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?