A few years ago I realized I needed to create more of a personalized feel in my marketing and social media. I was the stereotypical introverted designer: comfortable behind the computer, in my own space (far, far away from any evidence of humanity), with limited interactions with the outside world. My IG strategy was non-existent, and the idea of snapping photos of myself in my “natural element” seemed vain and completely self-indulgent.
And then, one random Wednesday back in 2018, a business coach asked me a question that changed the trajectory of my outlook forever: “Melanie, would you rather sit in your insecurities or be successful? Which one is more important to you?”
I mean, what a whopper of a question, right? After I picked my jaw up off the floor (the nerve! Didn’t he know I wasn’t insecure – I was just very comfortable never showing my face to anyone anywhere?!) I realized that I had to start embracing the uncomfortable things. And taking brand photos was step number one.
Now I know there are tons of amazing photographers out and I could have called upon any of them, but I was all about baby steps. It was hard enough trying to wrap my mind around taking these “staged” photos without the added pressure of a stranger telling me to “suck in my gut.”After a lot of trial and error, I landed in a place where my quarterly brand shoots are actually super enjoyable. I get my partner Lydell to act as “photographer” and we just use an iPhone to capture moments. (We used a DSLR camera we bought on Kijiji in the past, but the iPhone works just as well if not better.)
I get people hopping into my DMs all the time asking where I got my photos taken, and they are floored when I tell them Lydell took them…with a phone! (Not gonna lie, it’s always fun to relay that info!) So if for whatever reason you’re not quite ready to hire a photographer to snap some candid shots of you for the ‘gram, then, my friend, I am here with something awesome: I’m about to share the five things we do over at Fourth Street Creative to capture my brand photos for the ‘gram.
ONE | NATURAL LIGHT
Natural light is uber flattering and that’s great news because you don’t have to waste time trying to set up the perfect studio level effect to create the perfect lighting. Stand in front of a window, head outside (cloudy days are best and reduce the harsh shadows), or snap photos in a room that’s flooded with light. I like to head outdoors and use nature as my backdrop. If you’ve got hobbies that involve being outside, snap a few pics of you in your natural element. You’ll look fabulous, and sharing hobbies is a great way to connect with your audience, by the way.
TWO | PORTRAIT MODE
Set your iPhone to portrait mode, and your photos will instantly look more professional. Portrait mode gives you that blurred background effect that was once reserved for professional cameras. Take some close ups in this mode to really keep the focus on your beautiful face!
THREE | USE YOUR BRAND COLOURS
Once you have your brand colours nailed down, incorporate them into your brand photos – every. single. Time. – even if it’s just your nail polish or lip colour. This is my sneaky little trick to always having a polished grid. Finding ways to incorporate your brand colours means you don’t have to worry about inconsistency on your feed. Remember: Having a feed that looks polished is a great way to communicate to potential clients that you’ve got style (to spare), my friend, and will use that savvy skill to sell their home.
FOUR | SELF-TIMER
Not quite ready to have anyone snap shots of you? Don’t worry, boo, all you need to do is get comfortable with the self-timer on your phone. Prop your phone up on books or grab an inexpensive tripod from Amazon and start experimenting with angles and poses – all in the comfort of your own personal and private brand shoot (aka your home). You might have to play around a little to get the shots just right, but this is the perfect option for you if you’re camera shy or if you want to find the most flattering poses and angles before heading into the studio.
FIVE | PLAN AHEAD
Don’t skip this step. I repeat: DON’T SKIP THIS STEP. It can be oh-so-tempting to just grab your phone and start snapping pics but without intention behind your photos, your posts will be random shots of you that don’t tell a clear story. You want photos that show you in your element and help create connection with your audience (You might think that selfie in the supermarket is super cute, but your audience might be confused…). I love to organize all of my shots in advance. I create mood boards on Pinterest filled with inspiring poses, I make a list of outfit changes (season appropriate), and consider fun posts like national/social days that I’ll want to participate in. (National Picnic Day was a fun one to shoot!) Make sure you incorporate the more personal brand content you feel comfortable sharing, like family snaps, hobbies, or behind the scenes of your business. Planning like this allows you to create intention behind your content so you have an arsenal of Insta-ready snaps at your disposal for months!
Want some insight into your Insta style before heading out to snap some shots? Take the quiz here.