Teach Yourself Photography to Perk up Your Social Media
“What are you trying to say?”
This was my grandpa’s favorite question. I showed him my photos in the hope that he — a pro photographer — would give me some tips on light and composition.
He insisted that if you don’t know what you’re trying to say, light and composition don’t matter. You need to get the story right, first.
I don’t know what he would think if he saw the state of photography nowadays when everyone is taking — and sharing — photos of everything, and just a few people seem to know what they are trying to say.
Then again, I don’t think the Internet killed photography. If you do have something to say, it’s easier than ever to learn from others how to say it through photography. And thanks to social media, it’s also super easy to share your stories with others and connect with them this way.
In this post, I’m sharing 6 hand-picked, tried-and-tested (by myself) Skillshare classes that will help you become a better photographer even if you don’t know much about photography and don’t have a DSLR.
The only thing you need is knowing what you are trying to say.
Note: This is for you even if you have a photographer who takes professional photos for you. I believe that as an online teacher, coach, and/or community host you should be sharing your art in some (visual) form because that’s how you connect with people on a personal level. Even if — or especially if — what you create is not perfect.
All links to Skillshare in this article are my referral links and will give you 2 months of Skillshare Premium for free if you aren’t a member yet. You can cancel anytime during the first 2 months or continue with the paid membership afterward.
Smartphone photography basics
The most common excuse for not taking your own photos is: But I don’t have a good camera.
Well, if you have a smartphone, then you can’t be using this excuse anymore. Nowadays, all smartphones have cameras that are better than many real cameras.
I’ve chosen classes that work for almost any type of camera — no matter if you have an iPhone, Android phone, or DSLR. But because this article is for non-photographers, we’ll get started with smartphone photography basics.
iPhone Photography: How to Take Pro Photos On Your iPhone (any smartphone will do)
This class by Dale McManus is one of the most popular photography classes on Skillshare, and for a good reason. In just an hour, you’ll learn all the basics of (smartphone) photography — and you’ll want to try it all right away.
The class is designed for iPhone users, but many of the lessons will apply to anyone with any (smartphone or not) camera because they deal with topics such as perspective, composition, or storytelling.
Take better selfies
I’m a huge fan of selfies. I believe that self-portraits are one of the best ways to showcase your personality and humanize your social media.
Now, a selfie doesn’t have to be a photo of your (duck) face while holding a camera at arm’s length. You can get more creative here. These two classes show you how.
In this class, Dale McManus teaches how to take stunning self-portraits with your phone, including a lesson on posing and many extra tips on phone camera setting, editing, and working around doing everything by yourself with no help and no fancy equipment (who would think you can use your shoe instead of a tripod!).
If the idea of taking a selfie scares you, then you should try this class by Lindsay Crandall. Inside, you’ll find three assignments on faceless selfies. The goal is to learn how to tell a story without relying on facial expressions.
You’ll be encouraged to capture your everyday moments using body language, mundane things (such as your coffee mug), and details. Through the assignments, you’ll learn how to use light, shadows, and color to express the atmosphere and make your photos more effective.
Take better product photos (books, worksheets, and similar)
Mockups and professional photos are great for sales pages and marketing materials, but on social media, you may want to show more authentic images of your work — that’s why it’s a good idea to learn a little bit about how to take photos of your products.
These two classes will help you — and because both are by Tabitha Park, they’re a lot of fun, too.
I know you don’t sell donuts, but in this class, donuts are used as models when learning flat lay photography (models that you can eat afterward). Flat lay is a type of still life photo when the objects are arranged on a flat surface and photographed from above.
In this class, Tabitha teaches beginner-friendly tricks and tips on composition, lighting, styling, and editing that you can use when taking photos of your products.
And if you are thinking, “but my flat is a mess and there’s such a terrible light,” then you should know that the class deals with these excuses, too. Plus, there is one more class that solves all of these issues.
In this class, you’ll learn how to create a small, portable photography studio space using a cardbox, tracing paper, desk lamps, and a few things that you can buy in any stationery shop.
The DIY photography lightbox will then allow you to take clean and well-lit product photos anytime and anywhere.
Storytelling through photography
There are many ways you can tell stories through photography: You can use a single photo, incorporate text, create a series of photos, and more. Here, I’d like to recommend just one short and sweet class on creating a photo series.
In this 25-minute class, Dan Rubin shows how to turn an experience (may be something as simple as a coffee with a friend) into a photo story. You can use the same idea on your social media (e.g. Instagram stories) and share a photo story about how your product was created, or a “day in the life” story, or anything else you can think of that has a plot of sorts — no matter how simple.
Your next steps
Learning a new creative skill is one of the most rewarding and fun things you can do. And in case of photography, learning how to do it better goes a long way: not only will you be able to stand out on social media, but you’ll also start seeing things a little differently.
You don’t have to become an award-winning photographer; even if you just invest an hour a month in watching the lessons and trying a few of the tips, you’ll get better.
And after seeing the results, you’ll want to continue learning.
So, my suggestion is to simply choose one or two short photography classes (I’ve done the hard work of sorting through all the resources for you) and make time for learning and practicing this week.
And don’t forget to let me know how it went!
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