Over the years Instagram has become one of my favourite social networks. I love nothing more than snapping away with my iPhone and then uploading the photos online for the world to see.
Recently lots of you have been saying that you love the new look and feel of my Instagram feed, so I thought I’d share some of my top tips for taking awesome Instagram pics and tell you how I’ve been editing them too. I hope you find it useful.
01. USE THE REGULAR CAMERA APP ON YOUR PHONE
One thing I always, always do when I’m taking Instagram pics is use the square feature on the regular camera on my phone instead of the one on the Instagram app. Using this not only gives me a better quality of photo overall, but also means I can take several different shots and then choose my favourite to upload.
02. KEEP YOUR PHONE STEADY (ESPECIALLY IN LOW LIGHT)
I’m the first to admit that I don’t have the steadiest of hands, and this often results in blurry photos that I just wouldn’t share on Instagram. As most of my feed is made up of product shots I get round this by resting my elbows on the table, or using a tripod to keep my phone steady. It’s amazing how much of difference doing this tends to make!
03. CHOOSE YOUR BACKGROUND CAREFULLY
I think one of the most important things to consider when sharing photos on a platform like Instagram is the background. For example, if you’re taking a picture of that gorgeous cake you just made you don’t want to spoil it by having a load of dirty dishes in the background!!
As I mentioned before, I take a lot of product shots, which means the majority of my Instagram photos are flat lay. This means I need a nice looking surface to photograph them on.
At the moment I’m working on improving my Instagram aesthetic, and have chosen to have a feed full of beautiful pink, orange and gold colours. So I’ve been using some pink PVC I picked up on eBay for my main background. But I also think things like wooden table tops, bed linen and fluffy rugs make brilliant backgrounds too.
04. TAKE YOUR PHOTOS IN A WELL-LIT AREA
Taking your photos in a well-lit area is just as important as getting your background right! I love looking at nice, bright photographs, and find myself scrolling straight past anything dark without really looking at it. It’s always best to take your pictures in natural light (so outside or in front of a window) but this can be pretty impossible to do during the winter here in the UK. I mean, it barely gets light now! To fix this I use some studio lights that Nathan bought me a couple of Christmases ago. They light up the area I use to take my Instagram pics perfectly, and they don’t take up much room for storage either. I don’t know what I’d do without them!
05. AVOID USING FLASH
Using flash photography can lead to one area of your picture being overexposed. I would always recommend working with the light you’ve got rather than using the flash feature.
06. AVOID USING ZOOM
OK, so we’ve already established that the iPhone camera is great, but it’s not the macro lens that professional photographers use. Using the zoom feature will only reduce the quality of the final photograph. Instead of trying to zoom in with your phone, try moving in closer instead. You’ll notice a huge difference!
07. TAP THE SCREEN WHERE YOU WANT IT TO FOCUS
Did you know that if you hold down on one area of your screen it locks the focus? Playing around with this when taking photos can lead to some really interesting pics!
08. TRY NOT TO OVER-EDIT YOUR INSTAGRAM PHOTOS
And finally, try not to over-edit your Instagram photos. If you do, your pictures could end up looking like they were low quality to begin with. Even if they weren’t.
I use the VSCO Cam app to edit my photos, and it doesn’t take me long at all. Here’s my editing process …
1. Open the photo you want to edit in VSCO Cam and add a filter
From what I’ve heard most people like to add their filters last. But I actually prefer to add mine first. This is because it keeps all of my photos looking nice and consistent. And it very often results in me having to do less editing than I would if I put it on first.
For the last year or so I’ve been using the HB1 filter for all of my photos. To get this I had to download the HB (Hypebeast) collection from the filter shop, but all of the add-on filters are actually free at the moment. So make sure you go and grab them while you have the chance!
2. Adjust the filter and exposure
Next I turn the filter level down to around a 7 to make it less harsh. Although I will leave it higher if a photo is particularly dark or yellow-toned. But usually I go for a 7.
I then lift the exposure as much as I think it needs, which is usually somewhere between 1 and 3 stops. You can see that I bumped the exposure by 2 on the photo I used in my example.
3. Adjust the contrast and sharpen the picture
I usually bump up the contrast by 2 or 3 stops, and then lift the sharpness by 7. I find if I go any more than this it starts to make my photos look a little too heavily edited, so I always stick at a 7!
4. Adjust the colour
For me, the most important part of the editing process is to get the colour correction right. So this is probably the part I play around with the most.
Firstly, I take the warmth (or temperature) down a few stops, usually by 2 or 3 bumps. But again, this all depends on how warm the original shot is. At this point you’ll notice that the picture looks a bit washed out and very blue toned. So I bring the saturation up to a 4 or 5, which makes it all bright and colourful again. You’ll notice it still has a slight cool tint to it, but I personally think this looks fab!
And that is pretty much all I do! Sometimes I’ll try to straighten my photo a little more before I upload it to Instagram, but this is a rarity if I’m honest. Especially if I use the square camera feature on my iPhone in the first place.
Below are a few more examples of before and after shots of pics I’ve uploaded to my Instagram since I discovered the HB1 filter on VSCO Cam:
And there you have it – my entire editing process. It literally takes me 2 minutes from start to finish! It really is amazing what a filter and a bit of fiddling around with some colour settings can do to a seriously mediocre shot.
I hope these tips helped you if you were looking for a little advice on how to improve your Instagram photography. It’s taken me years to finally produce a feed I’m happy with, but I’m over the moon with it now. Especially with all the lovely feedback I’ve been getting from you guys. You rock!
Do you have any other tips to share for taking awesome Instagram photos?
Be sure to let us know in the comments below!