While some 300 million people actively use Instagram, there’s a much smaller portion of users who really, truly know how to take great photos and maximise their engagement rates on the photo sharing app.
We can learn a lot from the slew of professional photographers, bloggers and social influencers who use Instagram to share their holidays, their outfits, and even their lunches. The fact is, you don’t need a professional camera to take good pics for Instagram. You just need an iPhone, a good editing app (many of which are free) and a bit of know-how. Here are some top tips we’ve collated for taking better pics for Instagram, right from your iPhone:
Natural light is always best
And no amount of filtering or editing can hit the right note the way naturally lit photos do.
Don’t take your photos in Instagram
Many people with an impressive Instagram feed take (and then edit) their photos on a third-party app before uploading it to Instagram. Some popular apps include Snapseed, VSCO Cam and Photoshop Express, all of which are free and offer more advanced settings that let you adjust shutter speed, white balance and depth perception, which just isn’t possible to do on the iPhone camera.
VSCO Cam in particular is useful for colour correction, and Snapseed is good for removing shadows, which is particularly handy when taking photos of inanimate objects such as your lunch.
The clarity editing option on Instagram slightly improves iPhone photos but it’s best not to go overboard with it, and research has also shown that saturation effects can actually cause lower engagement rates than the original photo, so less really is more when it comes to editing your photos.
Use leading lines
You can use leading lines in virtually any photo you take on the iPhone, because lines and angles are everywhere. The eye naturally follows lines when presented with an image, so use this to your advantage and position leading lines to draw your viewers’ eyes to a certain element in the photo. Note that leading lines aren’t always straight – they can be curved, horizontal or vertical. Your leading lines can converge (as tunnels do), or they can be diagonal, like train tracks. Work out what you want to draw your viewers’ attention to, and then compose your image based on how you can most effectively draw their eyes to this element.
Experiment with the rule of thirds
The rule of thirds assists you in creating balanced images, which are naturally more aesthetically pleasing. By adhering to the rule of thirds, you will naturally avoid placing your subject right in the centre of the frame or dividing a photo exactly in half with a horizontal line. In square images, try keeping your subject towards the edge of the frame, particularly if it’s quite small, such as a person in the distance.
As always, rules are made to be broken, so don’t feel like you need to apply the rule of thirds to every photo you take. Sometimes symmetry is more effective, such as when taking photos of buildings. Symmetry is also very powerful in square photos.
Take your photos at different angles
Those pics of people’s meals that go viral on social media are often as a result of the photographer standing up on their chair and taking a top-down photo. Don’t be afraid to take your photos from different angles to show different textures, shades or shapes. Take the same photo from various angles to see which end-result has the most impact.
Empty space is not the enemy
Don’t be afraid of empty space, as it gives your subjects more room to stand out. Negative space works really well in square photos, which is Instagram’s default.
Practice, practice, practice
Behind every flawless Instagram photo is another five that didn’t quite hit the mark. The best way to get beautiful photos is to practice different techniques and to pick your favourite from each batch.