Do you wish your Instagram feed looked slicker and more professional? Learning to improve the way you compose, take and post your images can go a long way towards achieving this.
Hopefully, the tips in this article will help you get your photos ‘gram ready in no time. The ideas are written with smartphone photography in mind, but if you’re lucky enough to have a digital camera you can apply them to that as well.
1: Keep It Simple
Often, the best images are the simplest ones. Don’t waste your time setting up elaborate photographs with lots of things in them. Too many things in the image dilutes the impact and takes attention away from your main subject. Choose to focus on one thing, and your images will be much stronger for it.
2: Work the Angles
Most people will shoot an image straight on, from chest or head height. That’s ok, but sometimes you want your images to stand out from the crowd. Try shooting slightly to the side, above and below your subject. Take a shot, then move to a different angle or position. Every time you get a shot, move.
Take a tip from fashion photographers – if you are shooting a person half or full length, the most flattering angle is to shoot at their waist height, even if that means sitting down to do it. This helps to avoid body distortion and looks more natural.
Take lots of photos of your subject, then you will have a wide selection of images to choose the best one from.
3: Try to Create a Story
A lot of the most interesting images on Instagram tell a story or say something to us without words. It may seem hard to think of something creative, but it doesn’t have to be a Steven Spielberg epic – remember the first tip? Keep it simple…
You could try and capture an emotion, an event, or use objects in the image to make people curious. A person blowing bubbles on a sunny day has a totally different emotional feel to someone standing alone at dusk in winter. Use this to get your point across.
Alternatively, you could do a short series of photos telling a story – beginning, middle and end. A journey is a story, however short it may be. Get creative – look at Instagram images you love, and see if you can work out the story or mood contained in them.
4: Check Your Composition
Composition in photography is the way you place your subject in the frame in relation to other objects in the image and the edges of the photograph itself.
A well-composed shot will draw your viewer’s eye, and all the elements of the image are harmonious – there is nothing to jar your attention from the main subject.
If you are using a digital camera, you can adjust your depth of field to give a pleasingly blurred background with your subject in sharp focus.
Check that there is nothing directly behind your subject, such as a lamp post or tree. There is nothing more distracting than a tree or post growing out the top of someone’s head!
Try to fill the frame with your subject. Don’t have them tiny in the middle of a vast space, unless you are going for a negative space composition like the image above. (I’ll cover negative space later in the article.)
You can use the grid feature on your phone or camera to help you compose. If you place important parts of your subject (such as eyes or mouth) in the places where the grid lines intersect, you’ll be creating a strong composition.
5: Using Light and Shadows
You can create some great artistic effects using the available light and the shadows. Watch to see where shadows form over your subject and move them around to make interesting contrasts between light and dark. You could try placing your subject in deep shadow, so that light only falls on a particular feature such as their eyes or mouth. This is one time that midday shooting can be good, as the high sun casts very deep shadows.
If you shoot with the sun behind your subject, you can make some great silhouette images. If you’re shooting a person, get them to make a strong, angular pose.
6: Negative Space
Using negative space around your subject can really make a stunning image. It’s using the blank space surrounding something to enhance and add something extra to an image. It has to be well thought out, though, and you have to give careful thought to the placement of your subject in the empty space.
As the space is there to enhance the subject, neutral colors and black or white backgrounds make the best backgrounds. You can also use the sky, water and sand, building exteriors or textures as good backdrops for negative space. They’re not competing for attention with your subject, but they do enhance the image as a whole. Bright lights and distracting patterns often don’t work well as a negative space background.
7: Keep Your Style Consistent
It can get confusing to the viewer if you do all your images in bright, contrasty colors one week, then switch to muted, soft pastel style the next, with a side trip to whatever weird new ‘look’ is currently fashionable on Instagram.
It can take ages to find a photography and editing style you’re happy with and stick to it. At first, we all go a bit mad trying out different presets and photo styles with our editing. That’s perfectly natural, but what I’m saying is do your experimenting away from your Instagram feeds until you find a clean, simple yet killer look that you can apply to most of your images. You can try using not only Instagram filters, but also your phone’s editing abilities or even use desktop photo editors (like Luminar or Photoshop) before posting photo.
Keep your edits simple, and if you use an app like Instafit to fit your non-square images onto Instagram’s platform, stick to one neutral border color for all your images, like black, white or grey.
8: Don’t Post Just Because You Can
Only post your very best work to Instagram. You may have taken fifty different shots of your dinner that you think look cool, but there’s no need to spam everyone’s feed with them, when one well-thought-out image would gain far more attention.
If you take some time to go through your images from a shoot, you should be able to pick the very best one from it and use that single image. That is why you should photograph lots of images when you’re shooting, then you have plenty to choose from.
If you really cannot choose your best image, walk away for a few days, or at least a few hours, then come back and look at them with a fresh eye. You’ll now find it much easier to choose the best from the bunch.
Hopefully this article has inspired you to want to try some of the tips above next time you’re shooting photos for Instagram.
Finally, and most importantly, have fun finding new and creative ways to take your photographs!
This is a guest post.
About the author:
Max Therry is a 28-year old architect and has an immense passion for photography.
He can be reached on: firstname.lastname@example.org
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