The Complete Guide to Taking Better Instagram Photos
Do you suffer from the following ailments:
- Out of focus photos and over-exposed nightmares
- Not knowing what to do with your hands
- Strangers taking awful pictures of you
- Dull IG photo edits
You’ve come to the right place.
Today, this post is going to teach you how to improve your Instagram photos.
The best part? A fancy DSLR camera is optional.
Here are some photography tips and tricks that will have you snapping masterpieces in no time.
Those bad pics? They’ll stay firmly in your past where they belong.
Posing ideas for Instagram
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Island Living 🏝️ On the second day of our trip we decided to take a boat to one of the islands near Athens. I really wanted to see the other side of Greece that I had always pictured – crystal clear waters and rugged beaches 🇬🇷 We sailed to Agistri, which I chose because it was one of the more secluded islands on the list. While there, we stumbled upon this beautiful church which looked like it had just fallen here from Santorini 💙 This is the Church of Agioi Anargyroi – one of the most photographed spots in Agistri, however all the churches on the island are equally stunning. When we went, the area was near deserted, yet the weather was still absolutely beautiful, so it’s definitely worth the visit at this time of year! Have you ever visited any of the Greek islands? #missjordantravels ⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀⠀ This photo was taken on a press trip with @brb.travel Skirt gifted from @chicwish
Do you feel like a deer caught in the headlights when it comes to posing for Instagram? Do you internally freak out about how to smile and look “natural”?
The easiest way to avoid all of the above is to use movement in your photos. With a flick of your hair, a twirl of your dress, or simply walking away from the camera, you’ll instantly capture a candid moment.
Get creative with props
Tip: Use burst mode on your smartphone to capture as much movement as possible. For DSLR cameras, adjust your settings to a faster shutter speed and turn on continuous mode to avoid any motion blur.
Put a stop to your hands looking awkward AF in your photos by using a prop. It’s as simple as bringing along a cute hat, a bunch of flowers, or even a delicious ice cream.
There are tons of Instagram prop ideas that will help you add another dimension to your photos and help you tell a more intriguing story.
Have a good chuckle
If you’re battling to look more natural in your self-portraits and you want to channel less Kristen Stewart and more Beyonce, laughter is the best ailment.
Find something that makes you laugh. Think about your cat getting high on catnip or your favorite Trevor Noah joke.
A genuine smirk, chuckle or giggle will translate 10x better in photos.
Fix your posture
Good posture can make or break your Instagram photos. Push your shoulders back, hold your head high, stand up straight, and use your body to create lines.
You’ll instantly look more confident in your pics (even if you feel like jello on the inside).
Get the right equipment
Planning a solo sojourn through Europe in the summer? Or maybe you want to stock up on pics around the city, but none of your friends are keen?
Then, you’ll need to invest a bit of coin into getting the right equipment.
Thankfully, you only need a couple of dollars to become a whiz at taking better Instagram photos.
A tripod is an absolute essential in any Instagrammer’s kit. It gives you the freedom to set up a shot anywhere (without having to find a rock to balance your camera on).
There are tripods for every price point, making it an affordable investment whether you’re shooting on iPhone or a DSLR.
A self-timer remote is another necessity that will make it that much easier to snap the perfect pic when no one else is around. It’s a small device that lets you trigger your camera’s shutter without having to push a button.
Say goodbye to trying to run into frame before 10 seconds is up!
Use your camera’s app
The newer DSLR models that have Wi-Fi are game-changers for Instagrammers. All you need to do is download the camera’s app, and you’ll be able to set up the shot, control the focus, zoom, and trigger the shutter with a tap of your finger.
It will save you so much time, and you no longer have to run back and forth between your tripod.
Tips for taking IG photos
Shoot in the morning
Taking photos (especially by yourself) in public places is daunting. With hordes of people everywhere, even the best of us start to feel self-conscious.
The best way to avoid all of this stress is to get up early and shoot in the morning. Not only is the light magical, but you won’t have to spot remove other people from your shot.
It’s a win-win!
Practice your go-to poses
In the moment, it’s sometimes tough to come up with good poses for photos (unless you’re Kendall Jenner). Avoid drawing blanks by practicing some go-to poses in the mirror.
It will help you figure out which poses accentuate your figure and how to create lines with your body. Play around with crossing your legs, popping out your hips, tilting your head, and angling your face.
Plan your shots
Before you start shooting for your Instagram feed, you need to do a bit of preparation.
If you’re traveling to Paris, spend some time on the ‘gram and create a collection of photos taken in the same place. Use it as inspiration for what angles you like, what props to bring, and the best time of day to shoot.
Take vertical photos
On Instagram, you can upload horizontal, square, and vertical photos. But if you look at the most successful accounts on the ‘gram, you’ll notice that the majority only upload vertical pics.
It’s the highest-performing image size on Instagram. Shots that use the vertical dimensions of 4:5 outperform the others by 13%!
Make burst mode your best friend
Traveling alone? Burst mode is THE best Instagram husband out there.
All you need to is find a spot to take a photo and ask a stranger this:
“Would you mind taking my photo? All you need to do is hold in the shutter button while I move around.”
You’ll instantly have 50+ photos to choose from and a bunch of different angles to work with.
And it all took less than one minute.
Photography Tips That Will Instantly Improve Your Photos
Use the Rule of Thirds
The Rule of Thirds is the golden rule of photography. Start using it, and you’ll instantly start taking better photos for Instagram.
So how does it work?
Imagine a grid of nine blocks over your image. The most important aspects (like your subject) should be placed at the intersection of these gridlines.
For a photo that’s really going to rake up those likes, you want to place any lines within your photo on those gridlines as well.
By implementing this small trick into your photography repertoire, you’ll create more balanced images.
Tip: Most smartphones and DSLR cameras have the option to turn on gridlines!
Create leading lines
Want to add a sense of depth to your IG photos? Look for leading lines.
Lines help to draw the viewer’s eye into the scene, rather than away from it. You can use this rule of composition by looking for physical lines like fences or something more abstract, like shadows.
Take this photo by @karl_shakur as an example. The curve of the road helps to lead your eye from the bottom left all the way to the top of the picture.
Now, imagine if he had taken this photo from a different angle where you couldn’t see the curves. The image wouldn’t be as dynamic or interesting to look at.
Shoot at the right time of day
Without a doubt, the best time to take photos for Instagram is during golden hour. It’s the magical hour before sunrise and set.
The light is soft and golden, and you don’t need to worry about harsh shadows ruining your shot.
If you miss it, try to shoot on overcast days. The clouds make the light even, and you can shoot at 12PM without any hassles.
Always use natural light
Natural lighting is your best bet when it comes to taking better photos for Instagram. It’s a simple thing that will drastically improve the quality of your photos.
If your Instagram account is all about food, ask your server to seat you at a table by the window. When your delicious meal comes, you’ll have beautiful natural light that’s diffused through the window.
You can’t ask for better conditions!
How to Take Better Photos for Instagram Using Only Your Phone
Lock your camera app’s focus
Struggling with getting your phone’s expose just right? Tap on the spot you want to focus on and hold it until you see an “AE/AF Lock” feature appear.
You can use the slides to control how light or dark you want the image. Once you’re happy, let it go and get snapping!
Under-expose your shot
Now that you know how to fix your exposure problem with a simple tap, you’ll want to keep your shots slightly under-exposed.
You’ll retain more details that you can bring back when you raise the shadows and exposure when you start editing.
But if you shoot over-exposed, you’ll never get those details back, and you’ll get stuck with that awful white area on your phone forever.
Tip: You can apply the same rule when shooting with your DSLR!
Don’t use the zoom on your phone
Unless you’re lucky enough to have the latest iPhone with all it’s two optical zoom options, you’ll want to leave that zoom feature alone.
When you “zoom in” with a smartphone, it will turn your photo into a low-quality, pixelated mess.
How to Edit Your Photos
The quickest and easiest way to edit your photos for Instagram is to buy or create Adobe Lightroom Presets.
Adobe Lightroom is the best editing app on the market – and the mobile app is free!
Almost all the biggest ‘grammers have a Lightroom pack that you can buy (if you want to steal their style). There are also companies like 123 Presets which sell dozens of affordable preset packs!
Want to create your own presets but know nothing about Lightroom?
There are tons of YouTube videos that will teach you how to edit and what effects you can achieve with all the tools.
Ready to start taking better Instagram photos?
Your final step is to start practicing! Photography and crafting amazing IG photos isn’t a skill that you can conquer overnight.
It involves a lot of experimenting and plenty of trial and error.
So if the first couple of shots after reading this post don’t come out great, resist the urge to give up.
Keep practicing, and eventually, your shots will start improving!