Pretty much every man and their dog wants to be insta-famous nowadays (seriously, some of those dog accounts are killing it!). Instagram is no longer about sharing a photo in the moment, it is about creating a gallery, a beautifully curated gallery, and while the key to a successful instagram account isn’t photography alone, perfecting your instagram photography will help.
You don’t need a fancy camera
I never thought I would say this, but, you really don’t need a fancy camera. I have always been a bit of a camera snob, priding myself on picking up the finer details and having the perfect depth of field, yet, one of my most popular instagram photos was taken on my iPhone 6s, and while it isn’t of a quality that I would ever consider blowing up and printing, it works for instagram. Most people view instagram in teeny tiny squares on their phone, meaning that the quality of the photo doesn’t matter too much. I’m not saying go out and take real shit quality photos and put little effort in, what I am saying is, you really don’t need a DSLR, and also, flower walls will always win instagram.
Take in your surroundings
There is nothing worse than looking at your fabulous picture after the event to discover an overflowing bin in the background. Survey the scene before taking your photo. Frame the photo perfectly within your camera. Move to your subject and set the perfect scene within your frame. I’ve been known to turn Aria around in the swing so that the pretty fields are behind her, rather than the ugly old Leisure Centre. These little details make all the difference when it comes to perfecting your instagram photography.
Focus, focus, focus
Focus is key. If using your phone tap on the main subject of the photo to focus on them. If using your camera move the focus point around, or, lock the focus point down and move your camera to where you want it. When photographing people try to focus on their eyes.
If you need to crop, do it within Instagram
I never, ever crop my instagram photos outside of instagram. I used to, but recently I have discovered that cropping works best within instagram itself. Cropping within instagram gives you a lot more control as you can better see how it will look within the app and at the required size. Leave the overflowing bin in the photo and zoom in to crop it out in instagram. Just remember when uploadloading elsewhere that it hasn’t been cropped. This may have caught me out on a few occasions.
Give your audience what they want
This is where a business account really pays off. The analytics are fab at providing a wealth of useful information, as well as easily sorting your most popular photos over a period of time.
By sorting my photos by top engaged over the past year it becomes evident that photos of myself and Aria always do well, other than one or two particularly nice photos of Aria, the photos of us together are dominating the top. This shows me that my audience like to see photos of me, the person behind the camera. As a result I now aim to include a photo of Aria and me at least once a week, more if I can.
Get down to your subjects level
I say down because my subject tends to be a toddler, basically kneel down, sit down, stand on tip toes or steps, just do what you can to be on the same level as your subject and the photo will look instantly better. There are some exceptions to the rule, such as when you hover over them and they melt you with their big blue eyes, but generally, if you are stood up and your toddler is stood up it isn’t going to work. Kneel down to meet their eye level and you will see a huge difference in your photography.
Be real, but not too real
People like to be able to relate, people like to know that your life isn’t perfect, but people also like visually appealing photos. If I were to post a photo of Aria in a dark and dingy house with toys and general mess everywhere it would flop, it’s not pretty or funny, therefore it isn’t visually appealing, it is just a kid stood in a shit tip. Save that stuff for instagram stories, where, in my opinion, mess is perfectly acceptable, in fact, it’s desired. People are naturally attracted to clean, bright photos, so if you want your photo to stand out in amongst feeds stick to this.
Lighting is key
Good lighting can make all the difference to your photo, especially when using a phone. The golden hours (shortly after sunrise and before sunset) are the ultimate times for your whimsy perfect captures, but they aren’t always possible, especially when littles are involved. Believe it or not the best days for photography are your grey and overcast days. Try to avoid shooting in direct sunlight, especially at midday when it is at it’s strongest. If shooting indoors open up your curtains and let as much natural light in as possible, avoid turning lights on if you can as they often create a yellow glow which doesn’t look good. If this can’t be avoided you can easily adjust the colour temperature to make it cooler on most editing software, including Photoshop and PicMonkey.
Don’t post for the sake of posting
If you aren’t 100% happy with your photo don’t post it just because you have nothing else to post. People say consistency is key and that you should post your photos at the same time every day and stick to a regular posting schedule. This is right, but it won’t work if you post any old sub par photo just because you need to stick to your schedule. If you don’t have a photo that you are 100% happy with, it is okay not to post. If you really are concerned about sticking to a tight schedule then make sure that you have a bank of photos, instagram lost its instant a long time ago so don’t worry about posting a photo taken a while ago, as long as it is seasonally appropriate no one will bat an eyelid.
Take a wide selection of photos
For every one instagram photo that I post there are around one hundred that didn’t make the cut! Taking photos of a toddler is hard, be prepared to keep snapping away until you find the perfect photo. Burst mode is your friend.
Filters aren’t necessary to create a theme
Once upon a time I believed that you had to have a theme for your instagram account, and I decided that my theme would be to edit all of my photos with a hazy pink filter. This looked lovely on some photos, but on others, rather than adding to the photo it took away from it. Nowadays the majority of my photos are bright and colourful, but occasionally if I feel a photo would be better suited with a hazy filter I will add one. I’ve come to realise that my theme is me, my personality, my captions, and also Aria and (hopefully) good photos. If you do want to use filters for your photos (because there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing so) consider using out of app filters. Some of my favourite filters come in the form of Photoshop actions, these are relatively cheap to purchase, can be applied to your photo in the click of a button and give you a lot more control than instagram filters.
Most importantly, don’t be afraid to experiment and have fun!