So your coffee cup is starting to cool and your foam is starting to disappear as you grab your phone. Your cute styled coffee image photo now looks nothing like what you envisioned, and it certainly doesn’t look like all the people you stalk on the gram…
So you start scrolling through your camera roll, only to find that you’ve used all of your available photos on Instagram already. Boooooo…..
Maybe you’re trying to create a more curated Instagram feed, but all of your photos feel mismatched.
Or maybe you’ve used some beautiful styled stock photos and want to mix in some of your own photos without ruining your Instagram aesthetic.
No matter what your dilemma is, taking photos for Instagram is no easy feat.
It seems like it should be as easy as whipping out your phone and snapping a shot, but it never is.
While you may not become a full-blown photographer overnight, you don’t need to be in order to start growing your Instagram following and increasing your Instagram engagement.
I’m sharing tips I’ve learned firsthand on how to shoot photos for Instagram with only an iPhone, which is an art in itself.
I’ve got some tricks that will have your followers thinking you’re a total pro in no time. Pretty soon they’ll be calling you the photographer!
Go toward the light
Through photography, you’re measuring light and how it bounces off subjects. The more you have of it, the better the image will be. This does not mean direct sunlight, however, because direct sunlight creates direct shadows.
Natural light is the best light you can find. Not only that but it can be found outside for $0.
Now, does that mean you can’t take photos inside? Of course not!
Whether you’re shooting in an indoor studio or simply on your kitchen counter, there are a few quick tips to help you find the best light.
Position your subject or props in relation to the light
Have you ever tried to take a photo just to have it ruined by dark shadows? I know I have!
If you’re taking portraits, it’s best to have the sun behind your subject. If your subject is facing the sun, they’ll not only be squinting but also will have harsh shadows across their face. Not ideal at all. You can always adjust the brightness of the photo later, too.
To eliminate the high contrast shadows in styled photos, you may want to reposition your props. If you’re taking a flat lay desk photo, you can move the props until you find a spot where shadows are limited. Some lighting can be fixed with online photo editors like A Color Story or Adobe Photoshop, but it’s easier (and less work) if you can reposition as you go.
Shoot on an overcast day
While it may seem counterintuitive to shoot photographs on a cloudy day, it’s actually the best time for a photoshoot. You don’t have to deal with the high contrast shadows from blinding light like you do on bright summer days.
Some overcast days turn into rain so be prepared with an umbrella in hand. I always have one packed in my car just in case. If you can find a cloudy day with a 0% chance of precipitation, you’ve hit the jackpot!
Sunrise and sunset times are optimal
Depending on where you are located, the best times to shoot your photographs will change. It’s best to shoot in the early morning hours or right before sunset.
This is called a photographer’s “golden hour”, meaning it gives you the very best light. If you can schedule your photoshoot around this time, you’ll already have better light in no time.
Use the rule of thirds
For interesting, well-balanced photographs, the rule of thirds principle is a no brainer. You may have heard of this term before but if you’re wondering what the heck it means, don’t worry. I’ve got your back, girl.
Think of the rule of thirds as a 9 square grid. The rule is applied when you align the main subject of a photo with each line and focus on their intersection points. You can see a few examples below:
If you’ve ever wondered why photographers capture images of people or props positioned to the side, now you know why.
It’s much more visually interesting than taking a photo of someone or something straight down the middle. It also leaves room for text, logos, or other graphics that may enhance your photograph.
If you’re shooting images using your iPhone, using the rule of thirds is extremely simple. You only need to turn on the grid function.
Here’s a simple iPhone grid how-to:
Find ‘Settings’ (it looks like a gear icon on your phone)
Scroll down to the ‘Photos & Camera’ option
Keep scrolling to the ‘Camera’ tab
You should find a ‘Grid’ toggle button
Swipe the ‘Grid’ button to the right to turn it on (it will show up as green)
Close out of ‘Settings’ and open your ‘Camera’ app
Your 9-block photo grid should show up right on your camera!
Be mindful of the square crop
When you are shooting photos specifically for Instagram, you can’t ignore how important it is for them to fit into your grid. When you look at your Instagram feed, what’s the first thing you notice? If you answered that all the photos are squares, we’re sharing the same brain.
If you’re used to taking portrait or landscape style photos, you’ll want to change your approach a bit. We already mentioned how to turn on the grid function for your iPhone camera, but did you know you can also take square cropped photos automatically?
It’s as simple as opening up your ‘Camera’ app and swiping the bottom options to the right from ‘PHOTO’ to ‘SQUARE’. You’ll see the screen lens change from vertical to square if you’ve chosen the right setting. Easy and convenient!
If you still want to take portrait and landscape oriented photos, no problem! You can also crop your digital photos in virtually any photo editor. It also gives you the opportunity to create different crops for additional photos. I love doing that with styled stock photos, too!
Take multiple shots
You may be tempted to keep fiddling with your props until you find the ever elusive “perfect shot”, but you could be missing out on a great opportunity.
If you only click the shutter once and move on to your next scene, you only have one shot to choose from when you look back at your photo gallery. Instead, I recommend taking multiple shots of the same scenery or setting.
When you capture multiple photos of the same thing, you’ll be able to:
Choose the best shot: This is arguably the best reason to capture multiple photos of the same thing. If the light is a little off in one photo or someone’s arm got in the frame, it’s hard to correct it in Photoshop. However, if you have several photographs to choose from, you’re more likely to find an image you love.
Take photos from different angles: Whether you love straight-on or bird’s eye view photos, you can create interesting photos just by changing the perspective of the photo. I enjoy taking close up flat lay photos from above for styled stock photos, but much of my wedding imagery is taken from different angles. It’s always nice to have the freedom to change it up!
Create unexpected images: Some of the best images I’ve captured have been what I like to call my “happy accident” shots. Until I review my photo gallery on my computer, I can’t fully see how well an image turned out. That’s why I love snapping away while I’m in the moment so I can decide which images I love later that day. It’s almost like finding treasure!
That’s it! Now you have a grid automatically shown in your phone so you can experiment with your point-of-view. Have some fun with it!
Now it’s your turn to capture Instagram photos!
Using the tips I’ve shared above, you can start to beautify your Instagram feed with new photographs from your next DIY photoshoot. Share the photos you take on Instagram using the hashtag #getfoundhq so I can see what you create!