Ever wondered how to take good Instagram photos? How foodies snap their mouth-watering brunch flatlays? Or how fashion bloggers always make the colors in their #OOTD really pop?
If you’re feeling a bit jelly because your photos and Instagram Stories always seem to look flat, the good news is you don’t need to splash cash on an expensive DSLR to take the perfect Instagram photo.
So get ready to step up your Instagram strategy with these tap-worthy techniques.
Seriously, spend some time really exploring your phone’s camera features and click through all the settings. You might think you know your camera like the back of your hand, but after 5 minutes reviewing how it works you might come across a setting you hadn’t noticed before.
When you take a photo of something in the shade set against a sunny sky, cameras either make the subject too dark or the sky too bright. Fortunately, there’s a simple trick to fixing this—underexposing your photo.
To underexpose your shot on an iPhone, tap and hold the brightest area of the screen. A yellow square will appear along with “AE/AF LOCK,” which means you’ve just locked in the auto exposure and auto focus for your shot.
Now you can move your camera around to compose your photo and get the perfect snap!
You might be thinking, why would I want a dark photo?! When your photo is over-exposed, there’s no way to fix it. But if you have an under-exposed shot, you can easily brighten the dark bits of the image with editing later.
HDR (High Dynamic Range) aims to fix the problems with over and underexposure, promising the best of both worlds so you can take good Instagram photos. The problem is, HDR doesn’t always deliver.
Basically, what HDR does is take a bunch of different exposures of the same photo and then splice them together in one detailed photo. But if you want to take good Instagram photos, they can look unnatural and your colors off-balance. So keep your snaps simple and turn this feature off.
If high quality images are important for your brand, getting a lens attachment for your phone can make all the difference to the look and feel of your photos. A wide-angle lens, for example, lets you fit in more detail and create a greater sense of perspective, especially if you’re into travel photography.
There are many different types of lenses you can buy for smartphones; everything from telephoto and wide-angle lenses to fish-eye and macro kits that work on both the front and rear-facing cameras. If you just want an easy way to expand your phone camera’s capabilities, a clip-on lens set is an affordable option worth trying.
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There are two over-arching conventions of photography you need to practice if you want to take the perfect Instagram photo: composition and lighting.
Composition is all about how you put together all the visual elements in your photo. Unfortunately, most people don’t really use their eyes before taking a snap! Instead of taking a hundred photos before settling on the “best” one, take a moment to look at the scene and really think about how you could take good Instagram photos with what’s in front of you.
Look at the subject, consider what’s in the background, and think about how you could best frame your photo. Also, take a second to check for anything that might be distracting (are there any potential photo bombers or reflections in the image?).
You want your image to direct the viewer’s eye to the subject of your photo while capturing a story or emotion. Patterns, textures, symmetry, asymmetry, depth, lines, curves, contrast, color, negative space, and shapes are all elements of composition that can take what might otherwise be a boring photo and give it visual punch.
Here are a few other things to keep in mind in order to take good Instagram photos:
The rule of thirds is one of the first things you learn when studying photography. Basically, it refers to a simple method for balancing an image. It divides a photo into a 3×3 grid and the idea is that you’re meant to align the subject of your photo along the lines and intersections of the grid to create balance.
Phones usually have a grid setting, so go ahead, turn it on, and experiment with how you compose your shots.
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Instead of taking your photos at eye level, consider how you might be able to move the camera or your body to capture it from a more interesting perspective. Try crouching to shoot from below, standing on a chair to take your photo from above, getting up close or further back.
Lighting can make or break an image when you’re trying to take good Instagram photos. There’s nothing more disappointing than taking a great selfie with your mates and then later discovering the background is over-exposed and your faces are so dark you can’t see anyone’s features.
Before you take your shots, consider the lighting and how you could best use it to your advantage to bring out the colors in your photos.
If you want to take good Instagram photos, snap them indoors near windows with great natural light, or outside in daylight. Natural light provides the best clarity and colors for your photos, as well as helping keep them sharp and the lines crisp.
Natural light doesn’t automatically mean you need sunshine to take good Instagram photos. Direct sunshine can actually make taking a great snap harder than it needs to be thanks to harsh glare.
You’ve seen them all before, the quintessential Instagram photo “types” that always seem to pop up on the platform. They’re popular and like-inducing for a reason—these photos are taken with great care, using lighting and composition to create a beautiful image.
Let’s take a look at how you can compose and edit your images for similar results.
Flatlay food shots look so simple yet can be difficult to get right. Here are some tips to help you take the perfect flatlay.
This type is a favorite of travel photographers who want to take good Instagram photos. A beautiful, wide landscape with a teeny tiny person in the distance isn’t just awe-inspiring, but it’s also fairly easy to snap.
Standing someone in front of a wall instantly makes them the focus of your photo.
Taking good Instagram photos with your back to the camera from a distance throws up a couple of challenges. For a start, where do you put your phone? Also, how do you actually take the photo?
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Once you’ve taken your photo, that’s only half your work done—it’s time to edit your image. There is a multitude of editing apps available, all with easy to use features and filters. The following are three of the most popular apps around.
VSCO was one of the first image editing apps for smartphones and continues to be one of the most popular. It’s a beautiful, easy to use app with dozens of filters and all the basic tools you need for adjusting contrast, saturation, highlights, shadows, temperature, along with many more advanced settings.
For a consistent look and feel across your Instagram account, choose a few presets that suit your style and stick with those for all your images.
For serious phone photographers, Snapseed offers professional-level photo editing features combined with an intuitive interface, courtesy of Google. It has dozens of editing tools, from simple settings for adjusting brightness and highlights to advanced settings for touching up specific areas of your photos.
Snapseed also has tools you won’t find in other apps; you can adjust the “ambiance” of your photos for moodier or softer shots, use the brush tool to brighten, darken, or saturate part of your photo, or use the healing tool to remove blemishes from people’s faces.
Adobe’s suite of photography software is arguably the best on the market and ideal for professional photographers. Similarly, the company’s mobile version of Lightroom CC provides a lightweight adaption but with the advanced editing capabilities, you would expect from Adobe.
The app feature powerful presets and is packed with tons of tools, enabling you to edit almost every little detail in an image. But what’s really special about this app is the built-in camera, which allows you to see presets in action while you’re taking a shot.
Now it’s your turn. Go out into the world and put the tips and advice we’ve covered here and start taking tap-worthy photos. Like anything in life, practice makes perfect! So take the time to experiment and find the techniques that you feel comfortable using before launching your first Instagram promotion.
Editing can make a good photo great, so play around with the different editing apps available and stick with the one that best suits your photography style so you can create good Instagram photos.
Don’t forget to write a good Instagram caption to go with your photos! They give your images context, let you show off your brand’s personality, connect with your target audience, and compel your followers to take action.
At the end of the day, you’re using Instagram to connect with people, raise brand awareness and visibility, and promote your product or service.
So make sure you put just as much time into engaging with followers and reviewing your analytics for long-term Instagram success.