7 tips for better Instagram photos
Today’s post is a fun one, and also one that’s been requested quite a few times by a lot of you.
Ever since the Photography category took off last year, I’ve been getting a lot of comments here and on my Instagram as well as emails, asking me for both Instagram and phone photography tips. Because I never use my phone for blog photography anymore, I wasn’t really sure how to go about doing a phone photography post. I do use my phone quite a lot when it comes to Instagram, so I thought that I would kill two birds with one stone (horrible metaphorical phrase by the way, why would anyone want to kill birds?).
The tips mentioned in this post can be applied to your phone photography even if you don’t have an Instagram account. Please keep in mind that most of these photos were taken with my phone, so they might not exactly be the usual blog-quality photos, but they do look great on Instagram.
1. GET NEAR A WINDOW
And if you happen to take your photos outside, even better. This is something that I always stress in my Photography posts, but I never get tired of repeating myself. Using even, natural light is crucial for great photos. This what my setup usually looks like:
As you can see, it’s pretty much the same as my blog photography setup. I shoot by the window on a bright surface and I also use a reflector to make sure that I eliminate as many shadows as possible, it also helps to brighten up the picture as well.
2. SHOOT IN SQUARE MODE
As you know, Instagram photos display as square tiles and that’s something you need to keep in mind, especially when you take pictures that you plan on posting later on. Sometimes, when cropping photos they can become blurry and not very sharp. To avoid blurry photos I either shoot in square mode, or I take a full-frame photo, but keeping in mind that I will crop it later on. Here’s an example:
3. DON’T USE THE INSTAGRAM APP TO TAKE PICTURES
Up until a few months a go, I wasn’t too active on Instagram and I basically used it as a mean of promoting my blog content. This means that most of the pictures that you saw on my Instagram account were also featured on the blog. This also means that I used my DSLR. Right now, I do use my phone here and there, but the truth is, the pictures taken with my Samsung aren’t as great as those taken with my Canon DSLR. Still, when I do use my phone, I rarely shoot pictures using the Instagram app. First of all, when you use the app, you can only take one photo at a time before you’re prompted to chose your filter, etc. This means a lot of going back and forth to get that perfect shot. I highly suggest using your phone’s camera, rather that using the Instagram app. It not only allows you to take multiple shots at once, but you can also change your settings and customize your photos a bit more.
4. TAKE A LOT OF PICTURES
This goes especially for those photos that we take whenever we go out. Whether you want to take a picture of a delicious salad you just had at your favorite place, or you want to snap a selfie of you and your bestie at a party, make sure to take a lot of pictures so that you have a lot to chose from. First, this leaves you with bigger chances of having that perfect shot, and second, you do not want to be that person that stops everyone from enjoying their night out, just because you NEED that perfect shot. I know people who are so crazy about constantly posting content on social media, that it really stops them from enjoying their lives. Whether you’re going out for a walk in a park, out to eat with your friend, or you’re planning on bar hopping all night, take a few pictures, post them whenever you get a chance, and don’t forget to enjoy your time out.
5. TRY TO KEEP STEADY
This is important for both DSLR and phone photography. Even the slightest movement can ruin a picture, so always make sure that your hands are steady. To make this easier you can lean against the wall, or rest your elbows on a flat surface when taking your pictures.
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6. CLEAN YOUR LENS
This might seem obvious, but if you take photos with your phone, it is crucial that you always wipe off your lens. We don’t even realize how many times a day we touch our phone, and if you wear makeup then you also know just how much foundation and other makeup products love to stick to the surface of your phone (although this happens only when you actually talk to someone on the phone and does anyone even do that anymore? :P ). Then, of course, there’s also sweat, your fingerprints and all that other stuff that isn’t very cute. Point is, always clean your lens before taking your pictures. This will help your images to be more crisp, clear and not blurry.
Now this, right here, is huge. Editing is a must, especially if like me, you’re a blogger and you really want your photos to be aesthetically pleasing. When using my DSLR, I always edit my photos using Photoshop (up until last year I used Picmonkey, you can see a few of my editing tutorials right here). Now, whenever I use my phone for taking pictures, I usually use a combo of both VSCO cam app and the Instagram app itself. In Photoshop, I always adjust things like contrast, brightness, sharpness, and shadows. Here’s how I edit my photos in my phone:
For the first three parts, I used VSCO Cam app. I used a HB1 Layer, then adjusted sharpness and highlights, sometimes I also play around with exposure. The next three steps are done in the Instagram app. I adjust the Lux effect, brightness and once again, highlights. I follow a similar process for all of my pictures.
To see an updated version of this post click here.