Video Direction: I'm going to show 4 examples of how you can intentionally and creatively style a photo that connects with your audience on social media.


The goal of your photos for social should be to connect. You want your photo to tell a story, that the viewer takes right in. And just like a story you read or tell needs to describe certain elements in order to make sense, a visual story needs those elements to be present too.

So, here are the 5 components of a great visual story:

1. A Plot: What's happening in the photo... what's the point of the story your photo is telling?

2. A Hero: Just like in a storybook, your photo should have a protagonist - a main character.

3. A Genre: Just like in writing, the style of your photo will immediately set your audience's exception about what kind of story they're being told. All the elements that go into the picture, including the editing and filters you put on it afterward, contribute to that photo's mood and the feeling your followers will get from it. If you're posting to Instagram on behalf of a brand - whether it's for a business you own, a business you work for, or for your own personal brand - it's crucial to be clear about that brand's core values. So, if you could put a dozen of your ideal followers or customers in a focus group behind a pane of that two way glass, and could ask them to choose three words to describe your brand, what words do you hope they would choose? Those words should inform how you tell your visual story. 

4. A Setting: What's the background or context of your photo?

5. Supporting Characters: What other props are going to interact with your hero in order to develop your story line? 


Now that we have the theory laid out, lets get into the examples of how you might use these elements to create connective images for your own branded Instagram feed. 

Example 1: A Recipe Post

https://www.joyoushealth.com/19218-blog-pumpkin-chocolate-chip-muffins - Joyous health has 80.7k followers... more likely to get share somewhere else. Can also tag other brands - like pumpkin can, and other feeds that feature healthy recipes. 

 

You might post a delicious batch of muffins to Instagram if you're a food blogger, or a wellness blogger, or a mummy blogger, or if you have an online store that sells lovely mixing bowls, or if you own a meal delivery service. Or, maybe you just want to show the world that you love muffins and delight your public with well composed, beautifully lit pictures.   

For our purposes, I'm going to take a photo of these muffins that I made to show my followers a little behind-the-scenes in the life of a solopreneur. For my social, this content is designed to connect on a human level, to give extra value in the form of a great recipe, and also to demonstrate how the photography skills I teach, and the photography props I sell can be used to craft a great picture.  

The Plot: Saturday morning muffin time

The Hero: Muffins. I've used the recipe from a blogger I really love, and I'm taking photos that I can tag her in to hopefully get a regram.

Genre: Realistic and polished with mainly white, black, and tan tones. This is something I'm consistent with across all my photos, because I want my audience to recognise my branded style. 

Setting: This is a lifestyle shot, so the setting is going to be my kitchen. Luckily, my kitchen fits my brand colours. If yours doesn't, you could try this DIY tutorial to create a set of your own. 

Supporting Character: I'm going to choose props from my range, and also things from around my home because I want to show people how to get to most out of their prop boxes. I'm also going to include my hands in the shot so it feels like I'm directly present in the image. 

 

Example 2:  A lifestyle product photo

Rings + props from my business on a set.

The Plot: A snap of a creative woman's dressing table

The Hero: Rings in a dish

Genre: I'm hoping that the jewellery seller I'm featuring in this photo - Blue Boho - will share this image on their instagram too. So I've had a look at their feed and noticed that... I'm going to try to take a photo that will look at home on both their grid and my own.

Setting: I'm making a little set in my studio to mimic a dressing table. 

Supporting Characters: Framed print, candle, 

 

Example 3: Promoting a service

Photography tutorials. I'm going to shoot a photo of the lens I use - a tool of my trade - and create a little scene around it using some props from my business. 

The Plot: This is the story of taking better photos on a budget

The Hero: My favourite lens

Genre: My brand

Setting: My studio

Supporting Characters: Other camera equipment, plus some background props I use to create my images

 

Example 4: Connecting directly with your audience

A big part of my business model is establishing myself as an expert with credibility - if my audience doesn't think I have good taste, excellent curatorial skills, and know what I'm talking about when it comes to taking a decent photo, the whole venture fails. So given that reality, I think it's pretty important to show up on my social feeds. After all, people want to connect with other people, and there're some pretty compelling stats that photos with faces or other human features like hands get more likes and actually convert better. 

The Plot: This is me behind the scenes

The Hero: me!

Genre: My brand

Setting: Working in my studio, photographing. I want a photo of me at work, so I set up my vlogging camera to capture the scene of me taking pics for my website

Supporting Characters: I like to make sure the photo is well framed, and to use focus and layers in an interesting way. I like to include greenery, so I move these plants into the frame, and make sure any clutter is take away. Then I shoot myself, also making the the products are visible, so I can tag them on my shapable instagram feed later on.