Step 1: Finding your subject
Step 2: Lighting & Angles
I would argue that finding adequate lighting and angles is the most important part of taking your Instagram photos. Unless you’re really intense and take photos with a real camera and then Instagram them, you are probably taking these with your smart phone. I am a lighting snob and I hate when photos are grainy or dark. I usually use windows and natural lighting to take the best pictures because it isn’t overpowering or artificial like fluorescent lighting. Many editing apps, and even the editor on the camera roll on iPhones and in Instagram, have brightening features, but that can only help so much and it can still make your photo look grainy. Angling your photos is another aspect to taking them. Finding an angle that won’t cast a shadow and that will give you the most out of what you are photographing is important. I like to take photos straight on if they are upright and if it is on the ground or laying down I like to take photos from a birds-eye view. Utilizing different angles can add interesting details to your photos.
Step 3: Trial & Error
Now that you have your subject and you have your lighting and angles worked out, start snapping pictures! Typically, and this is no exaggeration, I take around twenty photos before I sit down and choose one. I never get a good photo on the first try, and I like to have different options. Trying different things and taking multiples allows you to choose the best one and even the smallest changes can make the biggest difference in the quality of your photos.
Step 4: Editing
Now you have a camera roll filled with photos of your dinner, what do you do? It is time to edit your photos. This is my absolute favorite part about Instagramming. I am also an editing snob, I have a folder filled with my favorite editing apps – most of which cost money at some point, but that’s irrelevant. I like to bump up contrast and brightness usually and I like to try out different filters in different apps. There are infinite amounts of ways you could edit a photo. I usually go for brighter more rich colors, or softer, moodier colors. I usually use VSCO Cam, an app on my iPhone to edit my photos. Another app I like to use is Afterlight, which allows you to add additional filters with grain, light-leaks, and also Polaroid borders. One specific thing that I do to my Instagram photos is add a white border around my pictures. I take photos horizontally and make all of my photos the same proportions and then take the photos into Squaready and slap on a white border! It creates a nice aesthetic to my Instagram page and a nice consistency that my OCD brain enjoys.
Step 5: Finish it off…
Once you have your photos edited and ready to go, it is time to upload it onto Instagram. The hardest part about posting an Instagram photo for me is coming up with a witty and fitting caption. Once you have thought out your caption, you can tag your location (always fun) to show where you are or you can put something random in the location bar, something I do from time to time. You can also tag people or companies with Instagram accounts in your photos to shout them out. Finally, don’t forget to share your photo on all of your other social media accounts, make sure they know how much fun you are having!
Obviously these rules aren’t ride-or-die, even though Instagram seems like a competition, remember it’s just about connecting with people so, do you.