1. CLEAN LENS. Very basic, but extremely important. Clean the lens on your camera or smartphone to avoid dust/dirt spots on photos.
2. NATURAL LIGHT. As much as possible, take your photos in natural daylight and avoid using a flash. Use white poster boards to bounce natural light when needed. If daylight is not a possibility, use a friend's phone's flashlight for extra light (repeat: avoid using a flash).
3. PHOTO EDITING. Even under the best lighting conditions, editing is still necessary. Find a photo editing app that best suits your style. VSCO and AfterLight are recommended (Alex's favourite VSCO filter add-on packs are N1, S1, S2, S3).
4. ZOOM. Zoom in by moving your body closer to the subject you are photographing as opposed to using the camera's zoom function. Zooming lowers the resolution of the image.
5. SYMMETRY. When taking square photos (particularly for Instagram), make use of balanced symmetry for great effect.
6. ANGLES and THE RULE OF THIRDS. Angles work well - keep horizon lines even and use natural features like a shoreline, for example, to make your angle. Use the gridlines on your camera to place your focal point into 1/3rd of the photo.
7. PRODUCT SHOTS. Positioning is key when taking a product shot. Try standing standing, sitting and squatting over and around objects for different viewpoints.
8. EMPTY SPACE. It's hard to make a crowded, messy photo look good. Remember: simplicity is key.
9. CROP. Take your photo in landscape mode (or even portrait) and then crop down to a square photo afterwards to achieve the highest quality photo.
10. STAGING. Recognize the importance of accessories. They can add interest to a photo.
Alex instructs the attentive workshop participants.
Bonus tips! We hung around after the workshop and scored these additional tips from Alex:
- Ensure a good variety of posts on your social media so that the collection is inviting. Alex recommends alternating between pics of yourself, where you are, what you're eating, and what you're working on. My interpretation of this is to include a SLEW of photos on your feed (Selfie, Location, Eat, Work).
- Best backgrounds to use for photos: all white, wood floors, grass, rocks. Really, any background will do as long as it's consistent with your social feed. Alex arranged the items in the following photo (called a "flat lay" shot) - it illustrates how good product looks against a wood floor as backdrop:
- When it comes to Instagram, avoid using too many hashtags, this can actually reduce the likelihood of your photo appearing in the "Discover" area of Search. The ideal number of hashtags to use is five - include 1 hashtag in your main comment, and 4 more hashtags in a secondary comment. Avoid using high-trending hashtags for the reason given above (they can limit your discoverability). The more specific the hashtags are, the better, but don't get overly specific (for example, use hashtags like #springstyle or #mensfashion, but avoid tags like #springstylewatchesandaccessories or #blueandredcollaredshirt.
Stay inspired: follow Alexander Liang on Instagram, his style blog and his online magazine.