You’ve likely seen them plenty of times — those blurry and unflattering photos on Instagram that left you scratching your head and wondering, “What was she thinking?”
From selfies where you can barely make out who the person is, to fuzzy shots of fast-moving dogs and food that looks less-than-appetizing, there’s no shortage of photos on the ‘Gram that probably should be deleted instead of posted.
Fortunately, taking quality photos that are both interesting and look terrific isn’t all that difficult. All you need is a little practice and the following tips:
1. Know Your Light
It’s no secret that light is one of the biggest factors when it comes to taking great photos. But, just like Goldilocks, you want to get things just right. That’s because if you have too much light, the subject or object in the photo will look washed out. Similarly, if you don’t have enough, then the image will come back looking dark.
In general, if you’re taking a photo outside, the early-morning light and sunset will offer a soft and forgiving glow. Conversely, when taking pics inside your home, know that certain windows will be better than others for letting in light and that fluorescent lights can cast shadows. Whenever possible, take your time when shooting photos and play with the settings on your smartphone a bit by trying the slider and other features to capture the best-looking picture.
2. Whenever Possible, Wear Something Flattering
Sure, there will be times when you post your “I just worked out on my Peloton” pics on IG in which you look hot and sweaty but also proud of your achievement — and that’s totally fine. But there’s also nothing wrong with taking a bit of time to dress up, make sure your hair and makeup are spot on, and share a photo you truly like. If those workouts on your bike have caused you to lose a bit of weight and/or look more toned, treat yourself to some new clothes that show off the new you. For instance, a little black dress in a tube or halter style will look great on you and on camera!
3. Play with Depth of Field
Another effective way to up your Instagram photography game is to understand depth of field and how it works. For instance, let’s say you’re trying to take a photo of your beloved golden retriever who’s staring longingly at a lake and deciding whether she wants to jump in. If you want your pup to be in focus but the water to be blurry, tap on the screen where your dog appears and a yellow square should appear, which will show what’s in focus. From there, you can maneuver your smartphone a bit to get the down of field you prefer. Of course, this can take a bit of practice, but the effect is always visually interesting and will help you to take better pictures for the Gram.
4. Mix Up the Angles
Instead of hastily taking a shot of the gorgeous rose bush in your backyard or a quick selfie of you and your bestie, play with the angles a bit. In many cases, you’ll find that the basic “straight on” picture isn’t all that interesting. Instead, experiment with different angles to see which ones you like best. For instance, you could shoot the rose bush from below so that the sky and clouds are visible behind the pink blossoms. Or, for your selfie, you could hold the camera above you or off to one side.
With Pictures, Practice Makes Progress
You don’t have to sign up for a photography class or invest in an expensive camera to take compelling photos for Instagram. Instead, by using the photos on your smartphone as usual and then experimenting with light, angles and depth of field, as well as what you wear, you should soon be taking terrific photos that get lots of “likes” and positive comments.