot of and a lot of the people in her feet are women. And then she also shoots food, and she decided that she was gonna lay out her, um, her feed with a quote. Ah, food photo and a photo and beauty off these women in these sort of vertical columns, which is a really clever way of getting somebody's attention when they're looking at this because it kind of feels like I'm looking at a magazine layout that she took exquisite care to set this up this way Now have also we've also seen some of the accounts that kind of use multiple photos to make one photo. That's a pretty cool way To do it as well shows a lot of creativity. And I think that, you know, using that particular idea in mind when I'm not just looking at an individual photo, I'm looking at this group. And I'm looking at this kind of overall view, this kind of 1000 yard view of you as an artist that really makes a big difference. So I'm gonna show you somebody else, somebody I know. Um, he's a photographer named No effects. And I really like his feed because if I hold it out at arm's length and I just scroll through this feed and I have no idea what any of those photos were about, I still get an absolute sense of what he is about as an artist. I get a true sense that looking and scrolling through his feed that there is a distinctive intent in every picture he posts and all of those pictures together make up a whole that shows me what he is is an artist, Um, and and honestly, the other reason I'm really impressed by his work, and I know him personally, and I've always liked him. But he has completely transformed himself as an artist in the in the social space because he decided that traditional looking food photography wasn't really what got him excited, even though he was good at it. And even though he made a good living doing it. He went to this different style with all of this color and personality and and drama that it just obviously reinvented himself in the social space in a way that is very unique. And I think that that's another way to express creativity in this. In looking at this sort of this helicopter view of what we are as artists, and lastly, I want talk about another young woman that I know as a friend who also does something very interesting with her feed. And I want to talk about this one in particular because I think it's important because just because I choose not to incorporate myself in my brand, I don't think that that's a mistake for other people to do if it's the way you want to sell yourself as an artist. Now, Liz Barclay is a photographer and an art director, and she talks in terms of She's a creative. She does a lot of different things, and she likes to put forth her vision of the world as well as the vision of her work and because she but operates in a lot of different platforms in terms off, she shoots fashion, she shoots lifestyle, she shoots food, and she has this very distinctive style. But also her personal brand is her, and you know, the things that she likes to share as faras as far as her sort of interests and the and the way she looks at the world creatively. So I think that when you look at her feed, you see the things that she's done that are sort of signature pieces, like things like this in food, which was hard way of figuring out the things that she really wanted to do in terms of her artistic expression. But also you see that she takes a lot of self portraiture that's really creative. She's a pretty girl, but that's really not the point. The point is the way she lights herself in the way she sort of expresses herself through both her captioning and her photography. And then she does some traditional looking food photography as well, with just really dynamite. So she's kind of a different type of a brand. She's selling something that's a little bit different, but the reality is that it's completely in the line with who she wants to stay, express to our client or potential client off what I bring to the table. I bring all this creativity to the table, and it may not all look the same, but has there's a common thread that goes through it. And I also met with a friend last night who is a social media manager for Ah, a number of brands here in Seattle. And she kind of reconfirmed some of the theories that I'm sharing with you today about the kinds of things that people could be doing in social media. Her name is Delaney Brown, and she's a young woman I met here creative lives, and she also has this sort of interesting combination off personal story and creativity and photography that sort of blends together on also has sort of a food element interwoven into what she does. But it's not exclusively food. So like I said, I don't necessarily think that it's something that is exclusive to the idea that you need to do it the way I do it. You could see that I admire people who have very vastly different styles than what I do vastly different approaches, and there is no right and wrong in terms off how you want to do it. Just do it with intent. Do it Well, work hard at it and I think you're gonna have great success. Lastly, I want to talk about the greatest pet peeve I have as a food photographer. Looking at food photography on social media is the food that tastes delicious, that looks God awful. And people sharing that. Now I get the idea that you want to share the things that that you really enjoy in terms of eating. But eating and photography are two very different things now. Photography can inspire eating, but photography could also be an appetite suppressant. So I would suggest that the things that you're shooting, even though it tastes great if it doesn't meet the standard of something that can make people hungry, then I think maybe you should avoid that. We'll just leave it there. So that's about it for me. I think that, uh, for you, hopefully you take away from today the idea of both the creative and the marketing aspects of social media about how toe sort of process your analytics, about how to think about yourself in terms of what you present to the world and your art and about being really positive and embracing a community and participating in it. So I thank you so much for joining me today, and I know that I'm gonna be looking forward to seeing a lot of you on social media.