Living in the UK, it’s not very often we get sun. In fact, this Winter has possibly felt like the longest ever, with snow fall throughout March. But last week, it seemed that Spring was finally ready to make an entrance.  

At By This River, we pride ourselves on using our own photography for our social media wherever possible, building up our image library whenever we can. So what better time than Spring to have a clean up of our image library and capitalise on the nice weather to create some fresh new shots of our own.

 © Photo by Katie Clarke (By This River)

© Photo by Katie Clarke (By This River)


Out With The Old and In With The New

It might have been a while since you created your own image library which is why it’s worth spending some time having a tidy. Shots may have become outdated or irrelevant – or maybe you’ve used everything you’ve got? If you’ve changed your house style or had a rebrand then some of your visuals will no longer match.  Go through your collection and see what works and what doesn’t (archive or discard the images you no longer need), make a note of any gaps or retakes you might want to make and use this to help you with the next stage of your Spring clean – planning.

The Planning Stage

Think about what new images you will need and try to be as specific as you can. Do you want to use your photos for Instagram pics, email marketing, or presentations? How you use your photos will determine details such as size of the image, orientation, quality, colours and what is being photographed. It will also determine what sort of camera you might use.

@@When it comes to choosing subjects, spend some time researching ideas and inspiration.@@ For example - I needed to grab some good Spring nature shots for our social media because our brand uses the natural world as a key part of its visual language. First I thought about what sort of things are associated with Spring – flowers, water, trees, animals – and then searched online for images relating to these. I made a collection of my favourites to use as inspiration when creating my own which I organised into a mood board [Pinterest is good for this kind of thing]. From this I came up with a rough shot list.

@@Once you’ve thought about the shots you’d like to get, you need to consider the location.@@ Some shots may be captured around the office or close to home – some you may have to venture further for! Take my example, spring photos of the outdoors. I could start at home by just taking photos of things in my garden, but quickly ran out of things to photograph. Use Google to search for places near you such as country parks or flower gardens (many of which have free entry and free parking!) to take photographs in.

You also need to choose your device. Some of you may not have the flashiest of cameras lying around, but a smartphone camera can be just as good when taking shots for social media. I used my iPhone camera for this shoot and got some great results. @@iPhone cameras have some fantastic features such as the ability to take shots in square format@@, which is perfect for social media, a grid for setting up shots and the ability to set focus and exposure – just to name a few.

You’ve got your brief and everything is all ready, don’t let the weather get in your way! If you are taking outdoor photos like I was, you may specifically want a sunny day, and if you live in the UK like me – it’s not unusual to get four seasons in one day due to the unpredictability of British weather! If it’s outdoors then plan your shoot in advance and keep checking the weather forecast until the perfect day crops up, if you can. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be prepared though for spur of the moment opportunities, especially if taking your own photos is one of your business priorities. Smartphones are so handy in this regard.

The Shoot

@@Preparation is key.@@ Make a list of everything you need for your shoot. You may just simply need yourself and your iPhone, or you may want to take other items with you such as a second camera and props. Check prior to your shoot how much battery your device has and that you have enough storage to take lots of shots, @@you don’t want to miss the perfect photo opportunity because you’ve run out of space on your phone! Also, be prepared for the location by dressing appropriately. Just because it may be sunny outside, doesn’t mean the ground is dry, meaning your super-clean shoes may end up looking like this…!

 © Photo by Katie Clarke (By This River)

© Photo by Katie Clarke (By This River)

@@There is no point taking tens of brilliant photos if they are all close-ups or long shots as you will be limited to their usage.@@ Take many different ones - long shots, mid shots, close-ups, extreme close-ups, portrait shots and landscape shots. The more photos you take, the more choices you have. Review your photos briefly as you go. If a shot doesn’t quite look how you wanted it to, or is completely blurry then there is no point in keeping it! Free up some storage by deleting imperfect photos as you go.

Bear in mind the location conditions too and how they may affect your shots.

As I was shooting outside, key things I thought about were:

·      Where is the sun?

·      How much space is around each subject?

·      What angle is best?

·      Are there shadows ruining the shot?

·      Is the photo blurry?

Reviewing your Results

Like me, you may not be an expert – you may even be a beginner to photography. This is why it is so important to take as many shots as you can, so that you can see what works and what doesn’t – and learn from these mistakes.

Take these two photos – both of flowers. The photo on the left of the red flower has the sun directly on the flower, making it look defined and colourful. The pink flower on the right is mainly covered up by shade, but has a small part of sun glare on the top – losing the quality of the photo and making it unusable.

 © Photo by Katie Clarke (By This River)

© Photo by Katie Clarke (By This River)

 © Photo by Katie Clarke (By This River)

© Photo by Katie Clarke (By This River)

@@Sometimes, a shot may not work as a photo on its own – but it doesn’t mean it is useless.@@ Take this photo of blossom that I took. The picture has nice “Springy” quality, but no real focal point – the eye is not drawn anywhere in particular. This sort of photo works brilliantly for a background image, which is exactly what I’ve done with it. Below you can see the original photo (left) and how I have used it for an Instagram social media post (right).

 © Photo by Katie Clarke (By This River)

© Photo by Katie Clarke (By This River)

 © Photo by Katie Clarke (By This River)

© Photo by Katie Clarke (By This River)

As with everything, you’ll get better with practice. The best thing to do is take as many photos as you can, and look at each one in detail. What is good? What could be better? Look at what other people do and ask the same questions – what is good? What could be better? Then you’ll be on your way to photography success and a fantastic image library.

Follow us on Instagram @ByThisRiverUK to see Katie’s Spring shots in action.

How about you? What shots have you taken recently?