By Dave & Deb Bouskill, on December 1, 2015

7 tips for great Instagram photos

Instagram is the hottest photo sharing site on the Internet right now.

It’s easy to get lost in the shuffle of the site, so to stand out, you need to post photographs that pop in people’s news feeds. Are you living it up on an autumn cruise through Europe that you’d like to share with the world? Are you in the midst of a dream vacation to Hawaii that you want your friends to see? If people don’t notice your photographs, they may not see the gorgeous view from your hotel room or the magnificent sunset you witnessed over the ocean.

Fear not, my photography friends: We are here to help you take the best Instagram photos possible on your upcoming autumn travels. If you follow a few simple tricks, you’ll be an Instagram superstar in no time.

 1. Don’t take pictures within the app

When taking photos for Instagram, be sure to take the photograph using your native smartphone app. Once you’ve saved your picture to your phone’s image library, you can edit and manipulate the shot to create a more interesting photo than the photo you would be able to create if you took the original within the Instagram app.

2. Use great apps

Snapseed helps to bring out the colors

Speaking of apps, Instagram photography thrives on apps. Unlike regular photography, Instagram browsers enjoy seeing photos that are tweaked and saturated just a little bit more than your usual photo. We like to play around with apps such as Snapseed and PS Express. PS Express is perfect for playing with highlights and shadows, while Snapseed gives you a lot of control to edit select sections of each image. 

3. Use Instagram’s filters

Instagram has an array of built-in filters to help give photos a little extra oomph. The people behind the service like it when photographers use their filters, so don’t be afraid to play around with them. What we love about Instagram filters is how you can dial down the strength of each filter to what you like. Once you add the filter to your photo, double click on the filter and play with the slider to achieve the effect you are looking for. 

4. Think square

When taking photographs for Instagram, it’s important to think of your composition in the square or vertical format. Instagram has recently changed its formatting to allow horizontal images, but the landscape pictures don’t receive as much engagement (that means, eyeballs) as images that are vertical and square. Before you shoot the images, think about what you would like to look at when viewing images on a phone. You want each image to fill the screen. 

Viewfinder Tip: Hold your phone horizontally when taking photos for easier cropping to square. 

5. Time of Day

When taking photographs, plan your “wow” shots for sunrise and sunset. Blue hour and golden hour are those magic times when the sky is magnificent. A half-hour before and after both sunrise and sunset can create incredible lighting conditions that will turn a mediocre photograph into a stunner. If you spy a cityscape, street scene, or landscape photograph you really want to capture, make sure to visit that location at the right time of day. 

6. Composition

Speaking of composition, it’s important to keep the rules of photography in mind when taking a shot for Instagram. This means you always should think of the rule of thirds. Divide the scene into thirds vertically and horizontally; the spots where those lines intersect is where you should place the main subject(s) of the photo. Look for leading lines such as roads to draw the viewer into the subject. Also, as Dave likes to say, “Rules are meant to be broken.” Play around with interesting angles and unique points of view. 

 7. Color palette

Think about your feed’s color palette

Think about the color palette of your photography feed. When people discover a new user, they like to look at his or her portfolio. Make your Instagram feed look like a professional photography portfolio by thinking about layout and colors. Never take too many photos in a row featuring one color palette; we never like to put more than two similar tones together at a time. If we see that we’ve taken several photos that have a green hue we will mix things up a bit to a red or blue palette. Think about what looks pleasing and interesting to your eye. 

When it comes to taking great photographs for Instagram, it’s important to have fun. Play around with color, saturation, and framing. This is your time to try something new and to be creative. People love seeing something different in their feeds, so go for it! More important, be consistent; the more regular you are with posting photographs, the more people will find you and look forward to what you share next. Happy snapping! 

What are your best photography tips for Instagram?