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  • Emily Kallick

The Complete Guide To People Pictures On Social Media for Small Business Owners

Updated: Mar 24


What did you have for breakfast?


Breakfast is my favorite meal - and not just because it's when I have my first cup of coffee.

If you've ever had a photo or video session with me, you've probably heard me ask you, "what did you have for breakfast?" and then you probably thought about it a little - or even laughed at the shock of the question - and stopped thinking about how awkward you felt.


I get it.


I recently took fresh headshots and boy, was I awkward!



Holy-uncomfortable, Batman.


All of the sudden you think of 1.65 million reasons you should NOT be in front of the camera.

  • It's not about you, it's about the product or the experience.

  • What you look like should be less important than the work that you do.

  • You've never so blatantly put your face *out there* *in cyberspace* and it should be perfect or not at all.

I hate to do it to you, but that’s where you’d be mistaken.

I’ve found that pictures of people make up 87.5% of the best engaged with posts (real live people loving what you’re doing) for local businesses.


Let's not be shy - people love pictures of people. And you, my friend, are in the people business.


Here is your guide to incorporating more photos of people in your digital media.


First off - let's take care of the scaries.

  • You don't have to BE or ACT like an influencer. Just be you in your element - and you sure don't have to look directly at the camera!

  • You're ALWAYS going to find something to criticize about a photo of yourself. Do your best to be objective.

  • Share the load! Not all people pictures have to be of YOU. Your employees, your customers or clients, or even your business associates are wonderful subjects.



How do you start getting more pictures of people?


That is to say, in between doing your actual job of running your business which often occupies far more time than a 9-5.


You'll have to schedule it to begin with.


You're training a muscle, and it all starts with a plan. Here are two ways to achieve pre-meditated people-photo opportunities.



Take More On-The-Job Photos


Time: 30 minutes - 1 hour

Monthly, schedule in time when you have help (if you don't have employees, family members are easy targets for this - plus or minus the promise of a brewsky after work) for a photojournalism mad dash.


What you'll do:

Imagine you are starting your day all over again. From what you do when you first set out to work to how you close out the day.


Have your helper snap photos of you

  • With your morning [-or cold] coffee. No one will know your secrets.

  • Straightening your desk or retail space. Busy hands will distract you from straining your face.

  • Working at your [tidied] computer desk.

  • Greeting a [fake] customer or client.

  • Interacting with your space - sitting in a chair, leaning against the wall, coming down the stairs, etc.



Take More Photos of Happy Customers, Clients, or Associates


Time: A busy afternoon or throughout the day

Schedule this whenever the situation presents itself. It may be a weekend afternoon for a retail space, or a planned Monday full of back to back meetings.


What you'll do:

Ask your patrons if you can take a photo or two of them shopping around for your social media [or website].

  • Snap photos of people in your retail space, browsing your selection.

  • Grab a photo of them placing their purchase on your sales counter.

  • Take a picture of the patron with their purchase wrapped or bagged.

  • Don't be afraid to ask them specific questions as to why they chose your business to shop at. This information will be imperative when it comes to captions - see below.


If you're taking meetings, simply ask to take a quick photo with - or of - your associate or client.


Say, "I'd love to highlight the great work we're doing together on my social media [or website]" If applicable, mention tagging or linking over to their business in your post.

  • Take a picture of them with their meeting materials.

  • Highlight them in the place that you've met - a coffeeshop or restaurant, their offices, or yours.

  • Get in there and take a group photo. Try looking at each other in the photo - It's quite dynamic.



How do you edit pictures of people?


First, the set up.


Lighting is everything and it begins before the editing process. Don't try this at home - or in the office of you have poor lighting.


Yes, you could invest in a lighting kit... or you could stand by a window.


  • Be sure you have diffused natural light.

  • If you have a smartphone - yes, a phone - with the option to shoot in 'portrait mode', set it to 'studio light'.

  • Go to your settings, camera settings, and toggle on the grid.

Once you have your photos, use an app like A Color Story or Adobe Lightroom Photo Editor to make SUBTLE improvements to your photos.

  • Crop to a social media- friendly size.

  • Lower the exposure and boost the brightness just a touch.

  • Add a little bit of contrast.

  • Check the temperature and adjust for a warm, realistic look.

  • Sharpen the image.


How do you *actually* post more pictures of people?


Sure, your 'About' page is probably due for some fresh photos... but how do you nonchalantly post a picture of your face on, say, Facebook or Instagram?


And what do you put as the caption?


First : The logistics.

You can choose to use an organic, or unplanned, posting schedule. Just know that you're inviting a little chaos into your life by playing it by ear. I know you have better things to do.


Using a third party social media publishing company reminds you when to post - and allows you to pen your posts ahead of time. Batch scheduling will save you SO MUCH TIME, but won't replace a solid regular practice of sharing impromptu 'stories' or occasional more spontaneous post opportunities that bring a nice realism to a well curated social media outlet.


Companies like Hootsuite and Buffer both have a lovely free version of their online software.


Next : The Text.

  • Praise for other people that have made your life easier - and tag them!

  • Ask for the stories or context from the people that you photograph. Keep a notebook to quickly jot down what they say once they leave. Or, set up an email address for customer stories so all staff can participate efficiently from their phones.

  • Behind the scenes stories or updates for your business.

  • Share your methodology - what makes your approach different.

  • Tell your origin story.

Now, I love a good fool-proof strategy for great content interaction, but everything in moderation. Experiment with your frequency of sharing your fabulous new people-pictures until you find a rate that feels on-brand and SUSTAINABLE to integrate with your other time constraints. Start with planning every 3rd-5th post as one with a human and adjust from there.


Finally, remember that people respond to genuine outreach.


Here's to keeping it real and embracing the power of human faces in a digital world.


PS: Here's the link to my 2021 Photojournalism Special (there's only 6 more days to lock in your $40 session!).

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