Taking Better Instagram Photos Come Down to Photography Basics
Building a brand voice on Instagram is a fun experiment, taking awesome pics for Instagram is even more fun.
Reading time: 5 minutes
These Instagram photography tips originate from a LinkedIn slideshow by Gramforacause, a community of nonprofits and Instagrammers that use their following to tell stories and create change through photography. I highly suggest checking them out - they're doing some truly amazing things and taking awesome pics for Instagram! My eye for photography up to this point has been mostly just instinct, but after going through their content I'm 100% certain I'll be making some habit changes.
Tip 1: Chase down natural lighting.
Obviously you should try going after the sunset or sunrise for optimal natural lighting, but any amount of sun will do! Natural lighting is a lot of fun to work with, but be sure to turn off the flash. Tilt your phone around, move around your subject and see how it highlights the details you're trying to capture and/or how it changes the mood of the photo.
There's no magic formula and no right or wrong way to use natural lighting. It's a great way to express yourself, no matter your skill level in photography. Sometiems you'll want less light to highlight your subject and other times you'll want that ver bright, washed-out streak of sun.
For inspiration, you can browse the #ChasingLight feed.
Tip 2: Watch your tone.
Consider how the different tones in your photo come together as one. Building a strong brand image starts with asking yourself these questions: "What are 3 words you would use to define your mission and core values?". "Who is your audience?". "What feelings do you want to convey?".
Cool hues likee blue, white and green are associated with soothing vibes while conveying balance, loyalty and trust
Warm hues like red, orange and yelllow are associated with power, confidence, optimism and energy.
Try to play around with both types of hues and you'll find new ways to make your photos pop. Use these as examples of how to make the subject recede into the background or stand out in the foreground.
Tip 3: Twos and threes.
Geometry. Look around for patterns and naturally occuring repitions. Frames, lines, fractals. This is the fundamental thought process behind the 'rule of thirds'.
Repetitions help build balance and are easy on the eyes. Grouping and neat organization can be used to lead the eye to a particular subject. Use @ninjanellephant's bottom right image as an example. See how the bottom right hand corner pulls your eyes into the distance? This is known as a 'vanishing point'.
You can browse the #symmetry feed for inspiration.
Tip 4: Less is more.
Experiment with busy vs minimal photography styles. Who knows which your audience prefers? Mine likes a mix of the two, but leans towards minimalism, but I had no idea until I tested it out.
Being minimal doesn't mean less detail, it actually just puts a stronger focus on certain details. These four images use what we call 'negative space' in completely different ways. They also use The Rule of Thirds, aligning the subject within a three part grid.
Minimalism can be very powerful when capturing nature, showing off scale and unique locations. Keep this in your back pocket when you're out and you'll be taking awesome pics for Instagram in no time!
You can browse the #MindTheMinimal feed for inspiration.
Tip 5: Flat lay.
Food, beauty and lifestyle photographers eat this shit up. The flat lay shot is a great way to switch up your feed. It's interesting that this is a change of regular perspective considering it's how we carry our phones all the time by default. Shotting from above gives a new perspective of your subject that's often out of mind.
The flat lay shot is absolutely perfect for capturing products and food. I'm a fan of using it to show off books I'm reading alongside a meal like @ajfernando has done in the bottom left here.
You can browse the #FlatLay feed for inspiration.
Tip 6: Depth of field.
Blurring depth of field is a common camera trick that instantly elevates a photo. Look at what fashion photographer @lordashbury has done with this portrait in the top left. The brick wall is blurred in the background, while the soft colors and lighting set the mood. The model's blue eyes really pop out of the blurred background and your eyes are instantly drawn to her outfit.
You can browse the #DepthOfField feed for inspiration.