Top Tips on Taking Photos for Social Media

May 11, 2023

How to take photos for social media

If you’re getting your business on social media, it’s almost certain that you’re going to have to take a few photos at some point.

We all love a good graphic from time to time, and sometimes they are the most effective way to get information across. But what your followers really want to see, are photos of you, your products, services, and all that goes on behind the scenes in your business.

So, how do you take ‘good’ photos for social media?

Photographic posts perform better than graphics 9 times out of 10 – especially on visual platforms such as Instagram. But we also see a lot of, frankly, bad photos on social media which could be ten times more effective and engaging had the photographer followed a few rules of thumb.

Read on for our top tips on taking great photos for your social media!


1. THINK before you capture


When taking photos for social media, there is plenty to consider.  Before you even take your photo, first take a moment to think about why you are taking that photo, and where it will be used. Here are a few questions you should ask yourself before whipping out your smartphone:

  • What platform will you be posting your photo on?
  • What size/shape does it need to be?
  • Will you be overlaying text over it?

All of these things may affect how you set up and take that photo.


2. Size matters


Now you’ve decided where your photo will be going, it’s important to think about the dimensions of posts on that/those platforms.

Each social media platform has different rules and recommendations on the size and shape of your posts. When capturing photos for social media, it’s important to think about where you will be posting it to, so you can ensure all the important elements fit within the frame.

Here are the recommended post dimensions for some popular social media platforms:

Instagram post dimensions: Square outline with dimensions 1080 x 1080 written inside. Facebook Feed post dimensions: Rectangular outline with dimensions 940 x 788 written inside. Instagram story/reels dimensions: Rectangular outline with dimensions 1080 x 1920 written inside.

Take a look at the following example.  This photo would work well on both the Facebook and Instagram feed… but not so well on stories!


If you’re posting across multiple social media platforms and are unsure which size you need, we would generally recommend sticking to a square as it works pretty well on all platforms. If you’re posting to Instagram and Facebook stories however, remember to think portrait!


3. People LOVE people!


Okay, I know we bang on about this a lot, but for stellar social media content that captivates and engages your audience, it’s a good idea to include people in your posts.

And before you go looking for loopholes, we’re not talking about cheesy, over-smiley stock image robots – we’re talking about YOU, and the actual real-life people in your business.

We understand that this is a tricky one for a lot of businesses, as many business-owners tend to shy away from the camera, and avoid posting photos of themselves at all costs. Unfortunately, all this creates is a faceless brand that people struggle to relate to and connect with.

We’re not saying you need to be in every single post, but if you have the option of including a person in your post or not, we would always recommend including a person!

On a recent lunch-time visit to Rarebites (Artisan Grilled Cheese Shop in Honley, conveniently located just a stone’s throw away from the Social Progress office), we captured two photos of the occasion. Any guess at which one performed best on social media?

Grilled cheese

4. The ghost of people


If you are unable to get people in your shot (bad hair day much?), then a good strategy is to set up a shot that still has the ‘essence’ of people in it.

Ikea are particularly good at this, so their Instagram is a great place to go for inspiration! Their photos are carefully set up so that even if a person isn’t in the frame, it feels like they have just left the scene or are somewhere nearby.

Take a look at the following photos from their Instagram account:


In photo 1, the barbecue is lit, the pan is full of food ready to go on, and you can completely believe that someone has literally just placed the pan down and stepped away. You can immediately put yourself in that scene and visualise yourself there. This is a very powerful way of convincing someone they need your product.

In the second photo, the simple addition of a hand holding the watering can, elevates this image from a basic product shot, to a lifestyle photo. This comes across as less in-your-face-salesy, and focuses more on inspiring the viewer. They can immediately picture themselves in that scene, and they are inspired to buy the product rather than told to.

Next time you are taking pictures of your product, try including a hand holding it, or placing it in a real-life setting as if someone was using it in their home.


5. Switch it up!


Experimenting is key, and like everything, your photography skills will only get better with practice! To take great photos for social media, don’t just snap one and think that’ll do. Instead, take a few shots from different angles, or tweak the composition slightly.

Here are a few tips and angles to try when you just can’t seem to get that photo looking right:


  • Go up high: Raise your phone/camera to take the photo from a higher angle. This one works especially well for people photos (there is a reason people take selfies from above!)


  • Take it down low: You know when you see photographers squatting on the floor, or even lying down in obscure positions? They’re finding the angle that’s just right! This is a good tactic if you have a big building or something in the background that you want to capture in full.


  • Take a step back: We see so many people taking photos of their products from super close up! Though this can be an effective way to capture detail, it tends to be safer to move your phone camera a bit further away and leave yourself some more room. Remember, you can always crop the photo down later, but it’s much more difficult to zoom it out once you’ve taken it!


  • Flip it: Something still not sitting right? Try turning your phone upside down to take the photo. Just trust us on this one! This works particularly well when taking a photo of something on the floor or at desk height, as your camera lens is just that bit closer and more in line with the subject.


We hope you enjoyed our top tips on taking photos for social media! Please do let us know if you’ve found these tips useful, or if you have any top tips of your own – we’d love to hear from you!

Take your time, think before you shoot, try new angles, and have fun!