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Ditch That Smartphone: Improve Your Social Media Image(s)

February 27, 2017

Jennifer Wu @xjenn3

A current is a flow of water, never stagnant and always heading somewhere; to stay current, is to do just that. But akin to the ocean’s inconsistent temperament, the struggle to stay afloat in our ever-so-visual social media and to stay relevant through exponentially improved communication of information is very real, and in order to stay above the water, quality in photos and content must also rise. Simple smartphone images just won’t cut it anymore, as a new category of entrepreneurs labeled “influencers” have been pushing their content above and beyond to be a cut above the rest.

However, with images now taken on a quality DSLR comes the issue of transferring those photos to your phone in a timely manner, so that you’re not posting Christmas photos in February. Nobody wants to see you chug an entire bottle of egg nog…actually, I would pay good money to see that.

Camera and phone companies have been taking note of this demand as we now see phones with attachable lenses, DSLRs with Wi-Fi® capabilities, Wi-Fi cards, and smartphones with advances in their camera sensors—there goes my photography career out the window, now that everyone has discovered the magical, creamy world of bokeh.

Sending images immediately via Wi-Fi — always the best option?

A method that some influencers adopt is to shoot with a DSLR and a Wi-Fi card or Wi-Fi-capable camera that directly uploads images from camera to phone. This way, they get their images instantly and on the go. However, shooting this way might not actually bring about optimal results. From a professional standpoint, it is best to always shoot RAW image files vs. JPEG, so more information is preserved for editing purposes. You can get away with shooting JPEG if the lighting situation matches your branding image, but if you want consistency and flexibility in post production, RAW images are the way to go.

Unfortunately, RAW files are pretty large and are not suitable for the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth capabilities of recent DSLR models — a 20 million pixel RAW image can easily be 25MB or larger in file size. Even if it were possible to transfer RAW files to your phone, the downloading speed would be heavily compromised and your phone might not even be able to accommodate that much data. Especially in this day and age, people are very trigger-happy and end up taking a million photos of the same exact thing without considering that they probably don’t need 10,000 photos of their cat. They only need like 9,000, right? RAW files take up a good chunk of storage, and it wouldn’t make sense to try and fit all that onto a mobile device.

Step One:  Take advantage of DSLR image quality

So that brings up the challenge:  using your DSLR for top-quality images, and how to efficiently upload them to social media sites and elsewhere. To start off, you’ll probably need a decent DSLR and lens. Many people don’t realize that the lenses you choose for your body also affect the quality of your photos. Make sure you get a pretty good lens on you, so your photos look crisp and sharp! My go-to setup is my Canon EOS 5D Mark III with a EF 24-70mm L-series lens.

Once you have your equipment on hand, it’s time to go out there and shoot some content. As you are shooting, remember to stay pretty consistent in lighting and your settings. This is a huge time-saver because then you won’t have to tweak too many notches when editing. I usually shoot in Manual mode. Make sure you change your white balance to properly match the lighting, and keep an eye on your metering. Some of these terms might sound daunting, but ideally, you want to have your photos in-camera to be as close as possible to what your aesthetic and branding is. A great way to keep consistency is to watch out for time of day and the types of light affecting your photo. For example, if you prefer images to be cooler in tone, try to avoid indoor lighting, direct sunlight, and golden hour. Following these simple steps will make the editing process a breeze. This step is probably the most challenging part, but with time, it will become second nature and easy to discern which lighting will work for you. Just remember to always shoot with your vision in mind.

Send out only your best work!

The next step is to rate your images or at least delete any of the images you absolutely do not want. This is a huge step that will save you a ton of time ciphering through your images on the computer. I usually delete images that I don’t want as I’m shooting, especially test shots. The more you erase off your camera, the less you have to upload and the smaller the download size. My Canon EOS 5D Mark III has a RATE button included on the body, that allows you to rate up to 5 stars per image. Other camera brands may offer different in-camera methods to review and categorize images, so be familiar with the choices your gear offers you.

As soon as you are done going through the images in-camera, they can quickly be imported into a program like Adobe’s Lightroom™ and filtered to only show the rated images. This saves you the trouble of having everything load onto your screen and figuring out which images to use; this part tends to take up a huge portion of my time if I don’t do it in-camera. There probably are other editing software applications that also have filtering capabilities, but Lightroom has been the easiest program for me to use.

How you process raw image files can make a real difference — understand that your software’s default RAW settings are only a starting point! You may well find that certain combinations of color settings, tone curve options, and so on give your images a distinct, personal “look.” If and when you reach this point, save these settings in your RAW processing software. Adobe’s Lightroom lets you save them as “presets;” Canon’s Digital Photo Professional lets you save combinations of settings as “recipes.” Regardless, once memorized processing presets are uploaded, you can slap on a preset that best matches your branding image. Lightroom allows you to create custom ones that can be universally applied to each image. I would suggest only using the preset for specific coloration, because it is best to manually tweak all other features such as white balance, exposure, highlights, etc.

Sending images to clients — via computer or smartphone

When all images have been edited and straightened out, I send them out to a storage system. I personally love using Dropbox™ because it is pretty dependable, easy to access on my phone through the app, and exporting quality on the phone is amazing. Once they are all transferred over, I send the folder link to the client which they can access on their phone and download directly from.

Another method is to Airdrop™, if you are an Apple® user. Recent Macbook® laptops can sync to your iPhone and instantly transfer a selection of images. Airdrop has also been proven reliable when it comes to retaining image quality, but it might not be convenient if you aren’t near the person you are sending images to or if they don’t own an Apple product.

Sending photos through messaging systems have been proven the least reliable, in my opinion. They tend to rely on your outgoing connection for the quality of the image and the quality will significantly reduce if the connection is poor. I even noticed that sending images through Instagram’s private in-app messaging system occasionally changes the color/tone of the image as well.

This whole process can take as little as 30 minutes, not including shooting time. Those photos can be sent over the same day all ready for posting. It is a little lengthy, but the quality of your images will be fairly consistent. It might sound like a lot of work, but marketing yourself as a strong competitor means putting time and quality into the work. Hard work doesn’t go unnoticed and cultivating strong content has a positive correlation with increased exposure.

Two real-life examples — great images and fast sharing

A great example of why this method might be beneficial from an influencer’s perspective can be found in the feeds of two leading photographic influencers, Pau Dictado (@paudictado) & Lisa Linh (@bylisalinh). They understand that the clarity and editing of their images are important parts of keeping up their aesthetic. There is no way they can get away with iPhone photos for all their content, especially when they are marketing themselves as public figures that people and businesses can connect to. Pau’s feed is heavily fashion based with sprinkles of lifestyle incorporated. Her photos are used numerous of times on other social media sites and the companies’ websites as well. Her traction, engagement, and qualifications as an influencer are dependent on how well her images connect to her followers.

Lisa specializes in lifestyle and travel, and her photos take you across the nation as she reviews hotels, surrounding activities, and travel friendly fashion sense. Her travel images are not only gorgeous (I’m not just talking about the ones I’ve taken), but are also great marketing tools to keep in her media portfolio so she is able to continue her travels through sponsorships.

Summary

Anyone in the social media business knows that this process is not an easy task. Like two waves thrashing in turbulent seas, innovation and consistency fight a beautiful, yet intensive battle. There is a visual difference between a feed that is well thought out with meticulously selected images versus a feed that just takes random photos on the go and doesn’t take the time to plan out and edit them carefully. Hopefully, these tips on efficiently uploading photos from camera to phone help the whole process run smoothly for you. It might seem daunting especially to those that are very comfortable using a simple point and shoot, but the end results make all the difference.

Jennifer Wu @xjenn3
Jennifer Wu @xjenn3

Jennifer Wu is a fashion and lifestyle photographer based in Los Angeles. Her recent work spans across various platforms, shooting for companies such as Lin & Jirsa, Thuzio Executive Club, and Something Social. Past projects she collaborated with include Airbnb, House of Ccuoco by Candice Cuoco, and Chelsea Ma.

Jennifer Wu @xjenn3

Jennifer Wu is a fashion and lifestyle photographer based in Los Angeles. Her recent work spans across various platforms, shooting for companies such as Lin & Jirsa, Thuzio Executive Club, and Something Social. Past projects she collaborated with include Airbnb, House of Ccuoco by Candice Cuoco, and Chelsea Ma.

Because of the huge influencer market found in Los Angeles, Jennifer has found herself utilizing the city’s versatile backdrop as her canvas. Her car has become a mobile changing room, coffee shops are her best friend, and scaling rooftops/scoping out hidden areas have become routine. If she’s not dangling off the side of a fire escape, lying on the floor, or squatting among random plants to get her shot, she’s not satisfied. You can find her most recent work on her instagram at @xjenn3 and her portfolio at www.xjenn3photography.com.

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