Instagram is quickly becoming one of the most widely-adopted social networks out there. While it was a rising star before its acquisition by Facebook, having the backing of the largest social network has certainly helped it continue to grow in popularity.
From Khloé Kardashian to Chris Evans to Beyonce…pop stars have flocked to the social network to share a behind-the-scenes look at their lives. Brands haven’t missed the chance to grow their Instagram following, either. Nike, Tory Burch, and Victoria’s Secret have all garnered huge followings by sharing photos of their products in action.
But that doesn’t mean that Instagram is only for the rich and famous…quite the contrary. With the right photos, a clear understanding and appropriate use of hashtags, and a lot of hard work, you could turn your photos into a huge social media following. The key, though, starts with great photographs.
In order to help you focus (see what I did there?) on getting great snaps for Instagram, I put together my list of ten really important things to consider when taking that next photo. I’m starting with ten, but my plan is to continue to grow the list as commenters add their great tips.
If you have a tip for taking great Instagram photos, be sure to leave it in the comments below along with your Instagram handle. If I add it to the list, I will attribute it to you and link to your Instagram account.
Here are my tips to get thing started.
Instagram Photography Tip #1 – Strive to take pictures in natural lighting
With so many advancements in the smartphone cameras, you might feel like there is no need to think about natural light. You can always just add a filter later, right? Not really.
Sure, filters are great but they are a often a crutch for poor photography. They are essentially covering up bad skin with makeup. You might look good in the short-term, but the skin conditions still exist and need to be addressed.
Do yourself a favor and really learn how your smartphone camera works, what features it offers, and how you can adjust those settings depending on the natural lighting. You can also do yourself a favor and take a free online course in understanding basic photography and principles of lighting. You’d be surprised how a little extra training can go in helping you take better Instagram photos.
…and for those who rely heavily on artificial ring lights, keep in mind that artificial lighting can never beat natural light when it comes to a great photo. Plan your photo shoot by keeping the time of the day in mind. Try your best to take a picture when you have plenty of natural light around you.
Instagram Photography Tip #2 – Strong colors are also essential
A photo with amazing photos is something that instantly catches people’s eyes the minute they see it.
Instagram users are constantly scrolling through their feed, so you don’t usually get more than five seconds to grabbing their attention and getting that like or follow. Highlighting the important aspects of a picture is a way to get attention. Using strong yet gorgeous colors and themes can also help out a lot.
Interested in learning which colors can really make your Instagram pop? Here’s a great article that can help you better understand the psychology of color and how it relates to Instagram.
Instagram Photography Tip #3 – Click a picture with your eyes before using a camera
You’d be surprised what an amazing camera you already have built into your body. Your eyes and brain, working in combination, can tell you so much about whether a photo will be good…if you only pay attention to them.
Before you take a picture, you have to look at the surroundings and imagine it in your head. Ever wonder why professional photographers and videographers hold their hands in front of them to “frame a shot”? They are taking a photo or video with their eyes and brain. They are literally thinking about what the camera is going to see.
Everything from the background to the pose you wish to strike in the photo needs to be planned. This will enable you to not make any silly mistakes while you snap the photo.
Take your time. Plan your photo. See the outcome before you ever snap the shutter.
Instagram Photography Tip #4 – The angle from which you take the photo also matters
The great thing about digital cameras and smart phones is you can take a TON of photos without every having to worry about the cost of developing film. For that reason, there is NO REASON not to take a ton of different photos from a variety of angles.
Sometimes the lighting won’t be right in one shot. Other times, something in the background will disrupt the shot.
Regardless of what happens, take several photos from different angles. Move around. Adjust your position from standing to kneeling. Move around and look at the photo from different viewpoints.
Having more angles and positions to choose from will help you find the one that will work best for your Instagram following.
Instagram Photography Tip #5 – Add interesting props to your pictures once in a while
A little fun on your Instagram can go a long way. Don’t be afraid to add an occasional prop to your photos.
Adding a meaningful prop often enhances the way a story is told through pictures. It adds character to the picture and also makes the picture come to life. Think about the picture you are about to take and then think if there is any prop that you can add to its background.
Props can range from a simple coffee mug to your favorite book. Want to really catch your Instagram audience’s attention? Try snapping a photo with your pet looking their cutest.
Check out this post for some good ideas for props to consider for your next Insta photo. Of course, make sure you don’t overdo it.
Instagram Photography Tip #6 – Pay extra attention to the background
When you snap a picture, the background can always make a huge difference. No matter how good you look in a selfie, if your room is dirty, you’re in a cluttered bathroom or the background is simply shabby, no one will like the photo.
Learn to figure out the perfect background based on the mood of the photo you plan to take. It should be interesting or something stunning that will compliment your face in the selfie.
If you’re taking photos in nature, be sure that the backdrop helps tell the story of where you are shooting.
One of my favorite photos from a recent trip to Iceland. You can see more of the journey here. The background certainly tells the story.
At the very, very least your background should never detract from the primary object of focus in the photo.
Instagram Photography Tip #7 – Be extra careful about zoom ins and zoom outs
To create a dramatic effect, some amateur photographers tend to overuse the zoom feature of the camera. Though zoom can be helpful in some of cases, you also have to be careful about how you use it.
After all, you don’t want to zoom in on a pimple (unless that is your intent….gross). On the other hand, you don’t want to zoom out so far that the object of the photo is hard to see.
Take several photos at differing zoom levels to find out what works best. Keep in mind that you can often use digital photo editing to zoom in….but it is much more difficult (and often impossible) to zoom and photo back out.
Instagram Photography Tip #8 – Always be on the lookout for a unique photo opportunity
There is no such rule that only a selfie or a good looking building is what people like to see. In reality, people prefer seeing pictures that have something unique about it. Something with personality. Something that is uniquely interesting.
That doesn’t mean that you can’t share your photo of a famous landmark or your pet. It just means that you have to find a way to make it unique. Make it something that isn’t just a repeat of what everyone else has already posted.
Find a way to make your photo uniquely…you. Your Instagram followers will appreciate it.
Instagram Photography Tip #9 – Make sure that the picture doesn’t look messy or cluttered
Generally any picture you take follows a certain theme. Any other object that doesn’t fit the theme is basically not needed in the photo and can detract from the primary object of photo.
Trust me…when you post that selfie in your bedroom, plenty of folks are going to zoom in and comment on whether your trash basket is full, if you have a half-eaten sandwich, or if your bra is hanging over the shower bar.
Before you click the button to take a photo, make sure there is no such clutter in the background to distract your audience. So take a few minutes and clear up the unwanted things before you take a picture.
Instagram Photography Tip #10 – Splurge for a high-quality camera or phone
It isn’t a requirement that you spend a lot for a camera or phone, but it sure helps…especially when it comes to the resolution of the camera. The higher the resolution, the more detail you will be able to show in your photos.
If you can afford it, spend some extra cash on a high-quality DSLR camera or a camera phone that has a high-resolution camera. The investment will be worth it as you start to share action-photos that have motion to them or nature photos with a multitude of deep colors.
The higher the resolution and quality of your camera, the better the photos will be.
What do you think? What Instagram photo tips do you have?
As I mentioned in the intro, these are my Instagram tips. I’d be really interested to hear what tips you have that might help others take great Insta-worthy photos.
Share your best tip in a comment and, if I add it to the post, I will be sure to give your Instagram handle a shout-out.