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Ten photo tips for food and farm

February 5, 2019

We all take lots of photos with our phone on a daily basis but the following will help you both have great pictures to share in the moment and end up with a photo library you can keep coming back to:

1. When shooting always make sure the sun is behind you. (Unless of course, you are shooting a gorgeous sunset. If so, have at it!)

  • A corollary to this - pay attention to where your shadow falls. Do you want an outline of a person holding a camera in your picture? Maybe, if you’re being artistic. You don’t necessarily have to do a contortionist act to avoid any shadow in the frame, just make sure it falls in a place that you can crop out later.  

2. Vary your shot composition and orientation. For example:

  • Take each shot in both landscape and portrait orientation

  • Take shots with blank space in different parts of the picture - classic example is a little field with a whole lot of sky, or a little sky with a whole lot of field. If you want to use a picture as a backdrop for something with text, you’ll be happy for that space.

  • Take a zoomed-out version of each shot, if you have to crop it for social media dimensions this gives you margins to play with.

  • If there’s a way to do a good aerial shot of the thing you’re capturing (tall people, sturdy chairs. . .) grab it.  

3. If you end up taking some video be sure to shoot horizontally and for at least 10 seconds.  This gives more flexibility in how the video is presented. While Instagram uses a portrait orientation, FB is better with a landscape view.  If you are interested in learning more about video for social media, check out our “Intro to social video webinar with Tara Pereira, recorded in March 2018.

4. Don't be afraid to be creative and have fun.  Why not take a selfie with a baby goat? You want to get a varied library of images to be able to use in your marketing. You never know when that goat selfie will come in handy.

5. We all love epic field and barn shots, but consider getting the details of an event. A child's hand petting a calf. . . table settings. . .your attractive VFN Partner Member sign. . . these details give a complete view of the experience.

6. When taking candid pictures of people, “click” multiple times in a row (or find an app that does that for you) - about 1 out of every 10 will have someone with their eyes actually open and not making a weird face (if you’re lucky).

7. Don’t forget to take photos that have the natural world, the human-made world, and also a combination of the two. Combinations may take some posing, but it’s the simplest photo “styling” available. Classic examples are a finished dish with the ingredients also displayed (apple pie + apples), a drawing plus the subject (watercolor flowers + the actual flowers), a garden plus its tools, farm equipment in the field. This gives you three ways to tell each story: pies, apples, apples + pies . . . and so on.

8. Take seasonal shots and season-neutral shots. If there’s a way to get an angle in your picture where it’s not obvious what the weather is, do it (besides the version that shows lots of flowers and lush grass, or an untouched snow covered field). You’ll be pleased to have the seasonless options sometime around April when you’re searching for an image that doesn’t involve deep mud and bare branches.

9. Make friends with photo editing tools. Some social media platforms, like Instagram, let you edit pictures with their tools before you post them. There are also separate apps for your phone, online tools for your computer, software, free tools, paid tools - take some time to find one that’s right for you (before there’s a deadline to get photos together!). And don’t be afraid to play with each image to discover your own style  - push contrast to extremes, saturation to extremes, crop in all sorts of different ways . . . nothing is set in stone, it’s digital (do keep a backup copy of the original, just in case). On that same note, don't feel like you need to use a filter or a heavy contrasted image.  It is really all about your style.

10. Label pictures in ways that make sense! What that way is depends on how you search for things. But if you’re looking for pictures and the titles are random strings of numbers from the phone, or “Farm 1” and “Farm 2”, it will take an hour to find one picture. Also be sure to label different versions of the same shot, some may be cropped, different resolutions (for file size), black and white vs. in color, etc.  This also should be considered when you are naming folders or directories of images. (Ex. Open Farm Week 2019 or Summer market images 2019). 

This tips are for all us amateurs. If you want to learn more about working with a professional photographer, check out our webinar with Brent Harrewyn, recorded in June of 2018.  

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