The Instagram sneaker community is thriving. From Toronto to Winnipeg, from The Bay to Manchester, from New York City to Jacksonville, it’s become a platform that celebrates creative diversity. It’s turned regular 9-5 collectors into Internet celebrities almost overnight. And though there will always be trolls–what is life without ’em?–the most blatant overarching theme among shoeheads on the ‘gram is a celebration of what we all have in common.
But despite the unique tastes, it’s hardly an avenue for game-changing photography. Let’s be honest–there are only so many ways you can shoot a sneaker. Yes, we know about what some of the more ambitious ones will do to get the perfect sneaker selfie but, overall, a simple #OutfitFromAbove shot does the trick.
For the most part, almost every sneakerhead IG is going to give you the sneaker selfie shot, the in-hand shot, the profile shot…so mastering the fundamentals is necessary.
To help showcase, we got up with photographer and sneaker collector @batangsmallville. Ben Aguilar is a freelance photographer currently living in Winnipeg, Canada, where he takes some of the most creative sneaker photography on the Internets. Though his account boasts just over 10,000 followers, his eclectic taste for incredible imagery, detailed fits, and contrasting backdrops makes him unique among a community of imitators.
“Good light is always necessary for me and that’s the first thing I always look for when scouting a spot,” Aguilar says of his approach to shooting sneakers. “Second is the background. The more simple the better.”
This is going to be a monster year for sneakerheads, from the upcoming release of the “Nike Air” Air Jordan IV to eventual new signatures for LeBron James and Stephen Curry to next holiday season with rumors persisting that we might see the “Space Jam” Air Jordan XI again. We all have goals this year. However, if there’s one thing we have in common, it’s this: We want to take the dopest sneaker pictures possible.
Let @batangsmallville show and tell you how it’s done. Take notes. These are 9 of the Best Types of Instagram Sneaker Pictures.
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THE LEVITATE SHOT
“As much as possible I always look for good light, but on this kind of shot good light is not enough, it has to be great light because you’re gunna need a faster shutter speed like 500/sec. A faster lens will help you achieve this shot by using the widest aperture like 1.4, 1.8 or 2.8 to separate the shoes in the background. Camera on the tripod and a shutter remote. Make sure to hit the focus tracking mode on before you start clicking to get the kicks in focus even if it’s moving.”
THE IN-HAND SHOT
“I used two flashguns with soft box and umbrella to soften the light a bit with grid for this shot. One as the main light and second as a fill light. Camera on tripod and a remote shutter. Look for a dark room, no natural light coming in. Get the proper exposure between your camera and flashguns. Good anticipation of where the shoes will be on your frame is the key here if you’re doing this by yourself to get the right light.”
THE OVERHEAD SHOT
“Stairs are the best place to shoot a complete overhead shot. So I hustle hard when I see lights and shadows crossing together so I don’t loose them. If you’re shooting alone, set up the camera or tripod higher than where you will be standing and anticipate your pose when you frame the shot.”
THE FULL FIT SHOT
“This idea has been in my head for awhile and I’ve been waiting to do this kind of shot in the right time and place. Patiently waited for the elevator to open up empty to avoid distractions. Takes time to time the elevator to halfway closed and at the same time get the whole outfit lit. Camera on tripod and a remote shutter for this particular shot. Continuous mode or burst mode will be helpful for this shot.”
THE NATURE SHOT
“Birch trees and snow are the best place to shoot at during winter if your theme is nature, which is handy for Winnipeggers. Camera on tripod with remote shutter; a warm jacket to keep you warm after every click. And a snow shovel to get rid of 15 inches of snow.”
THE WATER SHOT
“The snow is kinda melted now and streets are all muddy. I tried getting some shots from there but didn’t work well. So I tried indoor where there is water where you can dip the shoes. Set the camera on the ground/floor and hit the WiFi connection on between camera and my phone.”
THE FAKE WALK SHOT // THE LACE UP SHOT // THE PROFILE SHOT
“I was looking for a good light directing to the floor that has character or just plain floor and this is the best one indoor. Can’t shoot outdoor because of -20C weather. The little symmetry on the scene convinced me that this is the spot. So profile shot, lacing up, and fake walk shots are taken on this same spot. I’m trying to show I’m wearing the Nike Tech Fleece pants on these photos too–that’s why it’s not the usual photos of profile, lacing up, and fake walk shot you always seen on IG. Tripod and WiFi connection are a must if you don’t have a photographer but only yourself, like me, to do this shot. But if your camera has tilting/rotating screen you might only need a remote shutter instead of using WiFi.”
Follow Ben: Instagram