How to Take Good Instagram Photos: A Step by Step Guide

By October 8, 2019 No Comments

Trying to take beautiful Instagram photos can be a challenge sometimes. You can have a beautiful view in front of you, but how do you convert that into a gorgeous photo? And how do you find new things that will get you followers?

Knowing how to take good Instagram photos is a matter of practicing the right technique and developing a good eye. Read on to learn some tips for snapping photos that will grab your followers’ attention.

Use Natural Light

The best tool you have in your belt as a photographer is natural light. Artificial light tends to make things look cheap, overexposed, yellow, and washed out. The sun is our best light source, so be sure to use it in your photos.

If you’re taking an indoor photo, open the windows and move so your subject is facing the light. If you’re outside, find somewhere where there isn’t too much glare but your subject is still well-illuminated. Even if it’s a cloudy day, the softer, gray-toned sunlight coming through can make for great images.

Pick the Right Time

If you’re trying to find the perfect natural light for your photographs, you’re going to want to start shooting at golden hour. This is the time of day when the sun is low on the horizon but hasn’t started setting yet. It bathes everything in a softer, golden light, especially in the fall, and it will make your photos look incredible.

If you’re planning an outdoor shoot, try to do it at the golden hour or when there are some clouds in the sky. Midday photoshoots are hard because the sun is so bright and direct. It tends to make for overexposed photos.

Don't Overexpose

Have you ever seen a photo where all the light colors are so bright you can’t make out any detail and things look glarey? Think of any photo taken on a disposable camera in the ‘90s in a dark room with the flash on. That’s overexposure, and you want to avoid it at all costs.

Once a photo is overexposed, there’s almost nothing you can do to fix it. The best approach is to adjust the exposure level on your camera before you take the picture. And be careful when you’re editing that, in trying to get the brightness levels up, you don’t blow out the photo.

Work in Thirds

The rule of thirds is a great simple way to add visual interest and movement to your photographs. The theory is that you divide your camera up into a three-by-three grid. Then you try to place the focal point of your photograph along one of the intersections of that grid.

Centered shots can be wonderful for symmetry, but photos shot using the rule of thirds will provide visual interest. It keeps the viewer’s eye just slightly off-balance, which keeps them looking at the photo. On many phone cameras, you can turn on a grid to use for just this purpose.

Find a New Perspective

One of the things great photographers do best is find perspectives no one has seen before with their photographs. Maybe it’s a new angle on a skyscraper or a shadow caught from an angle that makes it seem intricate and otherworldly. If you can find these perspectives no one else does, you’ll have winning photographs.

When you get ready to take a picture of something, stop first and take another look at the subject. Is there another perspective you could shoot from that would provide more visual interest? Don’t get so caught up in this that your image becomes unrecognizable, but try to find a new or more interesting angle.

Look at the Lines

A great way to try to find new perspectives for your photographs is to pay attention to the lines in your shot. You may have “leading lines” that can help draw your viewer’s eye to the focal point of your piece. You want to use these to create the visual experience you’re looking for and find an interesting perspective.

For instance, let’s say you’re photographing someone in a crosswalk. See if you can take the photo at an angle so the lines of the crosswalk converge at one point, and then put your subject on that point. This will make them a more visually powerful focal point and will add an element of movement to your photograph.

Go Deep

Have you ever seen a photograph that you felt like you could almost step into? Visually deep photosare wonderful to look at, and the more depth you can add to your photos, the better. One great way to do this is to mix foreground, middleground, and background elements.

Instead of framing a shot of a flower against grass, try changing your angle so you’re looking at it from the side. You’ll see the flower in the foreground, the surrounding grass in the middleground, and the rest of the park and the sky in the background. Your photo will have more depth and help your viewers engage more with it.

Leave Space

One of the most underutilized tools in photography is white space. White space describes the open space around whatever the focus of your photo is. This could be literal – for example, a white tablecloth behind a flower arrangement – or figurative – such as a cloudless sky over a public park.

White space makes your photos seem less cluttered and gives the viewer visual space to breathe. Look for ways to frame your photo that leave some space around your subject. If you’re setting up a scene, try to provide a blank or minimalistic background to shoot against.

Find Exciting Subjects

It may seem obvious, but one of the best ways you can add spice to your photographs is to find exciting subjects. When you’re on Instagram, it can be easy to get into a rut of photographing the same sorts of subjects as everyone else. This means that no matter how beautifully you photograph the subject, it won’t be very interesting to your viewers.

Along with fresh perspectives on your subjects, try to find subjects no one has photographed before. Start practicing looking for unusual or visually interesting things while you’re walking around. This could be a tiny gnome village someone has set up in the corner of a building, a tree that has an interesting knot in it, or just light falling through a glass and forming an interesting pattern on a coffee bar.

Use Symmetry

It’s a scientific fact that humans like symmetry. The faces we think are beautiful tend to be more symmetrical, and we use symmetry in everything from our architecture to our art. So if you want to create a photo that will make your viewers feel relaxed and pleasant, it’s a good idea to put some symmetry in the photograph.

The symmetry you use doesn’t have to be built into what you photograph. You could center a pair of clouds that are similarly shaped or put a pair of bicycles on either side of your shot. Practice looking for symmetry around you and grab shots when you can.

Find Patterns

Patterns are another one of those pleasing things to look at, and there are subtle patterns hidden all around us. Finding them and using them in photographs is a great way to grab viewers’ attention.

Look for interesting patterns around you and try to hone in on those. Beautiful tile floors, shadows from a lattice, or chopped vegetables spread out on a board can all make for interesting shots. Once again, try to capture these patterns in an unexpected way.

Leave Room to Crop

One of the biggest mistakes Instagram photographers tend to make is trying to frame their photos as they would have them in the final shot. This means if anything odd or unwanted sneaks into the frame of the photo, you have no choice but to crop the photo smaller than you want. Instead, you should leave yourself plenty of room to crop the final photo.

Leaving yourself room to crop your photos can also help you find new perspectives you didn’t expect. Maybe you had planned to center the pair of shoes in that photo, but there’s an unexpected shadow that mirrors them perfectly. If you shoot only what you want in the final product, you’ll never have the opportunity to discover those unexpected shots.

Learn How to Take Good Instagram Photos

Knowing how to take good Instagram photos is a mixture of art and science. The most important thing you can do is change how you look at the world. When you’re walking around, train yourself to see the unexpected details. With practice, you’ll learn how to frame them to produce stunning photos.

If you’d like to get the right tools to make your photographs look their best, check out the rest of our site at Art of Visuals. We have preset Lightroom systems that will help you take your photographs from good to breathtaking. Visit our shop today and discover the beauty waiting at your fingertips.

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