Tips for taking brand photographs to connect with your audience and rock Instagram on a budget

My Fave Photography Apps for Instagram (all less than $10)

Lightroom Mobile

The best of the best. Adobe does not disappoint with their mobile compatible version of Lightroom. Use mobile specific presets or make all major adjustments you can make on desktop. Highly recommended. Free version or pay $4.99 for advanced features via LR’s premium membership.


A robust editing app that allows you to get your pictures instagram-ready with different filters, a variety of adjustment features, frames, and light leaks. Paid version is $2.99 and well worth it.


As its name suggests, PLANN is awesome for planning social media posts. Preview how posts will look on your IG grid before you post them. Type and save captions for easy posting. The free version is still well worth the download.

Canva Mobile

Especially great for creating social media graphics such as Instagram Story posts, Canva mobile is a design app created for the non-designer. Add text to your posts, create collages, or use one of their thousands of pre-made templates. Perfect if you want to spice up the presentation of your photographs. Free version is great or pay for Canva pro to upgrade to advanced features on both desktop and mobile for $12.99/month.

Edit your Photographs like a Pro even if you have ZERO experience

Use Presets

Even the pros use presets. Presets are premade, hand curated editing settings that can be applied to any photo. Professional photographers with distinct and sought-after editing styles often sell their presets for those who want to their edit their photos in a similar way.

Although there is a misconception that presets are a one click and you’re done sorta deal, they are actually used to speed up your workflow and provide a desired editing foundation.

Some of my personal favorite presets include Phil Chester and Tribe Archipelego. I use presets made specifically for Lightroom Desktop. They can also be purchased for photoshop.


This is where 90% of my photo editing happens. Lightroom is a robust photo organization and editing software that allows you to quickly edit entire galleries or individual photos according to your unique photographic style. My personal favorite tutorial for Lightroom newbies who are ready to kick their photo game up a notch can be found here.

Common Mistakes

  1. Editing Photos with Overly Saturated Colors: Those new to photographer who are eager to take show-stopping photographs often resort to editing colors to be more vibrant or saturated than they actually appear. This is usually obvious and can cheapen the overall look of the photo, as the colors are likely to appear to be artificially enhanced.

  2. Forgetting to Straighten your Images: Make sure your photos are straight. If you are photographing a couple by the beach or a family on a mountainside, make sure the horizon line is straightened. This really separates the newbies from the pros.

  3. Distracting Background Clutter: Make sure to either completely remove background clutter or change to a shallow aperture so that background distractions are entirely blurred out. Pictures that appear in magazines, get the most engagement on social media, and are the most aesthetically pleasing, simply do not have irrelevant background clutter.

Photo tips and tricks to rock DIY

If you are working with a small budget, but still want to make sure that your small business is staying up to speed on social, consider the following DIY tips to get you started.

Use the Self Timer to take your own business headshots

Prop up your phone using books, click on the good ol’ self timer, and strike a pose. If your patient and use trial and error, you can absolutely take your own biz photos if this way, if your short on cash.

Create your own Flatlays for quick, on-brand content

Need on-brand content right now and don’t want to overspend for it? Create your own flatlays by organizing relevant products on a flat surface with a pleasing backdrop. Wood tables and blankets work great if you don’t want to purchase a backdrop. Poster board from your local craft store also works great if you want a mono-color backdrop for things like product shots.

BTS look: How I prep for client shoots

Create a Vision/Direction Board

It’s always a good idea to create a digital collage that establishes the mood you are trying to recreate. Using Pinterest to create a board that reflects the style and vision you are after is a great starting place. Just make sure you are using other peoples’ work as inspiration and are genuinely creating your own ideas based off the content you collage.

I often find that after I get started, inspiration strikes and new ideas come up. I like using the direction board to guide me, but I am hardly ever ultra strict about this. It’s important to allow the creative process to take its course.

Source Props

I loooove thrifting my props. It’s better for the planet and your wallet and you can often create content that is unique to your brand specifically (nothing cookie cutter here!) It’s important to do this step after you’ve created your direction board because you’ll want to know the color scheme and general style you’re after in order to get props that support your grand vision.

Plan Location

Whether it’s my dining room table or a more elaborate shoot location, this step likely goes without saying. Be sure to choose a place that is consistent with the style you established during your vision board creating.

Consider Lightening

The time of day matters when it comes to photoshoots because your results will vary greatly depending on where the sun is in the sky. You can use external light sources, but for DIYers it’s almost always easier to shoot in natural light that isn’t casting too many shadows (late afternoon often works best because there is enough light but not harsh shadows).

Experiment & Shoot

Photography is all about trial and error. Shooting and tweaking. With your vision board in mind and props in hand, you can start playing around with various layouts, angles, and props to see what you like best.

Cull & Edit

Upload the final files into Lightroom to straighten, crop, and adjust colors. Use presets to speed up your workflow and edit consistently at the pro-level.

5 photographs every business needs

I am a firm believer that regardless of your industry your business needs photographs. People want to connect with the humans behind the business, see your products in use, or see your clients in the limelight. Having photographs is a great way to foster a connection between your business and audience. I suggest photos in these 5 categories to get started...

Head shot of owner

Show off the human behind the business. This is especially important for service based business owners who will be working directly with their clients.

Product shots

Perhaps this goes without saying but if you are a product-based business owner you need photographs of your product (both product and lifestyle shots) for your website and social media. Pictures with a plain backdrop are often best if you plan on using them in an online store. Lifestyle shots, of your products being made, purchased, or used are also a great addition to your shot list.

If you aren’t a product based business owner, I urge you to think about the different products you use regularly in business. As a designer, I use my Macbook everyday. Photographing the tools or materials you use to “make it happen” as a service based business owner is another great addition.


Behind-the-scenes shots of you either creating your product or working on your service. This is a great way to let your audience into your world and add variety to your social media feeds.

Team headshots

If you have a team, be sure to include pictures of them as well. Your audience will be curious about the process you undergo to make your products or execute your service. Show off the people who help you make it happen!

Before & After

Photograph your audience’s world before your product or service and after to demonstrate the transformation your business takes people through. This is an especially good sales method because humans are naturally drawn to transformation stories and have a penchant for change.

A note from Alli

I hope that you find these tips, tricks, and resources useful for taking on-brand photographs for your business to spruce up your website or make your social media feed shine.

If you don’t feel like you have an eye for photography or simply don’t have enough time in the day to make it happen, I urge you to email I love creating on-brand content for my clients and would love to hop on a consult call to talk more about your project.