We’ve most certainly come a long way from the early days of camera phones. No longer do we have to put up with those grainy, blurred low resolution photos. These days camera phones are pretty sophisticated and, even better, they are always just an arm’s reach away!
That said, if everybody now has ready access to these amazing cameras how can we make our photos stand out?
In this post we are going to look at how to take the perfect Instagram picture
1: Use Natural Light Over Flash
Perhaps the most important thing for any good photo is the lighting! Natural light is always richer and brighter looking than the flash on your camera. If for whatever reason you can’t shoot outside try and snap your photos near a window or in a well lit room. If you are taking a photo outside at night try and find ambient light sources like street lamps or store windows.
Contrary to popular belief, grey and cloudy days actually make great photography days as the light tends to spread out more allowing you to do more in post-production. Other than this, sunsets and sunrises are also excellent times to take photos, they don’t call it the golden hour for nothing!
The key thing to remember is that a photo that is too bright is salvageable, whereas nothing can save a badly lit photo. Remember not to rush your shot, take some time and try tapping on different focus areas and see how this affects the overall lighting of your photo.
2: Take Your Time & get the Right Composition
Ensuring that the subject of your photo is the main focus is the name of the game here. A good way of doing this is by turning on the grid view on your phone and making sure that the subject is in the center when you take the snap. The grid view uses something known by photographers as the ‘rule of thirds.’ This essentially means breaking down a picture into 3 portions or sections and putting the most interesting aspects of the photo between the lines.
Before you take your snap you will also need to decide whether to use ‘portrait’ mode or ‘landscape’ mode. If your subject is only 4-6 feet away from you then it is usually best to use portrait mode, for anything further you would normally want to use a landscape mode.
You may also want to consider how the photo is going to look on your Instagram feed once you have taken the photo, especially if you are adhering your Instagram to a particular theme. You will want to stick to a consistent palette. For example, if you have a fashion brand, you will most likely want to use a neutral palette, whereas a ‘warm’ palette would probably work best for travel blogs. You can use apps like Later to preview how your Instagram feed will look after you have taken your photo. Remember that having a nice looking grid is essential in persuading people to follow you.
3: Set up Your Shot
Before taking the shot it is important to consider the direction of your shot. For example, if you are snapping food you will most likely want to consider a ‘Flay Lay’ set up meaning you will want to shoot directly above with plenty of natural light.
You may also want to think about what textures you want your background to be, eg whites, light concrete or pastel.) The background is rarely the focus of a photo, however sometimes using a colourful background can really take you photos to the next level.
Props can also go a long way in helping you to snap your perfect photo. Even something simple like a coffee cup can make a huge amount of difference.
If you are going to be in your own photos you will want to have a think about what you are wearing. Dressing appropriately will make a huge difference. Make sure what you are wearing compliments and works well with the location and environment you are shooting in. Dressing in bright colours will also highlight you as the subject of the photo.
Don’t be afraid to mix it up and experiment. Before capturing your photo, try shooting from various different angles and see what works and what doesn’t.
4: For Action Photos use ‘Continuous Burst’
If there is a lot of activity in your shot you will want to use continuous bust. With so many things going on at once you are bound to catch somebody mid sneeze or blink if you just take one or two shots. With continuous burst you will have a high number of photos to choose from so you can ensure that you have the best shot possible. Using continuous burst also takes the pressure off you as a photographer as you are not required to capture a perfect shot every time.5:
5: Choose a key Point of Interest for Your Photo
Great photos have a clear point of interest, photos that don’t have one just seem to be cluttered and chaotic. The brain likes to be told what to focus on. Your point of interest can be anything, it can be bigger or smaller or more colourful or not, it just needs to stand out. They can be in the foreground or background, something to draw the viewer’s eye. Your photo can have one point of interest or several, just make sure that your shot isn’t too cluttered.
6: Learn how to Properly Edit Your Photos
Whilst it would be great if we could always capture a perfect shot in the moment, this is not always the case.
Whether it’s a small lighting adjustment or removing some blemishes, most photos can normally benefit greatly from a post editing app.
That said, be careful not to over do it! Editing can be very time consuming and sometimes it’s simply not worth it to sink so much time into something that is not going to make much of a difference to your followers. In addition if a photo appears ‘over edited’ this will make you seem fake or inauthentic.
Another thing you will want to think about is how you crop your photo. For Instagram you should use a vertical crop instead of a landscape crop as this will allow mobile users to see your photos easier.
There are a variety of different Instagram photo editing apps available. Have a play around with them and experiment until your photo is just right. You’ll be an editing pro in no time!
7: Be on the Constant Look out for ‘Eye-Spy’ Moments
Thanks to the wonders of modern technology we now have a camera with us 24/7. Whenever you stumble upon a magical moment you can whip out your phone and take a quick snap.
If you are lacking inspiration you may want to consider doing some research into the best photography hotspots in your city. That said, there is also definitely something to be said for photographing unique places that are not as popular.
So if you’re struggling to take that perfect snap, have a go at some of these suggestions!