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25 years of photography experience compacted into 5 hot tips for digital media

Impressions matter.

Media today is a crowded space. One of the main goals of your online activity needs to focus on that fleeting moment of initial attraction, on pulling eyes towards a story. Then you might be lucky to hold attention long enough to get a point or three across.

So you must have fabulous imagery. The human brain cannot resist a beautiful, emotion-invoking or quirky image.

It’s particularly true in social media, with platforms like Instagram and Snapchat relying on beautiful photographs that stand out from the rest of the humdrum. In twitter and Facebook too, a quality image with written content will result in higher engagement, more views and more shares.

So we’ve put together a few pointers to help you get there. Brenton Edwards created these tips for a recent event called Storytelling in Science Communication. You’ll see the selected shots have a science focus. But the messages apply equally to any other field.

Plenty more examples of Brenton’s images are published on our Instagram feed: http://www.instagram.com/storieswelltold/

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Tip 1. Take time to think about and plan the image.

What is your goal? Are you showing the work you’ve done or trying to get a message across? What features of your image will ‘talk’ to the viewer and provide an instant indication of what this story is about?

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Tip 2: Composition and lighting is critical

Great and revealing lighting can hugely elevate the impact of your image. That doesn’t always mean having a well-lit face at the centre of the shot. Can you frame the subject?

Would backlight, front light, side light, top light create an unusual aspect? What other elements can you bring in through playing with the light?

 

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Tip 3: Take your science out of the lab.

Science can be scary, out of context and off-putting for people not used to a sciencey environment. So take it out of the lab! Apply your science to things the average person in the street can relate to. Use normal, everyday props and places to allow people to see scale, colour, volume, context and relevance to human life.

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Tip 4. Hold your smartphone or camera horizontally

This is the solution to obtaining a clear, high-resolution image every time. It creates less distortion of the subject, and you can easily zoom in and crop later to adjust to your preferred shape and size. Cropping to a square shape for Instagram is simple within the app itself, or you can now use the rectangle full frame. And remember, never zoom in within the camera app! Take the wide shot, and crop later.

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Tip 5. Be wise with your choice of hashtags

Hashtags will help you find your audiences, and conversely assist your audiences in finding you. Keep tags to unique terms that relate both specifically and indirectly to your image. #science is too broad and won’t have the same impact as say #ghostbat (for this example above).

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