Photography is one of those terrifying things that seem to intimidate a lot of people. Let me be the first to say, I knew nothing about photography at the beginning of this year, and I’m certainly not a pro now. But learning the basics was not nearly as complicated as I thought. And the more I got into it and the more I learned about social media, the more I realized how the two things go together like pie and ice cream. You could have one without the other, but the pie would be so much less exciting.

Big companies have the money to outsource photographers, and that’s great. It provides freelance photographers work and gives them a great source of income. Many smaller businesses, and especially publishers, do not have those kinds of resources. So we have to make do. But how?

You don’t need a fancy camera to start taking pictures. With most phone technology nowadays, you have access to a pretty decent camera right in your pocket. The main challenge—and by challenge, I mean fun part—is setting up the photo. Where do you take it? How do you set it up? This all depends on your business or publishing house but doesn’t take nearly as much effort as you think. Ooligan Press is a very Portland-centric press, so we can walk right outside and take pictures of the bridges, the parks, the rain—and it all fits with our message. Take a book from your press to the coffee shop. Take it home and snap some pictures of it with a plant or favorite blanket. Take it to the bar, on a walk, maybe even a dog shelter. You can take books anywhere.

But the photo can’t just stop there. Not with digital photos, anyway. You need to edit them for branding and consistency.

Branding is important in the sense that it establishes a page’s content with one simple glance. A viewer clicks on the Instagram page and boom, they can get an instant-read of what that business is all about. Half of this is the subject matter—what you take pictures of. The other half is editing the lighting and colors to look consistent.

This is the really scary part for most people, but it’s actually the easiest part.

My favorite app for editing photos on my phone is Lightroom, but this costs money. My favorite free app for photo editing is VSCO. I started out with this app, and it helped me learn so much. The interface is extremely user-friendly. Jump on the app and mess around with the different settings, especially with colors. It takes a few tries, but eventually, you’ll get the hang of moving the sliders around and controlling the lighting and colors on your photo. Higher contrast tends to make for sharper, cleaner images. Warmer images tend to give off happier vibes. Cooler images give off more wintery vibes.

Having clean, authentic images really boost your social media game. They help create a consistent, professional-looking feed. And photography is just a fun thing to jump into.

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