I am by no means a photographer or a photo expert of any kind. I’ve learned what works simply through trial and error. I also think it’s important to note that there is nothing, I repeat, NOTHING wrong with wanting to get a cute photo for Instagram. If I had a dollar for every time someone rolled their eyes, gave me a side glance, or made a snide comment about my desire to take photos I think I’d be able to quit my day job. Here are a few rules of thumb that I stick to:
1. Angles and poses
Do not underestimate the importance of a good angle. It’s also crucial to have at least a few go-to poses in your back pocket to pull from on demand. I found my best angles and poses by searching through Pinterest for inspiration than taking practice shots. Maximize your options by also having the photo taken from different points of view. Andrew taking a picture of me always involves him moving around from left to right, up then down… hello cardio, make that boy werk!
2. Under-expose vs. over-expose
Light can always be added to a photo but it cannot be taken away (not by us amateurs anyway). If your photo turns out too dark, brighten it with an editing app such as Lightroom or Snap-seed. If it turns out to bright… you can kiss that photo goodbye because there is no saving it. In the photo to the left I wanted to utilize the window but that meant the lighting was way off, on the right is the edited and brightened version. You could go brighter if you wanted to but this was just my preference.
3. Location, location, location
In the world of Instagram, a brick wall is no longer just a brick wall. Don’t over think this one… just keep your eyes and mind open when it comes to location scouting. A good location can mean the difference between a memorable photo and a dull one. Below are some examples of simple, everyday locations that became great photo backdrops: a coffee shop, an old staircase, and the side of a building.
4. Props make a difference
I always feel like something is missing if I don’t have anything in my hands… I don’t know what to do with my phalanges when they aren’t holding something. Of course you can’t have props in every photo but a good prop can really bring the picture to life. Here are a few simple but effective options: a drink (cute reusable cup, coffee mug, a Starbucks), a popsicle or ice cream, flowers, a purse. Get creative with this and have fun!
5. Show your personality
Smiling is great when taking your grade school class picture… but school is not in session. I love when I look at a photo and I can get a sense of the person’s personality. Use the full expression of your face… be silly, be cheeky, truly show your emotion through the photo. These are the photos that make people stop their scroll and maybe even feel something.
6. Find an ‘Instagram husband’
An Instagram husband is any person who consistently takes photos of you for your Instagram page… it doesn’t need to be your actual significant other. The person just needs to be patient, have at least a small interest in photography and be willing to learn. The best way to teach someone how you want your photos taken is to show them. Have them stand in the shot where you plan on standing, then take a photo of them at the angles you like. Show them the photo as a reference and have them try to replicate it.
Note: if you have no one to take your photos than invest in a tripod… you won’t regret it!
7. Don’t shy away from motion
Mix up your pictures by adding in some movement… dance, jump, frolic, play. This adds interest and fun to your image. Use the burst option on your camera or iPhone – this takes 10 photos per second. In burst mode, you will capture the details of each movement rather than ending up with a few blurry shots.
On a real note… taking photos and utilizing Instagram is meant to be fun. Do not stress or obsess over the perfect light and angle… perfection is over-rated. Focus on taking photos that make you happy and you can’t go wrong. If you’ve made it this far in this post and you end up taking a photo utilizing one of these tips please either email it to me or tag me in it on Instagram!! I would LOVE to see them!