7 Tips For Better Instagram Photos

If I’m being honest… there’s nothing *instant* about about my Instagram game. I know that a lot of you who are bloggers as well, can relate.

You won’t find me using my phone taking pictures of anything other than some really… REALLY random shit… or my dog, or Mark sleeping. I’m creepy like that. Okay, so it’s mostly videos of him snoring which I collect as evidence, since he constantly argues that his snoring is “really not that bad” and that it’s “pretty much impossible” that it’s loud enough for me to wake up in the middle of the night. Well, it is possible, mind you. I’m a light sleeper, can’t help it.

BUT, this post has nothing to do with my marital distress, but everything to do with creating beautiful Instagram shots. So… let’s move on now, shall we?

In this photography post, I’ll share a few things that are a must for me when it comes to Instagram photos. If you follow me there, then you probably know that I mostly post beauty-related content, but these tips can be applied to anyone who wants to create bright, clear and sharp images.

LOOK FOR THE LIGHT

I think we can all agree that natural light, is the best light. Artificial light can work too- just take a look at @clickthisphoto on Instagram- but I rarely reach for my soft boxes or ring light, when taking Instagram shots. When taking your photos in natural light, the time of day will matter quite a bit. I, for instance, get the best light in the morning, right around 10.00 am and if I can, that’s the time I prefer to take my Instagram and blog photos. At that particular time, I get the most beautiful, bright, even light coming in through my glass door leading to the backyard. Around 12 o’clock, the sunlight gets very harsh and I end up with a ton of shadows in my shots, which you can totally make work for you, too. Once all the trees in my backyard start to leaf out, the lighting will change once again.

wasy-to-practice-self-care

Taken at around 10.30 am

Taken in the afternoon

So, as you can see, results of working with natural light will depend on time of day, weather, time of year and your light source. What works very well for me, might not work as well for you. If you have yet to find it, look around your house/room/apartment for that *sweet spot* where you get the best light; it can be by a window, a window sill, your door. Remember that if you’re using manual settings on your camera, those need to change depending on your light source.

USE A REFLECTOR

You will not find a photo on this blog that has been taken without my reflector. I use it every single day; it helps out with bouncing off the light, evening out the light and minimizing shadows. I often get asked how to exactly use a reflector and where to place it- this, once again, depends on your light source and your setup or environment where you take your photos. Most of the time, I place mine right across from my light source. To find the best spot to place it, move it around, while paying attention to your setup and see what brightens or evens out the light in  your photo best.

USE A STEADY HAND

I personally don’t like using my phone for taking Instagram photos and usually stick to my Canon. That’s because I’m very particular about the way I want my images to look, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t get beautiful shots when using your phone. I really don’t think that you need an expensive camera to have a gorgeous Instagram feed. BUT, whichever you use- a DSLR, point and shoot or your phone, make sure that you use a steady hand so that your images are sharp. When using your camera, this is especially important when working with slow shutter. If you do use your phone, make sure that you allow your camera to focus, before taking your shot and do not zoom in, but instead try getting closer to your subject.

EDIT

Because I shoot in RAW, I always edit my photos. I like to get the highest quality possible, which is why I like working with RAW files- they preserve more detail and give you a lot more room to work with when editing them. Regardless of what kind of camera you use, I definitely think that a little editing can go a long way. The key is to not overdo it. Most of my photos are edited in Photoshop – I have a few posts on how I edit my photos, you can find them here– but I actually really like the Instagram editing tools as well. Some settings that I like to adjust are brightness, shadows and structure. If your photos come off a bit too blue or too yellow, you can also play around with warmth which will help you adjust the white balance. When I don’t have a lot of time to edit, I also use Beauty Cam. It’s actually a selfie-butifying (lol) app that I sometimes use to edit my flatlays. Most of the time I just use the *Auto* setting and set it to *Slight* – it brightens the photo and reduces the noise, which comes in handy especially if you photograph a lot of makeup products.

It is very very important that you don’t over-edit your images (which is easy to do). I think that one of the most important things to focus on is white balance. You don’t want your shots to be too warm or too cool.

PLAY AROUND WITH ANGLES

Playing around with angles is a great way to find your own style and add a unique touch to your shots. Flatlays are great, but it’s nice to switch things up a bit sometimes and try something new, a different perspective. You can still add some depth to your pictures, even while shooting from above; just tilt your phone or camera a bit.

TO THEME OR NOT TO THEME?

When it comes to running a blog and growing your social media accounts, there is an abundance of tips and advice out there. I only share these tips as a way of answering all the questions I get on daily basis about both blogging and photography. I’m not telling you that there’s a right or wrong way of doing something. Someone recently asked me if they should *theme* their Instagram account and these are the kinds of questions I can’t answer. I think that this is something that depends on you, your blog (if you have one) and the type of content you create. One thing I will say though: consistency is always a great idea. Try to keep the style of your Instagram photos the same or at least similar to what you post on your blog (if you’re a blogger). I personally get way too bored to have a *theme* and while I style and edit all of my photos in a similar way, I don’t necessarily stick to the same exact background or setup and I don’t intentionally *theme* my feed.

 My last tip for a better Instagram feed? Don’t obsess about it too much. Seriously. Having a pretty Instagram feed is nice, but only if and when you’re having fun. Once you start obsessing about it, it can be draining and exhausting. Your photos don’t have to be perfect, they don’t have to look similar to anyone else’s. Consistency and engaging community are far more important than an absolutely flawless feed.


  • I hear you about theming! I often get so caught up in theming my account that I would refuse to post beautiful shots just because they wouldn’t go well with the rest of the content :(

    • I get caught up in that too. Sometimes I want to share a really cool product but think that it won’t fit with other content I post. It seems so silly haha! :)

      • Nikola Hessová

        Same here :D

      • Yep, pretty much that! Lately I started harboring an idea to only feature products that are packaged according to a certain aesthetic. Ladies, we have arrived! :)

  • I use the Whiten function on Face Tune to brighten my flatlay background. I feel so silly doing so many steps to get the right image, but it’s fun doing that!

    Advaita | Blush Canvas

  • Nikola Hessová

    Ok, I have a lot to say about this topic :D So sorry for my long reaction :D

    I´ve been struggling with *theme* from the beginning. I would love to have ONLY underexposed photos, or undersaturated, or just really bright and white, or only with hint of some color. But when you are a beauty blogger you need to show proper colors of products. Every style I mentioned above is changing colors…that sucks. :( I could not take a shot of lipstick and have to write down someting like: “the real color is more dark and mauve-ish not this brigt, I just wanna have beautiful *theme* so a I changed colors, ya know girl” :D That´s crazy :D So the only way to have *theme* when you are a bb is having the same background. Which si boring to me. And when you want to mix it little bit with lifestyle pictures….pfff, so difficult. But It seem that *theme* is a THING…everybody is talking about it, that this is something which really matters when we are speaking about better engagement.

    Some tips I´ve found during last weeks on YT and blogs:

    – it is important that every one who visit you profile IMMEDIATELY know what is it about (beauty, fashion, model, photographer…)
    – stick to one theme – it is pleasant to watch it (all time favourite is bright and white one)
    – use content planning app (Planoly, Preview…) and see if one photo go well with other around
    – if there is a something distracting in background on your photo (some spot of color which do not go well whith your other content) just desaturated this spot (great app for it is Snapseed which is the best app for editing anyway guys)
    – if you are for instance on great vacation and normally you do only bb things, or fashion things in proper theme, it is obvious that it will not stick to your content, BUT you can post anyway, but go for 3 9 or 12 frames
    – if you wanna change *theme* it is better to do it slowly (for instance slowly desaturated your image)
    – If you have white/bright image and you get shot of something really colorfull but you wanna post it anywa – just do a black/white version of it

    Hope that this will help someone ;) and sorry for my baby english :D

    • So many awesome tips here Nikol, thank you SO much for sharing all of these! I don’t love following all theme accounts if they seem too “samey” I think it can get boring but consistency is definitely a key and I agree that people should be able to immediately tell what your account is all about- such a great reminder.

      Your English is perfect girly!! :) Thanks again for sharing all these wonderful tips!

  • I could never theme my account, I think it would kill all the joy I have in my Instagram account :)

  • Brilliant post, as always, Paula . Your photos are ALWAYS amazing there are so many great tips here xx

    Beautylymin

  • Great tips! I love to use a reflector when taking photos, it makes such a difference! x

    http://www.bymillie.co.uk
    http://www.bymillie.co.uk

  • Your photography is always amazing and there’s so much to learn from you :) Thank you so much for sharing your tips! I really suck at being steady, that’s why most of the time I use the tripod and with it, it is hard to get a flat lay photo, I need to get some tools to convert it. Hopefully the light will get better so it would be easier to take brighter photos. Shadowy photos look different and cool, I actually like them.
    Have a great weekend :)

    Ela BellaWorld

    • Aw thank you so much Ela! So happy you found this helpful. Shadows definitely grew on me during the last recent months!

  • Paula, your tips are so clear and nice. Thanks to you I learned how to take flat lays and make themed pictures for my blog. And my boyfriend snores to and says the same thing but recently I made a video of him waking me up to show him evidence. haha Check my post, you got featured :)

    https://mihabalan.com/2017/03/16/downsize-stress-live-life-free/

  • Great tips! Thanks for sharing! I am obsessed with your photography!! It is so pretty!
    -Maddy
    Cheers-Maddy.com

  • Love all the photography tips you give! They’re so helpful <3

    https://busybeeblogweb.wordpress.com

  • Love all the photography tips you give! They’re so useful- thanks for sharing <3

    https://busybeeblogweb.wordpress.com

  • I feel like themes are a must for a good instagram!! <3 Thanks for sharing! :)

    http://www.jasminesecret.com

  • Your photos are always so beautiful! I find that natural light makes the BIGGEST difference and really effects the quality of a photo – definitely makes things a little difficult during gloomy/grey days haha ♥

    Amy // Snippets of Amy

  • Natalie Redman

    Need to get myself a reflector!

    http://www.upyourvlog.com

  • These are great tips. Your photography is always fantastic. I haven’t done a ton of product shots myself, but these are helpful tips I can practice for the future. I don’t theme my photos either. I find Instagram is great for on the go and quick editing. I like it for that reason.

    astylishlovestory.blogspot.com

  • Very good and useful tips! I love your photos!

  • Ana

    Thank you for these tips! I will try to apply them to have a more beautiful Instagram feed ;) xxx
    http://fallingforablog.blogspot.com.es/2017/03/12-spring-must-haves.html

  • Paula, you babe! Thank you SO so much, I really needed this! :)
    Jemma | DORKFACE

  • Great post, I always learn so much when I visit your blog, for instance, I had no idea what in the holy hell a reflector was until reading this and googling extensively. I think you just changed my life. Playing around is definitely the best advice I have ever gotten, for the longest time I would try to avoid all shadows in my flat lays and then I stumbled across a photo on Instagram where the shadows were exaggerated and it just looked so cool. Light can be manipulated in so many ways, it’s really fun once you stop obsessing and stop searching for the same thing in each photo, if that makes sense. Thanks for sharing Paula xx

    ALittleKiran | Bloglovin

    • Kiran, I am so happy to hear that! A reflector makes such a big difference! I love playing with light, it’s so nice to switch things up a bit!

  • I always love your photos and these are some great tips! I rarely reach for my soft boxes so I always try to shoot on the weekends in the morning. I’ve been taking some photos on my phone lately, which I never used to do, so Instagram has been more instant for me lately haha, but I usually stick to my DSLR as well. It’s just so much easier for me.

    xx
    Nida | Caked To The Nines

  • I’d never have thought to use a reflector! Annnd I get too bored quickly for a theme too xx

  • There’s nothing instant about instagram lol love it. It’s so true. I finally, finally started using my DSRL for my blog pictures but I’m having a bit of a white balance problem going. I could just go back to my point and shoot, but I feel like it’s similar to always using maps of your phone to go places. If I don’t stop using my phone for directions, I’ll never learn how to get anywhere. Anyways, sometimes I miss the days when I just posted whatever the heck I wanted on Instagram. Now every single picture is planned and thought out. Even the time of day has become a factor. #bloggerprobs

    – Claudia

    http://www.justalittleblush.com/

    • Haha :) I sometimes come across WB issues too, and when that happens I just fix it when processing my images in Photoshop. Haha yes- once you become a blogger there’s definitely more planning involved!

  • Really fab to see other peoples tips for instagram, i totally agree with the shoot on raw & edit points, I too do this as it;s in keeping with my photography style :)

    Mel x

    http://mediamarmalade.com

  • Thank you Love! You can definitely take nice images with your phone these days-just took a look at your Instagram, they look beautiful!