There are 500 million active users on Instagram every day. Wow! It just leaves you speechless! So, what’s the secret and why so many people use Instagram? Economists, psychologists, sociologists are trying to figure it out, and I’ll leave it to them to find scientific answers. As for ordinary people, I believe that they love it because it’s visual and simple. A photo is the best way to tell a story. You don’t have to bother to find the right words or anything. You just post your photo and everyone will see some beauty and story in it. Or not. But, that’s the idea.
Instagram is also a great way to connect with people who share similar views, passions, and interests. But, in order to draw attention, you need some great photos. No one will like grainy, blurry or just dull photos.
Truth be told, you’ll often hear people criticizing Instagram. They call it a factory of lies, a place where you feel inadequate unless you create your own world of lies to fit in. Some would go even further claiming that Instagram is made to make you feel miserable and inadequate. I am not a scientist so I won’t make a judgment about its effects on society.
But, I do know one thing, no social network is created behind the scenes by some dark force in order to fulfill some hidden agenda. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and others are here because we like them! It is as simple as that. Excessive use or misuse is a whole different story for a different occasion.
Why You Should Improve Your Instagram Photos
As you can see, some people believe that Instagram is a great place to share photos and beautiful moments, while others think that it is a devil’s playground. But, that’s the way we are. When the first railways opened at the beginning of the 19th century many people, including some scientists, feared that moving at speeds higher than 30 mp/h would cause our bodies to melt or fall apart! Radio, telephone, TV, computers were all met with fears that look ridiculous today.
At the end of the day it comes down to you: new technology opens up new possibilities and it’s up to you to take the best or worst out of it. It’s the same with Instagram. If you don’t take it as some kind of competition or a vanity fair you can enjoy sharing beautiful photos and connecting with people.
However, wanting to create a great photo is not enough. You need to have some skills, knowledge, and ideas. But, why should you bother instead of just taking photos? Instagram has such a vast community that it attracts almost everyone. Big businesses, small businesses, marketers, and millions of men and women, boys and girls, all have Instagram accounts. It is a great place to have fun, but it’s a great place to present your business as well. Either way, you want your photos to be noticed.
We like to have our opinions heard, and on Instagram photos are the way to convey our messages. A photograph is your basic tool on Instagram. Whatever you want to achieve, it won’t work if your tools are inadequate. So, before you develop strategy, consider ideas and things you want to show to the world, you need to improve your photography skills.
There are two basic ways to improve your photos. Editing is one way and improving your skills is another. While editing is sometimes necessary, it is not a good idea to rely solely on it. Some mistakes you can’t fix in Photoshop or at least not enough to get a great photo. So, it’s better to be able to take great shots and use editing to fix small mistakes or to enhance the image.
First of all, you should remember that there isn’t such a thing as Instagram photo. A great image will be great wherever you put it – on Instagram, Facebook, your living room’s wall or art gallery.
However, you don’t have to become a professional photographer. A couple of basic tips and a little bit of your imagination will allow you to create stunning images. Maybe not as often as professionals, but often enough to dazzle your followers on Instagram.
Forget About The Likes
Don’t get stuck in chasing ‘likes’. Seriously? Isn’t that the point? It is and it isn’t. Of course, you want your photos to be liked. But, trying to emulate successful photos and reasons for that, you can end up chasing your own tail, with mediocre results. Instead, try to find motives and styles where you excel and ‘likes’ will come naturally.
Create Your Style
On Instagram, it is important to create some kind of signature of your own. Each photo can tell a different story, but there should be something that connects them all. You can try to use a similar color palette and plan your Instagram feed ahead. Neatly arranged photos can make your feed stand out. Once you post your photos you can’t rearrange them, but you can use Preview App to plan your future posts and arrangements.
Use Natural Light
Use natural light whenever possible. Natural light provides more flattering effects. Colors are vibrant and lines are better defined. However, you need to be careful. You don’t want to point your camera directly at the sun, and if you shoot in the middle of the day, the light might be too harsh. So, choose the golden hour or cloudy day for your shooting.
“A room is not a room without natural light.” – Louis Kahn
In case you don’t know, the golden hour is the period of the day after sunrise and before sunset. Sun provides warm, soft, and diffused light and longer shadows for great contrast, defined lines, and vibrant colors.
Follow The Rules of Composition
Arrange the elements in your image to reach the desired effect. These elements include your subject or point of interest, shapes, lines, textures, and colors. Rule of thirds is a basic and golden rule to make your photos more eye-catching. Look for leading lines, strong colors, peculiar shapes and textures.
Consider the background that complements your point of interest. Use layers, leading lines and the background to guide your audience to your subject. If you have too many details in the background, blurring it may be a good idea.
Most smartphones and cameras of today have the grid feature. Turning it on will help you to put your subject in the best possible position in the frame. Experienced photographers have an eye for it, but the grid won’t hurt anyway.
Actually, it is a good idea to underexpose your photos occasionally. Correct exposure is very important, but a slightly underexposed image can be easily fixed. It doesn’t work the other way around. Overexposed and consequently bleached image can’t be fixed by darkening it. It will be grainy or fuzzy or both.
Try Different Angles
You can edit a lot of things in post-processing, but you can’t change your viewpoint and angles. Change of angles and perspectives can turn an ordinary scene into an amazing, thought-provoking image.
Seize The Moment
While you probably don’t carry your camera all the time, chances are that you’re inseparable from your smartphone. Sometimes, the opportunity comes out of nowhere and you better be prepared! Be it a sunbeam piercing through clouds or a cat on the window, be ready to capture great moments.
“The right man is the one who seizes the moment.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
Don’t Push It While Editing
Editing can help you a lot, but don’t overdo it. Too much editing can be noticed and it can be repulsive for some viewers. So, try to keep it simple. If you follow basic rules your photos will look great already. Editing can be the fine and final touch to make it perfect.
This list can go forever if we go in-depth to analyze each genre of photography. You can also add your imagination and ideas to the list. Night photos, underwater photos, close-ups, micro photography, capturing landscapes, capturing the movement… There are myriads of ideas and locations for great photos. But, I will not talk about them.
I hope I have pointed out how to approach Instagram photography, and how to improve your skills. It is up to you to decide what and where. Enjoy it!