If it’s not on Instagram, did it even happen?
Whether you are the type to post every meal and every mood or whether you keep your feed to the highlights of your life, Instagram is all about pictures. It may sound superficial, but while on Twitter and Facebook you read posts (though even on Facebook posts get noticed more if there is a picture), Instagram posts needs to be sold by the photo, so you better make it good – and that does not mean overexposing and adding fifteen filters to your picture.
Remember the ratio
If you regularly take “normal” pictures, that is in 4×3 or 16×9, then you need to remember Instagram is a little different.
You can’t just crop a picture to be squared, you need to think of it while you snap it. Your phone, and a number of digital cameras, have a square option; use it.
In order to take a good picture, you need to see what your followers will see. And you will soon notice some shots look completely different taken in square, landscape or portrait.
We could have an entire post just on composition (more on the number of posts later), but we will keep to the basics.
First of all, think about what you want your picture to be about. Is a person in focus or is it the background?
Then think about where to position your subject (or where to position yourself, if the subject is nature, which is unlikely to reposition itself for you). Use the rule of thirds (add the grid option to your phone or camera which splits your screen to create nine squares). The basic rule to remember is to position a person so that their eyes are on the upper horizontal line (leaving the upper third of the picture for their forehead and hair) and that any focal point should be where the horizontal and vertical lines cross. As simple as that. Those are the points where eyes focus to first, so you want your subject placed at the centre of their attention.
The other thing to consider is direction. Where is your subject looking? If they are looking left, position them to the right of your picture. Your followers want to follow their gaze and feel involved in the moment you captured!
Perspective is what can make a boring picture interesting. You often see people crouching down or – very commonly now – do a gymnastic-like workout to appear as though they are on top of or carrying famous buildings. You know what we are talking about, you see them everywhere.
While this has been overdone now for the past few years, there is some truth behind what they are doing: Pespective changes the way we see everyday things or subjects we have seen before. So do think about where you take your picture from and sometimes simply holding the camera down to your chest can help, or making an effort to avoid a bin which would be in the shot, lying in the grass to show your followers the actual view from your napping spot.
If everyone is taking a building from the front, try a side angle, making it a little more interesting to look at or choose a feature or detail instead of the entire building. If you are keen, you can search the hashtag of your subject and see what has been done recently. You will see many pictures – especially travel pictures or sightseeing – will look the same and it will motivate you to find a new angle; quite literally.
Of course, your camera should be focused, but that’s not what we are talking about. If you are serious about your Instagram feed, think about what you want it to say. Is it your every day? Is it travel? Is it people focused? Who do you want to be following you?
Knowing all this will help you decide which picture is best for your feed. If you are inspiring solo travellers, it is worth posting selfies because it is a realistic picture your followers could take without asking strangers to photograph them all the time. If it’s all about fashion and style, think about the colours in your picture and make sure they match when someone scrolls through your profile.
There are two types of people, those who edit, and those who do it well.
We have gotten used to overexposed skies which look like a nuclear explosion is about to happen as much as we are used to seeing friends brunch but somehow made to look like a picture of the 1950s, when their phones wouldn’t have existed, their clothes would have been very different and the moment would have been unlikely to be worthy of a photograph, which was only to commemorate important milestones.
The best way to stand out now, is to keep your pictures natural. You can play around with contrast a little, make it black and white if it makes your subject stand out,add a little (!) colour when editing, or cropping into a picture you took if the subject is more interesting, but that should be enough to make your picture worth looking at. The content and colours will do the rest.
Now get snapping and send us your best Instagram pictures!