Unless you have been in a technology bunker for the last decade, you have probably heard of Instagram. It is the social media platform that allows photos (and videos) to be shared with the world. There are now professional Instagram photographers and influencers who only work with this social media platform. Whether you are a professional or amateur there is no doubt that Instagram gives you a great platform to promote yourself and your work. But to do so you need to have great pictures, so here are 8 tips to help you capture stunning Instagram photos.
Don’t use Instagram
Even though you are potentially taking photos for Instagram, you should avoid actually using Instagram to take photos. This is because the camera on your phone will take much better photos than the Instagram app. But remember that you don’t necessarily need to just take photos with a smartphone for Instagram. These days a lot of mirrorless, DSLR and some point and shoot camera all offer WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity with your phone. So you can take the photos with one of these and then post onto Instagram.
Take photos, not snaps
Often one of the biggest issues people face when photographing for Instagram is that they forget that they are still taking a photo. What I mean by that is that the same level of consideration, care and composition just goes out of the window. Even if you are taking a photo with a smartphone you should still treat it as if it is a camera. So instead of rushing and snapping away take your time and compose your photo properly. Give it more thought and consideration and you will notice an improvement in your photos.
Compose for Instagram
One of the key considerations for photographers is to ensure you capture photos for the medium and format they will be used in. For example, if you are photographing a horizontal image it’s unlikely that it will be used as a front cover. Or in food photography very rarely will you see a double page spread of one image (it will usually be a single page verticle shot). So as a photographer, you have to compose your shot to work within these boundaries. Instagram is no exception. So whilst an epic panoramic shot might look stunning on the wall as a print, on Instagram, it won’t have the same impact. The best types of photos on Instagram work as a square format so try to capture your shots with this in mind.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use photos that you have taken on a traditional camera. Just remember to crop it for the Instagram layout, which might mean some photos won’t work.
Get your focus right
Smartphones have come a long way in the last 15 years. But they are still some way short of the human eye when it comes to photography. This means they can still make mistakes like when focusing. It’s so tempting to just hold up the smartphone and take the photo without any consideration as to where the focus is. So if you want to ensure that your photos will look great on Instagram, make sure that you are checking and selecting where you want the focus to be.
Aim for natural light
Most photographers who work outdoors would prefer to use natural light. This is no different when taking photos to post on Instagram. Aim to use natural light wherever possible rather than using a flash. In most situations, all a smartphone flash will do is wash the photo out. Look to capture photos early morning and late afternoon when the light is at its softest. The best way to improve your photography is to learn what light is ideal for which scenario. For example on cloudy days taking portraits or photographing food will mean you have less harsh shadows to deal with. So if you really want to see an improvement in your photos, learn about light.
Don’t zoom in, get closer
Whether you are taking photos with a smartphone or latest DSLR, if you really want to capture intimate and candid moments you will need to get closer. Obviously, there are times when you need to be further away for safety reasons. No one is saying you should stick your camera in a crocodiles mouth, but for example, if you are photographing a person, don’t do it from across the road. Get closer to the action and you will see a huge improvement in your photos. Most people stay back and zoom in because they are shy rather than because that is the composition that they want.
Edit your photos
Even if it is for personal use, most people will edit their photos in some sort of post-processing software. This might just be basic brightness and contrast to more extensive retouching. Whether you are a purist and don’t want to alter your image in any way, or you have no problem doing it, you should still make that photo the best it can be. Even if it is just on Instagram go through the same process as you would do if it was a photo taken on a DSLR. If needed make adjustments and don’t feel just because it is taken for Instagram you should forego this. Just remember to keep any post-processing subtle and don’t over process your images.
Your own style
There are so many different opinions out there, none more so than on social media. But the only thing that should really matter is what you like and what you want to do. So don’t get hung up on likes or other people’s photos. Discover your own style and keep your photos consistent with what you enjoy doing. Your Instagram photos should be a representation of your creativity and your view of the world.
Instagram is a great way to promote your work and build connections. But there are so many great accounts out there (and even more poor ones). If you want your Instagram photos to look outstanding then you have to be prepared to treat it like any other photographic process. Over time with practice, you will become better but don’t be afraid to experiment and make mistakes. Because you never know what you will discover.
Photo credits: Kav Dadfar – All rights reserved. No usage without permission. Dreamstime.