Business & Marketing

How to Take Good Instagram Photos: The Complete Guide

Did you know that there are over 1.3 billion users on Instagram?

Of those, 500 million are active every day, making it one of the world’s most popular social media platforms! For Instagram, that’s great, but if you’re trying to get noticed on the platform, it’s not so great.

With so many other people constantly posting pictures, it takes a lot to make yours stand out, and if they’re anything but perfect, they might not get the attention you’re hoping for! Luckily, there is a light at the end of the tunnel; you can learn how to take good Instagram photos.

Read on to find out everything you need to know!

Choose Your Tools Wisely

When Instagram first launched way back in 2010, mobile phones lacked a high-quality camera. So expectations were set pretty low in terms of the images you were going to see on the app. A snap being pixelated, blurry, and a little off-color was totally normal!

Nowadays, though, that isn’t the case.

With incredible smartphone cameras widely available, other users expect to see super high-quality, sharp shots that are almost art gallery-worthy. That might sound like a challenge, but with the right camera, it’s a breeze. So, what kind should you get?

DSLR Camera

A DSLR camera is one that is only a camera – no smartphone attached! You’ve probably seen photographers using them before. They’re usually fairly large, black, and have quite a sizeable lens on the front.

These are the best way to get really high-quality shots, but they’re a lot harder to use than phone cameras. Rather than a point and shoot approach, with a DSLR you often have to get the lighting and focus correct yourself, and there’s a lot of post-production editing that goes into getting the perfect shot. This isn’t easy or quick, and it’s probably a little unnecessary for Instagram.

Having said that, if you want to use your Instagram pictures elsewhere, such as print them out and blow them up for your walls, it’s a great idea to take them on a DSLR. The quality will be incredibly sharp and clear, and you can use them for a wide variety of purposes.

Smartphone Camera

For anyone who isn’t well-versed in how to use a DSLR, stick with a smartphone. These make automatic picture taking easy, with the camera doing most of the hard work. While it does mean that you won’t have as much control over the lighting and quality, a lot of smartphones still have super-advanced cameras that can almost compare to a DSLR!

It also means that your images can be edited and uploaded straight from the device they’re taken on. It’s simple, saves a lot of time, and – let’s be honest -it’s good enough for Instagram. 

Use Natural Light Whenever You Can

When it comes to Instagram tips, there’s a lot to say about lighting. But the most important thing to remember is to always try and use natural light wherever you can. Avoid flash wherever possible, as it can wash out a photo and make it look flat and unflattering.

But too much natural light can have a similar effect. The best time to take photos is either in the early morning or sunset, where the soft glow of natural light will be the easiest to shoot with. If you want to take a shot during the day, but the light is too harsh, try to find a shaded spot or add some sheer curtains to filter the sun coming inside. 

You can also adjust the light on a smartphone by tapping different areas on the screen. This will encourage it to focus on the area you’ve tapped, and you should see the lighting change a lot as you tap around. 

Invest in Studio Lights

If you can’t always use natural light and want to take photos indoors, invest in studio lighting. It may be a little pricey, but it’s well worth it for the professional shots you’ll get!

For photos that need a large amount of space, like images of you modeling your clothes, use standing studio lights. If you only have small items to photograph, like home-cooked dishes, then a lightbox could be a great option. This is a perfect solution for flat-lays, making it easy to get gorgeous photos.

Add Other Elements to Your Photos

An image is about more than the main subject – it’s about everything in the shot. There should be other elements to a photo to make it interesting and engaging, adding that professional look you want to get the likes (or you can buy real Instagram likes and skip all of this!).

A great example of what this means is images of freshly cooked meals or food, such as those used on the Instagrams of chefs or of restaurants. They could just photograph the dish, alone, on a table. But even with great lighting and food that makes your mouth water, that just isn’t going to garner enough interest. 

So, the photographers use props around the food. Perhaps they sprinkle the surrounding table with some of the ingredients in the dish, like cherry tomatoes and bright green basil leaves. There could be a dusting of flour artfully scattered on the table, a folded tea towel placed almost out of shot, and a gorgeous set of cutlery tied with a ribbon.

It definitely takes time to do this, but the final shot will have much more to draw people in. For inspiration, look at #flatlaystyle on Instagram tags and you should get plenty of great examples.

Have You Tried Continous Bursts?

If you want to become famous on Instagram or are just looking for some social media tips to bring in a few more likes, this is a great piece of advice to take note of. If you’re trying to photograph something that’s dynamic (moving), try using the continuous burst function on your phone. This can be a certain setting you have to select, or your phone may take a continuous burst if you simply hold down the button to take a photo. 

But what is a continuous burst

This is a setting that lets you take multiple shots very quickly. So rather than shooting and getting just one image, you’ll get maybe fifty in just five seconds. This lets you capture the action really quickly and get the best shot possible, rather than taking only one and realizing once the action has passed that it’s blurry (what a nightmare!). 

For example, if you’re taking a picture of someone pouring tea from a pot into a mug, this is a great feature to use. Set up your props, adjust the lighting, and make sure your camera is positioned properly. Then, as the person pours, take a continuous burst.

You can then browse through the many images you will have got to find that one perfect shot. 

Start Following the Rule of Thirds

The rule of thirds is a secret used by professional photographers to help balance their images. It works by splitting your image up into a grid. There are three evenly placed vertical lines and three horizontal lines, splitting the image up into a nine-part grid. 

Some cameras may already have these lines on the screen, or you can access them through settings, which is very useful! 

Once you have your lines set up, you want to ensure any points of focus are placed on the areas where the lines intersect. This should leave you with a perfectly centered image that draws the eye to all the right places. 

You can take advantage of white space around your objects to really pull the attention of your viewer, and focus. By having your main object in focus and the others out of focus, there’s no confusion as to where the eye should be drawn.

Mix Up Your Angles

Becoming Instagram famous isn’t just about creating interesting images, but also about creating an interesting grid. When people click on your profile, your whole library of photos should look great together and have plenty of variety, encouraging your viewers to click that all-important follow button! One way to do this is by playing with your angles.

Images that are all taken from the same angle are going to look a little dull when viewed together. But switching it up can look playful, professional and create a more engaging grid. 

For example, if your profile is mainly full of pictures of you wearing different outfits, don’t have them all shot from front-on. Take some shots from below, pointed upwards at you with a raised shoe towards the camera, or turn the camera to the side to get a profile shot of your look. Take close-ups, wide-shots, and anything else you can think of to add some variety to your pictures!

If you’re taking pictures of objects or scenes, don’t always shoot from eye level. Move the camera around, up and down, to get more unusual shots.

Get a Bit of Depth With Layers

If you’re taking a picture of a subject, it can be tempting to focus entirely on that subject, whether that’s a person, a slice of pizza, or a beautiful flower. But that’s an easy shot and one that people have seen a million times, and there isn’t much to it.

A great way to add a bit of interest to the shot and instantly make it look more professional is by adding depth with layers. This means including the landscape or objects in the background and foreground, too. For example, if you’re taking a picture of your meal at a restaurant, go low and try and get some of the beautiful background in, too, even if it’s slightly out of focus. 

Don’t Forget Some Post-Production Editing

When you see gorgeous, beautifully colored, high-quality images, don’t believe that that’s all because of how the photograph was taken. Of course, a lot of the beauty will be in the composition, but there’ll be a lot of editing too. Don’t be fooled!

After you’ve got the perfect shot, put it through an editing app and play around with it. Change the saturation, contrast, exposure and see how you can bring out new colors and change the lighting. As soon as you start adjusting the settings, you’ll see just how easily a picture can be transformed in post-production.

Get Inspired and Stay Creative

Instagram has always been about sharing creativity, and users still respond to that. If you can be fresh, new, and innovative with your shots, people will want to follow you and keep up with the photos you’re putting out there. It’s not just about focusing on angles and layering, but getting shots that do something a little different.

Stay inspired by life when taking photos. If you see something beautiful, work out how you can turn it into a stunning photo or incorporate it into one of your shots. Play around with the world around you and never stop trying new things – the best way to get one great shot is through a hundred bad ones!

Keep Learning How to Take Good Instagram Photos

Social media platforms can be hard to crack, especially if you want to become famous on them and build up a large following. But, once you do, they’re an amazing place to share creativity and even earn an income, if you’re lucky! These tips for how to take good Instagram photos should be a great starting point on your journey, but make sure you keep learning; it takes more than one article to become a pro.

If you enjoyed this guide, be sure to check out more on our website! We write across a range of topics, including business, finances, and plenty of other guy stuff.


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