Have you wanted to create a beautiful Instagram feed that lifts other’s souls and makes them doubletap it for the hearts? But your photos don’t look quite right. You don’t understand how some of the best grammers have such clean and light shots that look perfect and the colours just seem to pop.
Do you secretly hope that a photo you share makes someone smile and their day a little brighter?
I understand how frustrating it can be when you take a photo on your phone because that’s the only way you know how to get it on Instagram, and if only you could just share that image you edited beautifully in Photoshop on your laptop, but you don’t know how to edit the shot on your phone. It’s too dark and you just wanted to crop out that edge that snuck in and it needs rotating just a smidge.
Well – I was there too! And I found a way. This is by no means a definitive guide and I am not an expert photographer but I am trying to improve my photos all the time. These are my tips for those just starting out being more intentional with an Instagram feed.
I’m sure you will find your favourite apps and ways of editing and filters that will be, and should be, unique to you.
I’ve only been taking it more seriously in the last few months, but have learnt a few tips and tricks to taking and making some pretty pictures. I’ve only covered photos but you can now post videos too. This post contains affiliate links for which I may get a small fee if you purchase something but at no cost to you. I make a point of only using free apps and filters for Instagram so it is totally possible to create beautiful photos without paying for the privilege, assuming you have a smart phone.
Take Creative Photos
I take most of the photos in my feed on my iPhone. It is an iPhone 5s. I use the camera and don’t take photos directly in Instagram. I use the square setting but you no longer need to as you can post landscape now too. I take a few photos of the same thing so I have a few to choose from. I then edit the photos in some different apps before posting to Instagram. I sometimes use photos I’ve taken on my DSLR, see the section below headed Latergramme for how I post those to Instagram.
Basic photography tips
Always shoot in good natural light, by a window or outside. Never use the flash. Think about the composition, what in the image is creating the frame, symmetry is always pleasing to the eye. Think about the ‘grid’ of the image or divide it into thirds. I often create ‘flat lays’ which are where you take a photo from above, of a still life that you have created on a flat surface. These are really fun to create. Flowers are always good to take photos of but I also create flat lays with items that I get creative with. One idea is to play with colour, by taking photos of things in one colour which will give an overall hue to your month’s feed. I am inspired by the seasons so I try to reflect that in my photos through the colour of items and with the theme too.
Make Creative Photos
To start my editing process I open the photo chosen in the Snapseed app, which is a free google app for editing photos. I may crop the photo if I want to get rid of anything in the frame. Then I always lighten the photos by adjusting the brightness, I might adjust the contrast, ambiance and warmth in the tune image settings.
I may use the transform setting if I want to straighten out the image at all. I have used it for photos of doors or windows, if they are slightly at an angle, it helps to get them looking straight on. This was the initial reason I started to use this app, it’s a great trick if your initial photo is not perfectly straight!
I often use the rotate as I always forget when holding the phone which way up the photo takes, especially if I am taking a flat lay!
There are other functions with the selective, vignette, brush, details and healing tools but I don’t tend to use them. It’s worth having a play around to see what you can do.
After all this editing, you might want to add a filter to your image. I save the image and then may open it in my new favourite app, ColorStory. I don’t tend to use the filters in Snapseed or Instagram but lately I discovered the ColorStory filters and I like them. ColorStory has the same editing functions as Snapseed but I’ve not started using them yet. ColorStory has a range of free filters and ones you can buy and they do make the colours in your photos pop. If you are going for a bright feed on your Instagram (as opposed to muted, moody or dark) they are worth checking out. I’m having fun using them at the moment, they make the colours pop in the photos and are adjustable. There are free filters and ones you can buy too. The app was developed by the bloggers at A Beautiful Mess.
If you want to schedule photos after editing a bunch so that you don’t post them all at once, you can use an app called Latergramme which allows you to schedule up to 30 images a month for free. You just add your photo, caption and hashtags and a time you want to post it to Instagram. It won’t post automatically for you but will notify you at your pre-selected time. You then select the image in Latergramme to open it in Instagram, your caption will be copied to your clipboard so you can paste it into the caption on Instagram and off you go.
Latergramme also works on the desktop/laptop which is great if you have photos on your computer and you want to upload them to Instagram. As you may know Instagram was developed as a phone photo sharing app but I have photos that I take for blog posts on my DSLR that I want to share on Instagram and have already edited in Photoshop. Latergramme is perfect for this.
Sometimes you may want to create a montage of your photos to post, I will often do a round up of my favourite photos of the month or my most favourited photos that month. Layout is the app I use for this. You can add photos from your phone, choose how they are laid out, add borders, flip them or mirror them and then save and post to Instagram or Facebook or another destination.
I hope that you have found some of these ideas and tips useful and they will help you when getting creative with your photography.
There are a host of courses out there too, if you are using Instagram as a tool for your business it’s worth investing in them. Check out Emily Quinton at Makelight. If you are a writer then The Nester and Brian from Hopewriters have just launched Instavaluable too.
And finally, my favourite Instagram users to follow
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