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.
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.
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.