How to take good Instagram photos of umbrellas

phone photos headerWhen you're making a cocktail, a pina colada if you will, the last thing you do is place a cocktail umbrella in to finish it off - before pulling out your phone and snapping a happy little picture for Instagram.

When you set up your Shadowspec Umbrella, it's the finishing touches on your perfect backyard. Perfect for capturing a photo for the socials.

Umbrellas are great subjects.

When it comes to photography, umbrellas are great models. They can be quite complex to photograph however (as our communication department knows all too well). We've learnt a few things about the best way to take photos of umbrellas over the years and we'd like to impart some of that expert detail that you can use to take your own spectacular shots.


1. Exposure is key for your photo.

When you're using a phone to take photos often the exposure setting is automatic - this is a challenge for taking photos of umbrellas because there is often variable light levels.

Umbrellas by etymological definition, provide shade. To have shade you've got to have light so therefore your frame will have bright spots and dark spots when you're taking photos of umbrellas. 

exposure iconTo counteract this, we suggest you switch to manual exposure mode or pro mode.

On iOS devices such as Apple's iPhone; you can adjust the exposure by long holding your finger on the frame then slide up or down to adjust.

Android devices are more varied in their options but most have a pro mode or follow the same system as the iPhones.

The key is to decide which part of your frame you want to be defined. You may need to make a decision about having a slightly brighter sky to have a nice shot of the umbrella. We often err on the side of under exposure with phone photos as its hard to correct brighter photos than darker ones.

2. Time of the day for umbrellas.

Further to exposure, we often look to take photos of umbrellas during the "Golden Hour" when the sun is about to set or just after the sun has risen. During this time of the day the  sun is lower in the sky and the particles in the air closer to the horizon diffuse the light of the sun giving you a warm, soft light that is evenly distributed. This gives your subject and it's surrounding the same amount of light which creates an even exposure level and makes for a better photo in general.

golden hour iphoneThere is a reason pro photographers talk so much about the "Golden Hour" and you should look to take advantage of the once, or twice, a day phenomenon to take the best photos for your instagram.

3. Framing and Composition for Instagram.

Compositing a frame with the correct proportions has been an important part of design, architecture and photography for as long as humans have been creating things. Umbrellas pose an interesting framing challenge as the shape, height and width isn't conducive to a portrait shot or even a square frame for Instagram. It's important to take care when framing your umbrella to make sure the important aspects that you want to show off are in the frame.

When it comes to framing an umbrella you've got a few things to consider. The first thing you need to do is turn on the grid on your phones camera app, this will give you access to a "Rule-of-Thirds" guide. The "Rule-of-Thirds" is an important framing principle that is conducive to photos being aesthetic, convey a message and resonate with human perception. Try and frame your umbrella so one of the lines on the grid follows the mast or canopy this will ensure your image is pleasing to the eye.

Think about the feeling you want to evoke with your image - when we take photos of Shadowspec Umbrellas we wait for a day when the sky is blue and the breeze is low - this gives us the scope to take great shots of the umbrellas with a rich blue background ensuring the umbrellas stand out as the hero of the shot.

framing shot umbrellaYou don't need to fill up your photo with items to make it interesting - sometimes a good photo is defined by what isn't in the photo as much as its defined by what is in it. This is the negative space of the image and it helps focus the viewer on the hero of the shot.

4. The angle of the shot matters too.

We humans see the world in a particular way. From our eye level - we grow accustomed to our perspective and how we see things. Photos that stand out are taken from  different angles. A lot of iPhone photography comes from chest or eye height because that is how instinct dictates we take the snap. Pull out the phone, hold it in front of your face and grab it.

Because of this, a lot of social feeds are filled with a waterfall of eye-level images. How can you stand out from that cacophony of visual noise? With a shot from a different angle.

Add interest to your snap with a low or high angle of your umbrella. Low angles give a sense of size, scope and presence whereas a high angle shot will give the perception of security, wholesomeness and comfort.

Tell your visual umbrella story.

Instagram photos and phone shots are a great way to show off your creativity, eye for detail and your taste.

Remember to focus on the exposure, framing and angle of the shot and you'll pull off premium professional shots in no time.

Take great photos of your ideas and set the trends for your space. If you've taken any great photos of Shadowspec Umbrellas  send them through to us, we'd love to see them.

Keep on snapping

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