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Creating a better photo album on Facebook…

February 27, 2012

Google+, Twitter, or any other social media site.

I don’t think every photo someone posts on-line needs to be an award winner, but I have a few tips for some of the chronic mistakes that pass through my daily Facebook news feed and Twitter stream.

The birthday of a one-year-old should not result in nearly 400 Facebook photos.

1) Never-ending party photos – We all have this Facebook “friend” the one who thinks you have to post every photo from a party so people can fully appreciate the awesomeness of the event. Yeah… no. Don’t think of Facebook as a photo repository, think of it as your own magazine and you’re the publisher. Have you ever seem a magazine just litter the pages with haphazardly chosen photos? Advertisements, yes. Photos, no. Rolling Stone will generally post one party photo per blurb, maybe two. For Facebook, I’ll cut you some slack, let’s say 10-20, especially if there are a lot of friends at the party and you want to make sure everyone gets a tag. In that case, feel free to overpost, but once everyone’s been noted and you’ve captured the “essence” of the party, stop. Just walk away. You’ve done your best.

C'mon people, just one face in a shot will make this album much better.

2) The faceless landscape photographer – Another classic, the shooter who loves to take pictures of bucolic vistas or gritty cityscapes, but absolutely refuses to put a human body or, GASP, their own face in a shot. These people have no idea of the snooze factor of these photo albums. Yes, the pictures are very pretty, but after the first five no one but an arborist or an architect is interested. Your Facebook friends want to see what YOU’RE up to, not just the point of view of your camera. Let’s make a deal, for every three photos of some mountain range or bridge, you drop in one photo of yourself enjoying a moment of your trip. At the very least, make sure there’s a few shots of your travel partners – some human for us other humans to bond with.

Who are these kids? Who do they belong to? A caption would help.

3) The silent photo – CAPTIONS PEOPLE! I know you know where you were and who you were with, but to the rest of us it’s a mystery unless you put in a description. I realize a photo is worth of thousand words, but none of them have any context without a little direction. Who is that U.S. Army general you’re standing next to? Why did you post a picture of a pie? Who are those kids in the shot? Yours? Nephews? Orphans? Give us some clarity. If we’re friends on Facebook, chances are I’m interested in your life to some degree, why not fill in on some of the details.

This is an easy fix that will vastly improve the photo. Simply bring the two people in the shot closer to the camera. You get to see the expression on their faces AND the beautiful vista.

4) The faraway shooter – Have you ever heard the phrase “the eyes are the window to the soul?” Well, if you keep taking photos of people who are far from the camera, we’ll never be able to find out. I realize you may be trying to give the idea of scope by taking a shot of a big background, but if there are also people you want to get in the shot bring them forward so they’re closer to the camera. Trust me, we’ll still get the idea of the mountain range behind them, but this way we’ll also be able to see expressions. To some degree this can be done after the fact, by simply cropping the photo so the people in the shot fill most of the frame, they’ll look bigger and you’ll only sacrifice a little bit of panorama.

To be fair, this is one of mine. Every shot has an appearance from my son. He may be cute, but he's not that cute.

5) It’s all about the kids/pets – I admit, I fall into this trap. Parents, we love our children and often our friends want to see our children too. But they want to see more than just our children. They want to see us having fun or doing something interesting. If the vast majority of photos we’re posting are shots of our kids being cute or sporty, we’re doing a disservice to our friends. Let’s be judicious with the kid photos. Go ahead and post them, but keep it to a few, not a flood. One shot of your kid in his costume, not seven from every angle with a multitude of expressions. Pet owners, the same rules apply.

The sum of all this advice is: be your best editor. Our first inclination may be to post as much as we can. But I assure you, a tight album of no more than two dozen well-crafted photos will make your fellow Facebook friends very happy and will help you tell an interesting story.

And yes, I have broken all these rules. But I’m trying!

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Jennifer permalink
    February 28, 2012 10:37 AM

    um – yes, he IS THAT CUTE

    • February 28, 2012 10:38 AM

      You’re supposed to say that, you’re his mother.

  2. Pat permalink
    February 28, 2012 11:00 AM

    I agree with Jennifer. He IS that cute!

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