CREATIVE PHOTOGRAPHY

Dare to be different: creative tips for social media shots

TikTok photographers Rosie Lugg and Eletrico share their favourite techniques for creating attention-grabbing images.
Canon Camera
The key to creating standout images to fill jam-packed social feeds is to think differently and show the world how you see it. TikTok creators Rosie Lugg (@rambosphotos) and Peter Jay (@Eletrico) do just this. They each have a passion for producing unique content, and sharing their methods and ideas with an audience.

Here, Rosie and Eletrico reveal their best tips and tricks for creating unique images that will wow your followers, using five different photography techniques.

1. Long exposure light trails

A long exposure of a man standing on a pavement in front of red light trails from a passing bus.

"For light-trail pictures, which require a long exposure, a tripod is essential to avoid camera movement," explains Rosie. "If you want somebody to be static in the shot, they also need to stay perfectly still throughout the exposure." Taken on a Canon EOS 200D (now succeeded by the Canon EOS 250D) with a Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens at 2 sec, f/5.6 and ISO100. © Rosie Lugg

A long exposure of a silhouetted figure beside a golden circle of light. Light trails radiate from the ring's edge.

For long exposures, Eletrico finds that sticking to a low sensitivity setting of ISO100 helps to enable slow shutter speeds while also banishing any trace of image noise. Taken on a Canon EOS M50 Mark II with a Canon EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens at 18mm, 13 sec, f/10 and ISO100. © Peter Jay

Attention-grabbing techniques are a must for photographers seeking social media success, and both Rosie and Eletrico suggest creating striking light-trail pictures.

Rosie recently experimented with light trails created by red buses on Tower Bridge in London. "You have to play around with camera settings for the effect you want. I generally shoot in Manual (M) mode anyway, which makes it easy to control your shutter speed and aperture, along with the ISO setting. Photographing somebody with a bus creating a light trail in the background, I found I needed a shutter speed of around two seconds, with an aperture of f/5.6 and ISO100 to get the right overall exposure. I always like to keep the ISO setting as low as possible anyway, to maximise quality and keep image noise to a minimum."

Eletrico created an equally eye-catching image using everyday household items. "I put some smouldering cotton wool inside a metal kitchen whisk," he explains. "Whirling the whisk around on a piece of string created sparks, and a long exposure of 13 seconds was just right for creating the light painting." (Caution: this could be a fire hazard. Make sure you have a fire extinguisher or other precautions on hand.) "Putting the camera on a tripod with a 10-second self-timer delay gave me the chance to set everything up and get into place before the shutter opened."

You can create similar light-trail effects with torches, LED lights or even sparklers.

2. Freezing motion with fast shutter speeds

Action-packed shots taken with fast shutter speeds really stand out on social media. Motion is frozen in a split-second, revealing detail that can't be seen with the naked eye.

For his sunset shot of water swirling out of a glass (top of page), Eletrico made use of manual focus mode. "With a self-timer delay, autofocus wouldn't necessarily have locked on to the right part of the scene, so I marked a spot on the ground and focused in advance. The vari-angle touchscreen of the Canon EOS M50 Mark II was really helpful, allowing me to compose the shot while standing in front of the camera."

Rosie says: "I love shooting models twirling around in dresses and, unless you use a really fast shutter speed, all the detail gets lost in a blur. I also much prefer shooting handheld instead of using a tripod, as I can move around and be much more spontaneous."

When shooting without a tripod, using lenses with in-built Image Stabilisation will help you get sharp shots. The Canon EOS R5 and EOS R6 have in-body IS, which works in tandem with IS lenses or even if your lens does not have IS built-in.

3. Detailed close-ups

A red circular shape with three spokes emerging from a central point reflected in water droplets above it.

"I'm amazed that the EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens delivers such excellent close-up detail," says Eletrico. "With the naked eye, I couldn't even see the light patterns in the droplets of water when creating this shot." Taken on a Canon EOS M50 Mark II with a Canon EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens at 52mm, 1/40 sec, f/5.6 and ISO400. © Peter Jay

A Canon EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens.

Eletrico used a Canon EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens for his close-up of coloured water droplets (left). The ideal "all-in-one" lens, it produces great results with subjects both near and far, and can focus as close as 25cm (at focal lengths of 18-50mm).

Macro images, revealing incredibly fine detail, are sure to make social media users stop scrolling and take notice. "I've always thought you needed a big, specialist macro lens for extreme close-ups, but I was surprised how close I could get using the Canon EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens," says Eletrico. At focal lengths of 18-50mm, the lens can focus as close as 25cm away.

"I stretched some clear tape across the circumference of a reel and placed it over an image on my phone screen for illumination, then sprayed some water droplets for the light to shine through.

"I didn't have to use any special camera settings, and the lens captured the smallest details in the droplets. Camera shake can be a real problem in macro photography, but I shot handheld and the Image Stabilizer in the lens proved incredibly effective.

4. Reflections in water

A mirror image, reflected in a puddle, of a person's legs, shot from the knee down, wearing a yellow skirt and white boots.

The idea of reflections in water made Rosie think of muddy puddles and wellington boots. "Funnily enough, despite the British weather, I had to wait more than a week for any rain," she says. Taken on a Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II (now succeeded by the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III) at 1/320 sec, f/2.8 and ISO320. © Rosie Lugg

A mirror image, reflected in a pool of water, of a child sitting on a floating mattress in front of a city skyline.

Eletrico aimed for something unusual for the theme of water reflection, making a puddle of water on his floor and shooting an image displayed on his phone, as well as its reflection, in a dark room. The result was this incredible optical illusion. Taken on a Canon EOS M50 Mark II with a Canon EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens at 18mm, 1.6 sec, f/14 and ISO100. © Peter Jay

Seeing double is enough to grab anybody's attention, and, as she demonstrated in her TikTok video, Rosie loves creating mirror images with reflections, adding the special effect of symmetry to her content. "I waited for a rainy day so there were plenty of puddles to play with," she explains. "I ended up using myself as a model and found the Canon Camera Connect app incredibly helpful. It was amazing being able to put the camera on a tripod and control all of its settings from the phone in my hand.

"To make the most of water reflections, you generally need to get down quite low – the camera angle was critical, so being able to preview the image on my phone as well as adjust shooting settings made everything really simple and straightforward," Rosie adds.

If you're not using the Camera Connect app to control your camera remotely, you'll most likely be holding it to get a lower-angle shot. In these circumstances, Rosie continues, "a tilting or vari-angle screen makes life easy and means you don't have to kneel or lie down in the wet."

Eletrico also enjoys adding creative style to his water reflection shots. "I poured some water on the floor and switched off all the lights, so it was really dark. The water reflected the image on my phone screen and the effect looks really cool. I used a narrow aperture of f/14 for a greater depth of field, so everything's sharp from the front of the scene to the back."

5. Blurred backgrounds

A woman looking up and to her right, her hand on her cheek, with blurred, star-shaped fairy lights in the background.

Rosie often uses props to add interest to her photos, setting up fairy lights or even blowing bubbles to create interesting bokeh effects. She also creates cutout shapes to put over the lens, giving a creative look to defocused points of light and bright spots. "I also often use a shallow depth of field to throw the background out of focus," she adds. Taken on a Canon EOS 200D with a Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens at 1/125 sec, f/1.4 and ISO200. © Rosie Lugg

A white marble structure with over a dozen domes and four minarets viewed through a ring in golden light.

"I set out to just use my hand in the foreground but then had the idea of holding a neutral density filter to add a more creative element," says Eletrico. Taken on a Canon EOS M50 Mark II with a Canon EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens at 18mm, 1/100 sec, f/3.5 and ISO100. © Peter Jay

Isolating the main person or object within a scene by blurring the background is one of Rosie's favourite techniques. "Most of the portraits you see on social media look quite similar, especially those taken with a mobile phone. My Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM lens gives me the edge, as its widest aperture produces a tight depth of field. It focuses all the attention on the person being photographed." If you use an EF lens on a camera with an APS-C sensor, the subject you're photographing is larger on the sensor than on a full-frame sensor, which in effect increases the lens's focal length by a factor of 1.6x. "The 'effective' focal length of the 35mm lens works out at 56mm on my Canon EOS 200D, which I find ideal for my portrait and fashion shoots. The images have a high-end, inspirational look that draws the eye and stops people in their tracks on social."

To demonstrate a shallow depth of field, Eletrico took an architectural shot of a building in the distance. His novel approach was to hold a neutral density filter in his hand at close range, including it in the shot. "Focusing on the mosque in the distance, the filter creates a dreamy, soft defocused halo around the building for special effect." Often, thinking outside the box can have beautiful results.

Get creative with your kitbag

For the most engaging content, you need kit that keeps up with your creativity. Rosie and Eletrico travel light and shoot with gear that doesn't weigh them down yet is intuitive and responsive, allowing them to create incredible work when inspiration strikes.

Rosie uses the pocket-sized Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II (now succeeded by the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III), her powerful, portable companion for unleashing ideas while on the move. She also uses a Canon EOS 200D (now succeeded by the Canon EOS 250D), a remarkably compact and lightweight DSLR perfect for use in both a home studio and out and about. "Keeping pace with fast-moving action can be a challenge," says Rosie. "But my EOS 200D is wonderfully responsive, especially when it comes to autofocus tracking."

For lenses, Rosie relies on the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM for its incredibly tight depth of field, and the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L USM (now succeeded in the EF lineup by the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM) for the versatility of a zoom lens with no compromise in image quality.

Eletrico, meanwhile, favours the compact yet powerful Canon EOS M50 Mark II paired with the ultra-versatile Canon EF-M 18-150mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM lens. The combination has surpassed his demanding expectations for just about every shooting scenario.

Inspired by these creative techniques? Watch Eletrico's tips for better shots on TikTok and then have a go at adding some fun effects to your own images. Share the results with the hashtag #FreeYourStory and tag @canonemea.


Written by Matthew Richards

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