Look for the Light: Photography for Social Media

Sheila Masson reveals her top tips for taking eye-catching photos to promote your brand.

“It’s all about light”, Sheila tells us. “Light will do the work for you, so look for the light.” With a background in photographic journalism, Sheila Masson, Marketing Manager at Riddle’s Court in Edinburgh, knows a thing or two about how to capture a great image. Here are her top tips for how to create engaging visual content for your organisation:

Taking Great Photos:

To get inspiration, a good place to start is by searching hashtags on Instagram (e.g. #architecture, #light) and looking at popular images. Pick out the common denominators between the photos and read the comments – do they pick out particular features?

For a top notch feed, it’s vital that you look at your Instagram profile as a whole. Variety is important, but also keep your output aesthetically coherent by using similar colour palettes. Understand your feed as a photo essay, with each image part of a wider narrative telling a great story.

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Photography can be used to raise awareness of your building and the projects going on inside. The best way to do this is to promote the quirky details. Social media content is less about the glossy promotional shots; visitors will likely have already seen those on your website or in a brochure. But folk enjoy gaining an insight into personal spaces, and getting a peek at the mundane or day to day goings on of a place. Think of your photos as an archive of the building which document its history throughout the years and as the seasons change. Take the viewer on a journey through your building. You may also want to look for views from the window, à la National Library of Scotland.

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Also, it’s important to experiment and put your camera through its paces. So much of the images we consume on social media were taken on a smartphone. Even the most basic models can pack a punch, so step out of your photography comfort zone and see what your camera can do. For portraits, make them more interesting and use unusual colour, doorframes etc. For landscapes, think about how one view can look in different weather conditions. Why not try looking in another direction and approach things from a different perspective?

As much as Sheila told us to follow the light, she also said we shouldn’t be afraid of photographing at night. Remember to find alternative perspectives of the same place, at times when regular visitors wouldn’t have access to the building.

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When it comes to framing, look for existing frames in the world around you.  Remember, small sections can have a big impact and will fill the frame this way. One last point, stay away from HDR (High Dynamic Range) and extreme filters, over-processed images are not a good look for your feed.

Through use of social media in our sector we are building a feel for Scottish heritage as a whole. Your organisation/channel is adding to this bigger picture; take a look at what is already out there, how do other organisations present who they are and what they do through photography? Just like in your own feed, the Scottish heritage sector benefits from variety while following a coherent aesthetic. Think about what unique angle you want to take and how that will fit into the wider narrative. Through your images you will start to build up an identity for your organisation.


Featured image credit: IG/@riddlescourt

Sally Pentecost is Communications and Events Officer for Dig It! and holds an MLitt in Mediaeval History from the University of St Andrews.

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