How to successfully Instagram your store
9 Jul 2018
East London-based photographer and architect Elke Frotscher has been sharing her beautiful photos on Instagram since 2013. She’s amassed 128k followers and shared nearly 2,000 stylish, beautiful images of her life and travels. Here she explains how to get the basics right and successfully capture the essence of your space, big or small.
1. Be social
Get the basics right and the rest will follow. Aim for a nice balance of beautiful images related to your brand and then some other more sales-orientated posts directing followers to your shop. Instagram is a community first and foremost and it’s very important to engage with people. After putting up a post, I always stay on the app to respond to comments, ‘like’ relevant similar images, ask other users questions and start conversations.
2. Line things up
When shooting interiors, think about the composition first. Look for straight lines, using the architectural frame of the room as a guide, and follow the rule of thirds (it’s easier if you turn on the grid function in your phone’s camera settings). Aligning elements of your subject with these guidelines or placing important things at their intersections helps balance the image, while creating more tension and interest than simply centering the subject.
3. Make small beautiful
If you’re photographing a small space then using a tripod, shooting straight on and avoiding wide-angle lenses can take you a long way. Move things around in the room to improve the composition and give you more space. Perspective is key in small spaces and changing the viewpoint can be to your advantage: shooting straight on but from a low angle will give you a more balanced and pleasing composition.
When shooting with an iPhone in spaces that are really tiny, I often use my headphones as a remote control. The volume buttons on the headphones act as shutter buttons, which means that you can prop your phone right up against the wall, maximising the camera distance from the subject, and take a picture without getting a shaky image.
4. Light it right
Great light is important with iPhone images: in low light they start to become grainy very quickly. I always try to use as much natural light as possible to get the best colour and clarity. When shooting smaller objects or flat lays, I usually position myself near a window and use a piece of white card or a cheap reflector to bounce the light back on to the scene, softening any harsh shadows. Don’t overlight either: if the scene is too evenly lit, the image can look flat and abstract. Some shadows add character and dimension.
5. Take it outside
For exteriors, I always shoot straight on. The way Instagram organises images into grids of small squares makes every wonky line stand out, in a bad way. I mostly shoot facades early in the morning or just before dusk (depending on the orientation of the building) to get softer light and avoid any harsh shadows.
I find that standing dead centre and perfectly parallel to the wall with just enough distance to capture a straight image of the building gives the most Instagrammable results.
Keep an eye on the reflections in the shop window, avoiding any accidental reflection selfies. If you’re taking pictures of your own shop, you have the luxury of playing with the lighting inside. Turn them on for an inviting glow or keep them off to show off the signage on your window.
6. Get appy
I always edit all my pictures before posting them. All my edits are very gentle and just enhance the qualities of the images, making them crisper, straightening the lines and getting the atmosphere closer to how it looked in reality. My favourite apps are VSCO (free to download) for moody images, Lightroom CC (free to download) for soft tones, A Colour Story (free to download) for brights, and PS Express (free to download) for the last tweaks, sharpening and noise reduction for iPhone images.
7. Experiment and improve
Take a lot of pictures, testing different light conditions, perspectives and details until you find what you want. I find it helps to study images of similar spaces and see how the photographer made those work. After putting in this initial effort, it should soon become easier to capture the beauty and style of your shop.
Elke is available for coaching and mentoring sessions for mobile photography and Instagram strategy development. Find her on Instagram as @elice_f and on elkefrotscher.com.