Think about who you follow on Instagram. You’ve probably got some cousins and high school friends who you follow to keep in touch with who post too many blurry pictures of their cat, but you keep following them because you care about them, right? But let’s say you’ve been following @chevy and suddenly, they start posting dark, out of focus pictures. Do you keep following them? Probably not.

With the exception of the accounts we follow just for the relationship, we follow for the content. And when it comes to Instagram – the content is primarily visual. Captions come second. So, the quality of the images you use matters. We’re going to focus on a few, simple techniques that will help you improve the quality of the pictures you’re taking for Instagram.

Lighting:

Where you take your picture can make a huge difference. The less light you have when taking the photo, the more pixelated and blurry your picture will be. When you’re setting up a picture, notice where the light is coming from. If you’re near a window – can you open up the curtains to let more light in? If there are no windows – can you move to a room where there are? Natural light offers better coloring than incandescent or florescent bulbs.

When you’re outside, indirect sunlight is your best friend. An overcast day is a perfect day for a photoshoot. If there are no clouds to work with, find a shaded area from a building or a full tree (scattered leaves can create splotchy shadow patterns in your photo) and take your pictures there.

If better lighting isn’t an option, opt for using a tripod. This helps to reduce camera shake and allows for a longer exposure.

Angles:

Does the term “flat lay” come to mind? This from above angle is a very popular one for Instagram. It’s a great way to showcase items and add visual interest with props. The from above angle is also a great way to photograph food and showcase the entire plate.

But not all pictures have to be taken from this angle. Here are a few things to keep in mind when determining which angle to take your photo from:

  • What is the primary focus of the image? Can you take the picture from an angle that highlights this focus?
  • Are there multiple items to focus on in your image? A flatlay might work best!
  • Are you photographing a person/people? Any time you can take the photo from a slightly above angle, the results are more flattering for the subject of the photo. (I.e. if you can stand on a step and have them stay on the ground below.)
  • Sometimes, getting on the same level as your photo subject helps add interest to the photo. Smartphones make it easy to photograph an item on a table at the same level.
  • Pro tip: Take multiple shots of your subject from a variety of intriguing angles and decide which angle tells your story best when looking through all the images after.

Editing:

My photography teacher once taught me that it’s best to take your photos as if they won’t be edited. This is important because it helps you to focus on getting exceptional images from the start instead of getting sloppy and thinking you can “clean things up” later in Photoshop.

That being said, there are many benefits to editing your pictures to add the final touch. Sometimes, the camera just can’t quite capture the colors in the way you want them to be seen. And bright, clean, well-lit photos are very eye-catching and in style right now, so adjusting your lighting can really help clean up an image.

My favorite phone and desktop editing app is Adobe Lightroom. It’s really simple to use on mobile and you can save presets to help your edits to your images stay consistent. I also like VSCO and Snapseed.

These are just a few simple tips to get you started. Using these guidelines and taking lots of pictures for practice can really help you improve your Instagram photo game whether you’re managing your own account or taking pictures to send to your account manager.

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