How to tackle your first photoshoot

Lights! Camera! Meltdown! As an introvert, being the center of attention has always been frightening. I’m a naturally awkward person, so when I experienced my very first photoshoot, I was overcome with nerves. The end product was not what I had anticipated at all, it was so much better! The photographer, Zaid and his assistant, Danyaal did an amazing job at making me feel comfortable. They joked and complimented me and told me exactly what I needed to do. It wasn’t long until I got the hang of it and decided to simply get over my insecurities and just own the stage. Sometimes it isn’t easy to just relax, so I’ve put together some tips and tricks to help you along.

Think happy thoughts
Your thoughts control your body and the way others perceive you, making your mental attitude very important. So, block out that negative voice that tells you you’re too awkward to be photographed, and focus on the positives. Maybe you have a lovely smile or amazing cheek bones – find ways to play up your best features.

Don’t overthink it
Insecure and anxious people tend to overthink things (believe me, I know). When being photographed it’s easy to see your anxiety coming through. Pose in a way that feels natural to you, there’s no need to be overly technical about things. Just go with the flow.

Have fun!
This is really important. A genuine smile or laugh looks great on camera. Think of something funny or play some upbeat music in the background. Focus on enjoying the moment and just letting go.

Have some visual references
When I’m nervous or overwhelmed my brain just doesn’t seem to function. When all eyes are on you it’s even worse, so have some visual references for poses you’d like to do at the shoot. This will give you more direction and a lot more confidence.

Motivational support
If you still feel uncomfortable about the shoot, bring a motivator along. By this I mean a friend who can talk you into being your best. We all have that one friend with such an infectious, positive energy that they can easily make you feel at ease. Get them to come to the shoot for some motivational support.

Practice
There’s nothing wrong with a bit of practice in the privacy of your own home. I was surprised to learn that everyone does it. Practice a few positions and figure out your best angles. When you’re in front of the camera, imagine yourself practicing in your room, this will ease the pressure and make you move more naturally.

Not everyone is born to be a model and that’s absolutely fine. But there’s no reason why you should shy away from an opportunity to look and be your best. So get out there and shine how you were meant to, and don’t forget to smile.

Thameenah
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What we’ve learnt about social media (so far) – Part 1

Where it all began…

Layla: Up until last year Feb, we had no Instagram presence. We focused mainly on Facebook which was great, until they made it almost impossible to reach our followers without paying for the engagement. We joined Instagram because one of our clients had asked why weren’t using it for business (duh) and requested we manage their pages. We honestly thought it was mainly used for selfie uploads and documenting those ridiculously embarrassing moments of friendship and family. Boy were we wrong! We were blown away by the visual charm of small businesses, fellow creatives and design studios with their addictive feeds. Why were we not on Instagram and how did I not know about this amazing community for business?

Tegan: Personally, I really didn’t enjoy social media at all. While it was an often hilarious way to spend a little time catching up with friends and family, like Layla says, it was mostly filled with cringeworthy exhibitionism and strange friend requests from people I didn’t know. But when I started thinking about the potential it had for business and meaningful engagement, I began to understand the power of social media. Sometimes you have to wade through a lot of junk before you find a gem. But it’s the searching and the joy of discovering something unique and special that makes me enjoy social media so much more these days.

Layla: The first thing I did was look for creatives to see what they did and how they did it. I went local, I went international, I went mad – excited was an understatement. I was lost in a visual world of pretty pictures, inspiring quotes and videos! I also noticed that the comments were filled with positivity and support which always excites me. Not only do we have our own Instagram and Facebook pages, we also manage social media for our clients. So, this is what we’ve learnt in our first year of Instagram, which by the way allows you to share content to Facebook too. Score!

Planning…

Layla: In the beginning, we started with our content plan, and the look and feel we wanted to achieve. Because we’re a design studio, it was easy for us to create our own content and use existing images and artwork. We wanted to present a feed that was true to our brand and brought our vision and energy across to those who visited our page. As creatives, we have a tendency to um… overthink the visual strategy. We’ve learnt that it needs to be real and relatable. Quality content and images speak volumes. It shows that you put effort in to what you put out.  

Tegan: While Layla prefers to map content out visually (very important!) I look at things a little more linearly. For me, (I see you rolling your eyes Layla), Excel spreadsheets work the best. In separate columns I’ll list what my objective is with each post, which posts I’ll boost or advertise, what my advertising budget is for that month, which hashtags I’ll use, and even how I will leverage the tools unique to each platform such as Insta Stories, Facebook videos, events, photo albums and multiple images. It helps me to order my thoughts and “tell the story” when all that information is conveniently in one place. This helps me to plan content a whole month in advance and to think strategically about the results I want to achieve. When I’m done I hand the whole plan over to the design team to work their magic.

The problem with organic…

Layla: We wanted to explore social media, show the world what we’ve been doing and see how it would benefit our clients. We find that the more we interact with followers, the more relatable we become. Yes, we are real people, with real problems and passions. It’s a great way to create brand awareness and invite people to get to know who you are and what you can do. We don’t stress too much about our number of followers (they come and go every day) but focus more on creating an environment where we’re speaking to relevant followers. When it comes to clients, the reality is that even the most glorious visual may not get the high engagement that they want unless we boost it, so make sure you allocate some budget to this. Oh, and make sure you have a business profile in order to do this.

Tegan: As Layla said, Facebook has made it really hard for small businesses to attract followers or get their product or service in front of potential customers. And since Instagram is owned by Facebook, you can bet Instagram is already following the same route. Facebook ranks what people prefer to see (content from friends, family and news) higher than content from brands. So in essence, they’ve forced us to boost and advertise our businesses. If you didn’t have a social media marketing budget before, however small, now is the time to factor one in. Spending a little money to make a little money, is after all, the name of the game. The good news is you can get a lot of value for a small investment.

Advertising, why we do it…

Layla: When it comes to client budgets, we spend time testing what content works best and those are the posts that we boost. Promoting posts on a Friday to run through the weekend works because social media engagement is good on weekends. Competitions for the win (of course!), video content is next and then eye catching visuals work well on Facebook and Instagram.

For our social media strategy, we tend to focus more on Instagram because it is more visual. We only boost our blog posts because we feel that the information can help others, so we aim to share the love. We prefer our followers to be organic and interested in what we do rather than spending budget on getting higher numbers. It’s different for our clients though and every strategy is customised for the brands we work on.

Tegan: To start, settle on a social media marketing budget you’re comfortable with. We recommend starting out small. There is a lot to learn and understand about advertising on social media and what works for one brand might not work for another. Along the way, using the feedback each platform gives, you’ll gain greater insight into your audience and discover what works and what doesn’t work. Start small and then scale up as you become more confident and begin to get the results you’re looking for. Facebook and Instagram has made it easy for you to understand how to set objectives for your ad campaigns and interpret the feedback with lots of free step-by-step instructions along the way, so we won’t bore you with the details. But if you need help, visualising or creating a social media marketing plan for your business, we can help.

That’s a wrap…

Tegan: The Internet has made it possible for the little man on the street to compete with giant corporations on a global scale. It’s pretty cool actually and I really enjoy the strategy side of things. With social media, you have an amazing opportunity to connect people to your product or service in a meaningful way, with great visual content and a plan that, if done well, can help get your message to the people that matter.

Layla: Let’s connect, tell our stories and have fun looking into the windows of other businesses. It’s all about sharing work, experiences and learning. Don’t forget to have fun though and watch out for those puppy pages.