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5 DIY Tips for Social Media Photography on a Budget

Creating social media content during a crisis is essential. Start with photography as your foundation using these cost effective DIY tips to create engaging social media images.

Nothing lasts forever. Even in the midst of a crisis like COVID-19, light at the end of the tunnel must be found when it comes to content marketing strategy and business growth. Companies have had to adapt how they communicate with the world and their new digital communities in order to provide critical information to employees and customers while preparing for the months ahead.

This doesn’t change the fact that content marketing right now is more difficult and looks different, including the content that’s going out on the main platform of communication between brands and their audiences — social media. Creating social media content that answers questions about the impact the crisis is having on your products and services is essential. But times of crisis impact budgets too, leaving marketers fewer content creation options or to try and tackle it themselves in a DIY fashion.

Sound familiar?

Here are some DIY tips for creating engaging, cost effective social media images.

Tip #1 - Get creative with lighting

The best photographs start with great lighting. Today, achieving an authentic look is key for presenting your brand as authentic, and can be captured with natural lighting.

  • First, take a 5-minute lesson on the components of exposure from Canon, so you understand how to adjust camera settings appropriately to maximize the lighting you have available. Don’t have a DSLR? Your smartphone has setting options as well.

  • Take a look at your surroundings. If you’re outside, what time of day is it and where is the sun? Aim to shoot during the twilight hour between 5 p.m. and 8 p.m. so the light is softest and the most flattering. If you’re stuck shooting mid-day, look for shaded areas or incorporate a shade to reduce overly bright, harsh reflections from the sun.

  • If indoors, utilize a “bounce” — or an object that will reflect light off of a wall or ceiling to soften the light before it hits the subject. You can use household items such as a white cardboard square to brighten small dark areas. Taking advantage of the lights in your home is an option too, but consider diffusion to soften the light. B&H Photo suggests cutting a few squares of paper towel and taping them to an old picture frame as an option. Voila! DIY magic at work.

Tip #2 - Shoot multiple angles

When it comes to maximizing your DIY photoshoot, movement should be top of mind. Think: Shoot, turn your body, shoot, change your camera angle, shoot, etc. Even the smallest of movements can add uniqueness and will provide you with a backlog of images to choose from for upcoming social media content calendars.

Tip #3 - Utilize resources that you already have

Quintessential photoshoot items such as location, talent, gear and props tend to become nonessential items when on a budget or in a crisis. The solution? Take a look around your own space and see how you can repurpose items for your social photography.

Incorporating scene-specific objects will add a layer of storytelling, professionalism and depth. Shooting tabletop food or still life? Repurpose some of your dinnerware or inherited glassware into the frame or move the tabletop setting into different rooms. If the locations you have available do not align with your brand, try experimenting with a shallow depth of field to blur out more of the background. This brings us to our next tip.

Tip #4 - Don’t have all of the resources you need? Purchase inexpensive props

So the content you need to shoot for social doesn’t particularly align with your own personal taste and the resources you have available. That’s ok. Stores like Dollar Tree, Home Goods, TJ Maxx, Big Lots or Target have a lot of affordable props that you can swap in and out of frames for a variety of images. Even with props, revisit Tips 1-3 to ensure your maximizing your costs.

Tip #5 - Use your iPhone or Samsung Galaxy’s portrait mode and free editing apps

Professional photography gear is always preferred, but if it’s unavailable or you don’t have the specific training for how to use it, turn to your smartphone. Today’s iPhone and Samsung Galaxy models have a relatively decent portrait mode that will cover basic photography needs after following the first four steps. Free editing apps like Snapseed, VSCO and Afterlight 2 offer a wide range of editing tools as well as artistic options for a polished, final look.

Now, more than ever, there is a new language for advertising. Both your written word and photography need to resonate with the current time, and you have the tools at hand (and in home) to make them work together to best reach your audience.

Still have questions about photography for social media content? We’re here to help you with FREE consultations to figure out how best to pivot your social media and content marketing strategy in our current climate. Give us a call at 323.596.0606 or email us at


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