When taking photos for websites, there used to be just one thing to think about: how that one photo looked (and let’s be honest, no one really paid attention to that until a couple years ago). But now that all content gets pushed to each social media platform we’re on, we have to think about how photos will look there too. It would be way too easy for each social channel to, you know, have the same photo style (I guess that’s not quite as fun), so we now need to consider different dimensions and looks for our blog, Pinterest pages, Instagram, facebook, twitter, and on and on. If you’re just starting to market your biz on social media or photography just isn’t your thing, it’s overwhelming. Actually, it’s overwhelming for anyone. Keep this guide in your back pocket (and by that I mean Pinterest) so next time you want to take a photo for the digital world to see, you don’t end up doing way more work than necessary to get it right on each platform.

Okay, first up, is just picking a subject. The subject is the whole reason for breaking the camera out. Just focus on the one. We thought we’d use this hair spray as an example. VERB has super cool product packaging so why not?

How to Style Photos for Social Media | funkdigitalmedia.com

Sometimes the minimal thing works (in fact, it’s a huge trend right now), but most of the time, even minimal needs a little extra. If you just photograph the main subject, AKA the item you’re selling, you run the risk of it coming off as just that: a product shot. That’s great for your ecommerce page, but when sharing it on a blog or social media, people (and ultimately customers) don’t care about product shots. They want to see movement, style, substance. One way to achieve that is with accents. Add a few other things to the frame. Styling is one of those things that looks easy but is quite tricky, so just start off by grabbing anything you think will look good. It doesn’t have to be directly related. I used haircare products here for ease but this bottle could look fantastic with flowers or fashion. Right now just form a vision. I added accessories and another product. It didn’t take away from the teal bottle; it actually helped bring it out.

How to Style Photos for Social Media | funkdigitalmedia.com

At this point the photo isn’t composed well. It doesn’t draw the eye to the spray, the white space isn’t balanced, and it looks cluttered. Working with multiple subjects (especially in a flatlay) can look great, but there needs to be purpose. Right now it’s just a cluster of hair-related items. This is where you play around. Mess with the positioning of things. Add more accents. Take away items. Often what I end up with is totally different than what I started with, it evolves. In the end, I decided to do two things: 1) Take items out of the frame–they were distracting and VERB’s packaging lends itself to simplicity, and 2) compose vertically. Not only will a vertical photo perform better on a blog (and make for better pinning), but in this case, the product just looks better here. In the end, here’s what I want to put in my blog post:

How to Style Photos for Social Media | funkdigitalmedia.com

Yes, I ditched the hairbrush. Yes, I changed the positioning. But I got where I wanted.

how to style and crop images for social media

Once you’ve perfected the shot that goes with website content, it’s time to think social media. Tweets perform best with horizontal images, while Instagram obviously requires square. It’s not a requirement to have square images for Facebook though they do make the page look cleaner and more aesthetically pleasing. As for Pinterest, the longer the better. If you keep the guide below in mind while shooting, it will save so. much. time. Really, you’ll never have to awkwardly crop a photo that just wasn’t meant to be horizontal because you made sure to shoot one day of.

Social Media Image Sizes & Dimensions | Funk Digital Media

It seems complicated, but if you shoot it all at once and take time to play with the style, you’ll end up with photos that are optimized for impact on all channels. And no more recreating a scene just to post about it on Instagram. The dream!