We asked you what you would like to know when it comes to taking your own personal photography and the vast majority were unanimous! The sheer volume of people asking for advice on how to boost the look of their Instagram, particularly their selfies was overwhelming. Instagram is officially the top place to share personal and business images and we all know that the more you stand out, the more success you have. Luckily, we are here to help! We have compiled a list of our top pro tips when it comes to taking photos for that all-important Instagram profile!
1: Use Natural Light
It may seem like an obvious point but it’s one that so many neglect, particularly when it comes to taking a selfie! First identify your light source. If outside, head for an open space that is out of the shadows and face where the majority of your light is coming from. Obviously don’t get blinded by the sun! No one wants to see too much squinting! For optimum results, you want to make sure you are fully lit and shadow free! If you are indoors, head for the nearest window and get nice and close. Natural light is incredibly flattering when utilised properly. Window light in particular can be great for the look of the skin and the eyes as it is somewhat diffused and never too harsh.
2: Shoot at the Right Time of Day
Keeping in mind that natural light is our best friend when shooting for Instagram, we can also benefit from identifying how the light varies at different points in the day. For example, ‘golden hour’ is a photography term used to describe the time just before or just after the sun rises or sets. It is when there is still plenty of natural light, but it has a soft golden hue that is quite possibly one of the most flattering forms of natural light. The downside being that the time this beautiful light is available to you is probably a little less than an hour and it continues to change! So you have a limited window to get those shots done, so work quickly!
3: Add Out of Focus Elements to Create Interest
A great feature of an editing app is the ability to blur items in your shots. In pro film and photography, we very often play around with depth of field to highlight or keep sharp the focal point of an image. This is usually whatever is in the foreground, but it can on occasion be in the background. You can give the illusion of this effect by blurring different elements of your photo to pull the focus to whatever you have left. This effect works brilliantly with outdoor images, where leaves and skylines are effectively out of focus.
4: Using the Rule of Thirds
In professional film or photography, the rule of thirds relates to the composition of your image. If we imagine an image is divided into 9 equal segments with two horizontal and two vertical lines, with this rule any important elements of an image should run along these lines. This rule often applies to many paintings, design works and cinematography. Rather than just centering an image, the rule of thirds adds interest for a more dynamic composition.
5: Embrace Cloudy Weather
When talking about natural light, the first thing that will come into most people’s minds is a blazing sunny day but on the contrary, the best natural light, particularly when taking a selfie is on a cloudy day. We mentioned briefly about how window light is diffused and therefore softer and more flattering. This is even more the case when the skies are grey. Think of the clouds as Mother Nature’s filter!
6: Don’t Get Too Close
If there’s one thing we all know, it’s that angles are everything! A general rule is that what’s closer to the lens will appear larger which is probably why most people will take a selfie at a tilted angle, pretty much at arms length! The camera on a mobile phone, particularly the selfie camera does distort your features slightly and what’s in the foreground can sort of balloon in the shot, therefore if you’re too close you will appear to be all nose or just with a wider face than you actually have! Get that camera away from you for the best effect!
7: Use Continuous Bursts for Action Shots
Trying to get a shot of your toddler running but he turns his head at the very last second?! Damn! You need a burst shot! This is not just for unruly children, a burst shot can be used for dance, jumping and pretty much anything aerodynamic or action based that is humanly possible! What you’ll usually find is that after taking a burst there are one or two in there that are just right! Relying on our reflexes alone can very often miss that incredible moment, so the best trick when capturing a fast pace on camera is a burst and you’ll very often find that what’s captured is absolute brilliance.
8: Aligning with the Grid for More Harmonious Images
This rule ties in with the rule of thirds. When uploading a shot to Instagram, if you tap and hold your image, a grid will appear. Using the rule of thirds you can then align your image to the gridlines as mentioned earlier. If you do wish to keep your image centered this can also ensure that the focus of the image is actually in the centre!
9: Be Aware of Your Background
So, your lighting’s perfect, there’s a soft glow shimmering through your window, you have a beautiful composition and the perfect expression but oh… you forgot to move that pile of laundry out of the background. Yes, every element counts. Occasionally this is one use for the blur tool. If something is out of focus, it can disguise those things that don’t belong in your image, however, this does not always work. Before taking a shot make sure your background is clear of anything that will distract from your point of focus and be sure that it is generally tidy, this can be anything from straightening out a curtain to picking up leaves from a plant! Be aware of what is in the background of an image before you take the shot. Too many times a near perfect image is ruined by what is in the back of the frame.
10: Be Patient if You Want Exceptional Photos
Like anything worth doing, getting truly exceptional images takes a little time. If you think you’ll get it in one, you are very much mistaken! Getting that one killer shot takes a great deal of trial and error so you have to take a few shots at a few angles and then edit them down as you go. The more you have to choose from, the higher the overall standard will be as you learn what works with the particular shot you’re trying to create as you go. Once you feel you have got ‘the one’, to give it that professional edge, you might want to spend a little time on an edit.
Bonus Tips: Best Editing Apps
There are a wide variety of editing apps out there but for us, there are two in particular that have the most professional standard features. These are Snapseed and VSCO Combo. Snapseed is a favourite amongst professional photographers due to its ease of control and full spectrum of tools. It is considered the most similar app to photoshop. VSCO is not just an editor, it is a social media platform where many new photographers share their work. Snapseed has some good filters but VSCO has some incredible presets that can transform your images. Editing your images takes a little skill and good eye but like anything else, this improves with practice!
So there you have it. 10 sure fire ways to upgrade your Instagram straight from the pros. Start using just a couple of these techniques and watch your overall aesthetic transform with each new shot you post!