Photography for Authors

After my last post about social media for authors, I got some questions about how authors can create nice photos for their social media. Now, I'm not a professional photographer -- just a gal who likes to muck around with a camera and props every so often -- but I have picked up a few tips and tricks that can help you up your author aesthetic game.

For some tips specific to Instagram, check out this post I wrote back in June.

All pics are mine from my Instagram account unless otherwise noted.

1. You don't need a fancy camera

Unless you're planning to blow up your photos and print them on a canvas, you really don't need a DSLR camera to take great pictures. If you're just going to be posting your pictures on social media, your phone camera will probably be just fine.

2. Use natural light!

You don't need a fancy lighting rig to make your photos look great -- the best lighting is good ol' sunlight. Try to set up your pictures next to a large window during the daytime, or even outside if you prefer. This cuts down on awkward glare and makes your pictures much easier to edit.

3. Be aware of photo composition

"Photo composition" sounds like a scary professional-photographer term, but there are a couple of fundamentals that anyone can put into practice right away. First, diagonals tend to be more eye-catching than straight lines. For example, here's one of my older photos where I didn't make use of diagonals compared to a newer one where I did. Which one looks more visually interesting?

You may also have heard of the Rule of Thirds, which states that you should put your photo's points of interest one-third of the way across the frame. This helps make your photos visually more interesting with minimal extra work. Turning on the Grid feature on your phone camera helps a lot with this.

This isn't my photo -- it's a public-domain image from Pixabay -- but notice
how the point of interest (the coffee cup) is 1/3 of the way across the image.

4. Use filters wisely

A few touch-ups can really make a photo pop, but the wrong filter can make it look washed-out and amateurish. Depending on the effect you're shooting for, I would advise staying away from pre-made filters on most photo editing apps. For my photos, I only tend to increase the contrast, up the saturation a little, and maybe turn the brightness up a notch. All of those settings can be found on your iPhone, so you don't even need a third-party app to edit your pictures.

Before vs after increasing the contrast and saturation a little bit. It doesn't take much!

5. But Ellie, what do I take pictures of???

Obviously, I take pictures of book flatlays for my Instagram account, but there are plenty of other things you can photograph for your social media! You could capture some tea and biscuits next to your laptop. You could photograph your pet curled up on the couch with a book placed in front of them. You could take a picture of someone reading outside on a bench. It all depends on what best fits the vibe of your social media account.

Do you have any other photography tips or ideas for author social media? Share in the comments!

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