Anyone else have a love/hate relationship with Instagram?
It’s definitely my favorite social media platform because of how streamlined and simple it is, but as it becomes more professionalized, it also seemingly becomes less authentic. I’m guilty of the “staged” shots too, but for better or for worse, it looks like Instagram is here to stay. Despite these downfalls, I do enjoy curating content for my Instagram, so I thought today I would share my top five tips for taking better Instagram photos:
1. MAKE UP RULES APPLY WHEN IT COMES TO EDITING: LESS IS MORE.
I used to be the biggest over-filterer on the planet. Does that scenic landscape shot need a Rise filter? You bet. Does that picture of my drinks and guac at happy hour look better in Mayfair? Duh.
Now, I take a different approach to editing my photos and use the tools that are embedded in the application. With each update, it seems like Instagram adds more of these basic tools, so I find no need to download a photo-editing app (although, if you’re looking for one, I’ve heard great things about Snapseed. I try to avoid yellow tones where possible by turning down the warmth, and then usually play around with the brightness, highlights, shadows, and saturation to essentially create a slightly better version of the picture I already took. I want my photos to look realistic, not like they met the photo-editing equivalent of auto tune.
Pro tip—for those of you that have Adobe Creative Cloud and are looking for a dedicated photo-imaging mobile program, you can download their Lightroom and Photoshop apps.
2. DON’T ZOOM. JUST DON’T DO IT.
When taking pictures on your iPhone camera, move your body instead of zooming to get the image you want. By taking photos at the distance you envision the final product to be, you don’t run the risk of having your image look grainy or pixelated.
When I know I want to post a picture to Instagram, I usually take it in square mode on my camera so that I can control the final cropping from the onset. Plus, it helps you see everything in your frame which brings us to point number three…
3. TAKE TIME FRAMING YOUR IMAGE.
Alright, alright—”staged” photos are what give Instagram a bad rap, but they really do help to grow your Instagram following. I usually take a few minutes to set up the shot and make sure I have everything the way I want it.
I also try to create as much visual interest as possible in my photo. Sometimes that means picking a unique angle that isn’t immediately obvious, zooming in closer—with your body, remember!—to an object than is expected, or adding another detail of some sort—for instance, fun bedazzled shoes or sunglasses.
You guys—this is definitely the “artistic” part of the process. Just ask Monica, when I don’t have a vision for the Instagram…it just isn’t happening. (#diva, I know.)
4. COLOR COUNTS.
No one wants to look at a picture of brown bread on a brown wood table, so definitely introduce color where you can. Studies show that Instagrams with blue hues as opposed to red hues get more likes. Instagrams with a solid amount of white space also are well-received.
I tend to favor bright colors in all of my photos, but curating a select color, such as blue like Amy Stone does, is another way to approach color.
And the last thing I’ll say about color is that natural light is key. Sometimes you can get away with a good nighttime shot, but most of the time, shooting outside or in direct sunlight, especially during “golden hour,” is key to taking an okay photo to a great one.
5. TIMING IS EVERYTHING.
Timing is usually a b*tch they say, and Instagram is no different. I love using Iconosquare to figure out when my followers are most active, and try to post around those times.
Generally, during the week that means before people go to work (7-8 am) and after hours (7-9 pm). I’ve also found that people check into social media during lunch, so sometimes I’ll post then if it’s relevant—i.e. food!. On weekends people seem to be active at all times, so I generally just post when I have an image I want to post.
Other than that, I generally try to get a few “Instagrammable” shots during each outfit shoot that I can easily crop into a square to keep my fix a good mixture of on-the-blog and off-the-blog content. Since my blog is so public-facing, I generally try not to post pictures of me with other people unless I know they are okay with being featured.
So, now I’d love to know: what are your tips for taking better Instagram photos?
Awesome tips, friend! Instagram is totally your thing. All about that vision…. 🙂
Aw thanks M! xo
I always have to remember to turn the brightness on my screen up when I’m editing pictures. It makes such a difference!
Also the lightroom app for iPhone is my jam. Great recommendation!
I know, it really does! So glad it worked out for you :]
I love instagram! These are some great tips!
Glad they were helpful! xo
Thanks for sharing these tips. My IG skills are definitely improving.
Glad they were helpful lady! xo
Love all your points. I used to just post with a few edits but then I was told to use the Instasize app that makes the images smaller. Not sure I like the look so have given up on that one now. Its fun to experiment with what works, and what doesn’t. I must say my pet peeve is the user who suddenly floods my stream with 10 photos from the same event, that feels almost spammy? Just my two cents 🙂 Happy hump day
I completely agree! I have done a few different things, and it is fun to figure out what your Instagram “style” is. Completely agree – Kim Kardashian is SO guilty of posting 10 in a row and it drives me crazy!
These are some epic tips! I love to take bright pictures and also make sure to line them up!
Love those tips! Thanks lady.
Great tips, and your photos look great!
I totally agree that it’s getting more “professionalized”! Now I feel like I need to spend time setting up separate photo shoots JUST for IG material instead of living my life normally and sharing what’s happening. :/ I appreciate the artistry that other posters put into their pics but sometimes it’s a little (lot) daunting and intimidating.
I also do the square photo thing – it makes it so much easier to know what your finished snap will look like! 🙂
I completely agree – it’s another medium we have to curate content for! I think your feed is SO awesome though so just keep doing whatever you’re doing.
I LOVE these tips. I noticed a complete difference when I went from the iPhone 5, to the 6. It’s crazy how fast technology changes!
So glad you enjoyed them! I really did too – it made taking pictures on my phone for IG A LOT easier.
These are such great tips! Thank you for sharing!
So glad you enjoyed them!
This post was so helpful, thank you! I use Adobe Creative Cloud but have never used Lightroom so I’m going to check that out, as well as look into how to see when my followers are active using Icon Square. I’m really trying to beef up my Instagram and be more consistent about photo and color theme choices.
I am so glad you enjoyed it – definitely check out Lightroom. It makes editing photos so easy!
The thing that’s helped me most is taking care of atmosphere and lighting.
Completely agree! Great tip.
Great tips! Every now and then I hate instagram but I still use it all the time. Visiting your blog via Blog Love.
Thanks Kristin! Glad they were helpful tips.
These are super helpful tips! I am a huge fan of Instagram, moreso because I love taking pictures and love the visual aspect of it. I don’t have an ultra-huge following, so this is something I’m working on.
I’m not the greatest with taking pictures and I’m pretty impatient and spontaneous, so I know I need to put a little more time and effort into staging and pretty-fying my pictures. I was hoping I could get away with taking awful photos and just telling people it was me keepin’ it real 😉 But that hasn’t proved to be very successful haha.
I am so glad they were so helpful! I love the visual aspect of it too and developing a unique style. And sometimes a keepin’ it real photo really stands out! xo
I’ve noticed that a lot of people are going #nofilter these days, so I’ve been downplaying my use of them as well. I do love the look of a “matte” photo though, so I still find myself adding one that warms up my image and makes the blacks look matte.
That’ interesting that blue hues are more well received on IG than red. I’ll have to experiment with that!
Yeah! I think when filters were new they were all the rage, but now it’s important to use them sparingly. I love the idea of creating a “matte” photo – had never really thought about that before now. Will have to give it a whirl! xo
Obsessed with that lemon shot. The bowl, the yellow…gorge.
Thanks girl! Taken in the aisles at Target…
love this post! I’m currently debating between bringing my insta to an overall “theme”, like similar colors and edits for every post, or continue what I’m currently doing (which is basically all over the place) and I really can’t stick to one theme- its harder than it looks! xx, kenz
Right? These are things I wonder about too! It’s way harder than it looks to stick to just to one color! I like them all.
Loved these tips! I’m such a perfectionist myself that I usually take a LOT of photos before I pick one that I decide to upload. My poor iphone storage space! *sigh* Loved your point about less is more 🙂
Strum Simmer Sip
So glad these tips were helpful! I take a lot of pictures too :]
Great tips, Katie! Love this post! All of your suggestions are right on point!
The Closet by Christie
So glad you enjoyed it!
These tips are so helpful, as I am working really hard to increase my Insta following. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂
XX, SS || A Little Seersucker Sass
So glad they were helpful! xo
I’m with you – I feel like people’s Instagram feeds are looking more and more professional these days. My iPhone and I just can’t compete sometimes haha. Thanks for the tips!
Could not agree more!
Such great tips! I need to look at Iconosquare to find out when my followers are most active – I usually try to post during those same times but weekends are a challenge for me!
Me too! It’s hard to figure out what that “sweet spot” is!
This is a great post! I’m definitely guilty of over editing photos at times & really want to revamp my Instagram. Hopefully these tips really work in my benefit & make my page look a million times better. Awesome job girly! xoxo
The Budget Divaa │ http://www.thebudgetdivaa.com
Yeah! You can revamp it one picture at a time! Good luck! xo
TRUE and AMEN to all of the above! I’ve found it to be enormously helpful to just always have Instagram in mind, too, so that during any photoshoot or photographable moment, you’re ready in Square and can get some great shots. Plus, less is definitely more nowadays!
I could not agree more that having Instagram in mind when taking pics is key!
These are some great tips and ones I will definitely be putting into consideration.
Thanks for sharing lovely 🙂
So glad they were helpful! xo
Great tips and I definitely agree about over editing and the color aspects!
So glad you agree! xo
Great tips, Katie! Wow, I should download that app cause I just assumed that posting during 10am-12pm, and 5-7pm were good times but I should really get down to the real analytics! Btw, LOVE that popsicle shoe shot!